People don’t think there’s such a thing as “free money,” but as one ATM distributor in the UK found out, unfortunately, there is. When the ATM cash machine performed a faulty operation, the machine started giving out twice the amount of cash that customers were requesting.
The machine did this for a few hours before the police were summoned to come in and guard the machine from further theft (theft? really?) and to maintain secure premises and keep down any confusion. It seems that the crowd was starting to get a little boisterous and the shoving and pushing to get in the long line was getting out of control. After all, there was “free money” to be had, and everyone wanted a piece of it.
Just to be clear, this was definitely a fluke with the machine, and there is no ATM machine anywhere that purposefully gives out wads of money to its customers. Something faulty had gone wrong with the machine or someone forgot to change the default password to change the denomination settings, and customers were getting twice the amount of money that they were requesting. Word about the free cash quickly spread, and that’s when people started lining up to partake of what was, to some, their dreams coming true!
What’s a Business Owner To Do To Avoid Giving Away Free Money?
The owner of the cash machine of course had to work quickly to correct the mistake, but according to the bank, they could not and would not hold the customers liable for an error that their machine had made.
This leaves a lot of questions in the mind of any business owner, like:
- shouldn’t the customers return the money?
- how can the business owner recoup these “lost funds?”
- what exactly happened with the machine to cause this error?
- what can be done to ensure that it does NOT happen again?
There’s no way to be sure to tell what happened, how it could have been avoided and what can be done to avoid it in the future. But as an ATM cash machine owner, there are some things that a businessperson can and should do to lessen the chances of this happening with his cash machines.
1. Have the machines serviced regularly.
Don’t just plop down a cash machine in a spot and leave it there without periodic checks and maintenances. It’s important to do more than ensure the machine has adequate cash, but to also check to make sure that the software is up-to-date, that the hardware is working properly (slots, trays, etc.) and there are no visible signs of wear (rust, corrosion, etc.) that would hinder the machine in any way from working properly.
2. Check on the machines regularly.
Actually going to the machine site on a routine basis is important. Whether this is once weekly or three times a week, anything can happen so it’s imperative to stay ahead of any potential issues by keeping a close eye on things. This means more than just restocking it with cash and paper. Perform routine system checks in addition to visual checks, and make sure to physically handle the machine when you do.
3. Consult Professionals
If anything like what happened with the wayward cash machine were to ever happen to you as an ATM cash machine owner, you’d want to know what your recourses were (if any) and how you’d need to go about taking care of this issue. Consult your business attorney(s) to see if:
a. you have any recourse
b. you can ask for/insist that customers return the money
c. you should file an insurance claim to recover your losses
d. there really isn’t anything you can do, and you should just chalk it all up to unfortunate incidents.
3. Change Default Passwords and Admin Function Codes
When ATM Machines ship from the factory they are all shipped with the same administrative passwords and lock combinations. One of the first things that needs to be updated are the administrative and management passwords. If you are installing the ATM yourself, be sure to change these passwords. If you have your ATM professionally installed, be sure to ask your installer to walk you through the change process and don’t give anyone your passwords.
A legal professional as well as the ATM distributor may be able to assist you on what actions you can and should take, and what you should reasonably expect from such a situation. Although in the UK case, the owners had to suffer a loss, but that may vary from one company and one situation to another. It’s best to know for sure before giving up.