CASH MACHINE WOES

June 24, 2005

On March 2 I went to the BancoInterfín ATM in Rohrmoser across fromCEMACO and tried to withdraw $200.The machine only dispensed $180; thelast $20 was stuck in the dispensing slotand I could not remove it. The machinethen took back the stuck $20 bill.I immediately went into the bank,stopped at a customer-service desk andtalked to an English-speaking bank representative.He told me I had to phonemy bank in the United States that issuedthe Visa card, and have them writeInterfín about the loss.I told him that my bank had no wayof knowing about the loss, and thatBanco Interfín, which managed theATM, should reimburse me. He refused.This is not a logical, reasonable methodof correcting ATM errors.After I raised a lot of hell, BancoInterfín deposited the $20 into my localbank account. My bank, which issued theVisa card in the United States, told me theprocedure requested by Banco Interfín isthe accepted procedure. Officials thereagreed to deposit $20 into my account butI told them this was no longer necessarysince Interfín had already reimbursed me.This procedure seems very strange.Imagine someone losing $200 to an ATMhere and having to correspond with thebank in his or her home country thatissued the card.–Howard FrenchGuanacasteA representative of Banco Interfínfamiliar with the case told The Tico Timesthat initially there was a misunderstanding(Howard French told The Tico Times hedoes not understand Spanish) and bankofficials thought French had problemswhen he used his credit card for a purchase.If someone is accidentally chargedtwice on his or her credit card for the samepurchase, the credit-card holder shouldtake the issue up with the issuing bank,according to the representative.The misunderstanding was cleared upafter officials understood that French’s probleminvolved a Banco Interfín cash machine.Under these circumstances, it is the responsibilityof the bank operating the machine toreview the situation and respond, accordingto the Interfín representative. The amount ofcash in the machine can be counted andcompared to the balance of transactions tolook for any inconsistencies. This eventuallyhappened in French’s case, and he waspaid $20.Bank representatives could not confirmwhether mechanisms exist to ensure a clientwho has a problem with his or her creditcard is not reimbursed twice by both banksinvolved.Costa Rica’s Superintendence ofFinancial Entities (SUGEF) recommendsthat people who have complaints withbanks here first attempt to resolve the matterdirectly with the banks. If a person feelsthat the bank is not adequately addressingthe situation, he or she should direct theircomplaint to SUGEF (243-4848).

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