In the Ombudsman’s experience, customers who are confronted with an ATM malfunction during deposits or withdrawals are understandably very convinced of their account of events. If, after carrying out the appropriate investigations, a bank claims that no malfunction of the ATM could be detected, this is psychologically sensitive, as it implicitly implies that the customer’s perception of the events does not correspond to the facts. Many customers feel accused of unfair behaviour in such a case.
For these reasons, the Ombudsman recommends that if a customer persists in his or her account of the facts, the bank should explain to him or her precisely and in detail what clarifications it has made. In his opinion, this includes consulting the device log, in which the individual steps of the transaction initiated by the customer are recorded. Any malfunctions are usually recorded in this log. Furthermore, the bank should check in a timely manner whether the cash balance of the device corresponds to the accounting or whether there are differences. Finally, the records of the video surveillance should be checked, if such is available.
In the present case, it was not clear from the bank’s replies to the customer’s complaint what exactly had been checked by the bank. The two replies in the form of standardised letters were both sent with a delay of about two weeks and stated that no malfunction of the machine had been detected. A vending machine report was enclosed, which was not explained to the customer. In fact, no malfunction was recorded. In the second complaint, the customer was informed that the incident had been checked again. It was not clear what this check included in addition to the first one. The customer had to pay a contribution of CHF 30 each for the investigations.
When contacted, the Ombudsman asked the bank to explain exactly what it had done in response to the customer’s complaint. He specifically asked about any video recordings which, in his view, would probably provide additional evidence in the present case, since the volume of 50 centime coins in the credited value of CHF 29.50 would be much smaller than in the equivalent value of around CHF 400, as the customer claimed. In its reply to the Ombudsman’s questions, the bank explained that the investigation of such an incident was always carried out by a subsidiary company. In a first step, only the ATM log is checked. If a customer makes a complaint, the bank checks for any discrepancies in the machine’s cash balance. In the case in question, this was done in the context of the second complaint about two weeks after the incident. No differences were found. Video recordings had been available, but had been deleted in the meantime. In addition to the ATM log, the bank provided the Ombudsman with a journal of the maintenance work carried out by its subsidiary, which it did not comment on further. In the sense of a settlement, the bank offered the client compensation of CHF 200, i.e. half the value of the coins deposited, as well as reimbursement of the clarification costs of two times CHF 30.
When the Ombudsman prepared the submission of the bank’s settlement proposal to the customer, he found that the maintenance record stated that there had been a coin jam at the machine, which had had to be cleared by a service technician. In addition, several articles had appeared in the press reporting problems with ATMs with a deposit function at the bank in question. In view of the overall circumstances of the case, the Ombudsman recommended that the bank reimburse the customer the full amount claimed, as he considered that another solution was no longer justifiable in view of the various problems encountered during the complaint process. He attached particular importance to the fact that the video recordings had not been saved and had been deleted during the complaint process at the bank. The bank followed the Ombudsman’s recommendation and fully compensated the client.