No money, no panic, but only just

While we are using less cash we are increasingly dependent on cash machines as bank branches reduce their hours or have closed during the pandemic.

Only 6% of payments are made in cash nowadays but it is useful to have a few folding plastic notes to hand for tips or taxis.

Down to my last £20 I stopped at the machine outside my local supermarket. Card was accepted, so was the personal identification number. I opted for cash with receipt and the machine whirred, and whirred. A queue formed behind me – at a social distance – and the man at the front of it asked me if it had swallowed my card. At that point the card was spat out, but no money or receipt followed.

I asked the man to watch to see if money finally came out and to take it to the supermarket’s customer service desk.

The customer service desk was anything but. The cash machine was nothing to do with them. “No” they could not make a note that I had reported that my money had not been paid. I should go to my bank.

I knew it would be closed and was the other side of town so I went home without any cash to check my bank account. Had my account been emptied by a fraudster? Was there something suspicious about my request? No invoice or slip to tell me why?

The bank account showed that £200 had been withdrawn that morning but was later returned. No explanation as to why? Much relief, no thanks to the supermarket.

The following day I tried again at the same machine and this time it provided the money I needed. No need to panic, but no one to explain what had happened. The card worked without having to telephone the bank’s helpline, but will never be trusted again.

I was glad that I had online banking as calls to the bank take many minutes to be answered. I will also add a banking app to my mobile so that if it happens again I can check straightaway.

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