Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tragedy averted

More reminders pour in with every passing day to reinforce my conviction that PC Financial > Canada's Big Banks.

After switching to PC Financial from Royal for my everyday chequing account a few months ago, I was pleased to discover there's a CIBC bank machine in the lobby of my office. Since CIBC essentially runs PC's banking division, this ATM has essentially become the place where I do 90% of my banking.

On my way out of work on Friday, I hit up the ATM for some cash (the boys and I enjoy a few non-alcoholic beers from time to time....) I asked for $60 from the machine, thinking that would be enough to fuel my weekend. This seems like a good time to note that whenever presented with the option, I decline the option of getting a receipt from the ATM, as I don't use them to track my finances, they end up in the garbage a few hours later, so as such, they just seem like a waste of paper.

So after asking for $60 and declining a receipt of the transaction, the hamster in the wheel inside the machine starts making some very abnormal sounds. A few seconds pass, before the machine spits out my card and says "Your transaction has been processed -- don't forget to take your cash." One problem: it didn't spit out any cash.

I'm wracking my brain trying to decide how to proceed here. Essentially, this bank machine has just taken $60 out of my chequing account, not given me the cash, but debited my account for that amount. Since I don't know PC Financial's phone number offhand (and really, this seems like and error on CIBC's part anyway) I call the CIBC phone number printed on the ATM. After 10 minutes on hold, a very unhelpful man informs me, essentially, that I'm short out of luck. He confirms that the transaction went through and he sees no evidence that cash wasn't actually presented, so my beef is with PC Financial, not CIBC, I'm told. It seems I would be best served by calling them. Thanks for nothing.

At this point, I'm a good 20 minutes late and in a bit of a sour mood, so I decide to head to the bar opera house to meet my friends and resolve to put my tab on VISA and deal with this in the morning.

Next day, I log on bright and early to see that the good folks at PC have already taken the bull by the horns and reversed the transaction -- reinserting $60 into my account. I didn't even have to call them to get this entire fiasco fixed without my involvement. Good on them for that.

Now, technically, I have no idea how one of the conventional banks would respond to a situation like this. But based on my brief dealings with CIBC (and the 20 years before that sidestepping Royal Bank's nickeling and diming) I suspect it would have been nowhere near as painless.

What can I say? Make the switch. You'll be glad you did.


squawkfox said...

Was the machine broken? Did you find a software glitch? Did someone tell you what the heck happened? Cause dang, I would have freaked out. I can't imaging standing there with my card, a receipt, and NO MOOLAH. AHHHH. But, I am so happy the tragedy was averted. :) I switched to PC Financial 1.5 years ago and have never looked back. I love not having to keep a balance, not dealing with fees, and not feeling like a banking pion. My only regret is not switching to PC Financial sooner!

porpoise said...

The funny thing is that all the backend work for PC Financial is handled by CIBC, so it was most likely handled either by a CIBC employee or the bank machine itself. And the PC financial reps you deal with on the phone are CIBC employees and are often sitting in the same call centre as the CIBC ones.

Four Pillars said...

Good story.

I had the exact same thing happen to me a number of years ago except that I was withdrawing $1000 (to pay my electrician) and the machine gave me a whopping $20.

I freaked - I called CIBC and they basically told me not to worry that they would sort it out - which they did. The transaction ended up being for $20.

nancy (aka money coach) said...

I have some inside scoop on this (I work part time at Citizens Bank): every day or so (sounds like you timed it right) the company that empties the ATM machines (and guess what, it's not a bank that take the deposits, something I didn't know before I got behind the scenes the bank) will then balance what the credits/debits to the machine were and see if that balances the actual cash inside. Usually it's quickly apparent if there's a discrepency and in your case, your account was re-credited. The hassle factor would be much greater if you had used a non-CIBC machine - that can take weeks to sort out - but rarely would having a receipt or not make a particular difference.
I'm glad it worked out smoothly for you.
(and of course ATM machines, just like cars, 'puters etc are subject to glitches)

centsprout said...

glad everything worked out hassle free for you. one thing, the PCF toll free number is printed on the back of the bank card. at least on mine it is.

sharebear99 said...

A few years ago I left my card in the machine while counting the money that was dispensed. I guess I waited to long because after a few beeps the machine ate my card.

The bank was open so the manager was able to get my card back for me.

My understanding is that there are cameras in the machine and they should be able to see if you got any money out or not.