Machine snatched cash while I was distracted

A cash machine
A cash machine
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.

Q I put my debit card into a bank cashpoint to withdraw £20 and obtained a receipt to check my account balance. I was distracted during the transaction by my toddler throwing soft toys out of his buggy. I turned to take the receipt, but just as I reached for my money the machine snatched it back before I could take the two £10 notes out of the dispenser. A Halifax bank cashier confirmed I’d get my money back. That was three weeks ago, and I’ve heard nothing since. Can you help please?

KM (internet)

A I’m not sure many people know that dallying at a cash machine runs the very real risk that they’ll be involved in this type of snatch-back scenario.

Hole-in-the-wall machines are programmed to take banknotes back into protective custody if they’re not removed promptly from the dispenser drawer. This is to prevent your money being offered to and taken by the next user of the machine.

You do need to take care when withdrawing cash from cashpoints. Always take the cash first, and then the receipt. Hang around and its likely you’ll get stuck with long delays while the bank checks whether your account has been automatically debited.

After I contacted the Halifax for you, they apologised for the excessive delay in getting back to you. The bank confirms your account was not debited with the original £20, but as a gesture of goodwill they have credited it with a further £20.

Don’t take this as a licence to double your money. Now you know what and why it happened it’s most unlikely that they’ll be as generous if you manage to do the same thing again.

Q When I ordered a suite recently the store asked me for a £250 deposit, and told me delivery would take about six weeks. While waiting for the suite to be delivered I was made redundant, and cancelled the order. The store point blank refuses to refund the deposit, claiming they are entitled in law to keep it. This doesn’t sound quite right to me. Please advise as to my rights.

DH (internet)

A Well, like it or not, you made a contract with the store for the suite at the full purchase price of £2,200.

By cancelling it, you are in breach of contract. Your reason for the cancellation may be sound, but that won’t count in law. The store is perfectly within its rights to demand reasonable compensation.

If I had to take a guess, I think £250 is a reasonably modest price to pay for the cancellation given the full purchase price of the suite. The store could demand their full loss of profit, and unless their mark up on furniture is particularly low, they can still hold out for any additional money they may have lost on the transaction.

This is one of those occasions where a period of silence could be the most prudent option for you to consider. Remind them and like Oliver Twist, they may hold out their corporate hands for more.