Thomas Washington of Oakland needed money to buy medication to treat his diabetes. He went to the ATM at his neighborhood convenience store in Oakland.
"I stuck my ATM card in this machine here and to withdrawal some money, then nothing came out," said Washington.
Shortly after that, he received a text from his debit card servicer, NetSpend, that $82.25 had been deducted from his pre-paid debit card, but he had no cash to show for it.
"I was furious because that was my last money and it was for my medicine," said Washington.
He called the 800 number on the ATM that belonged to MetaBank. The folks at MetaBank told him to call the debit card company, NetSpend. He called on Aug. 31st.
"They tell me it takes 10 working days. I waited 10 working days and they still didn't give me my money," said Washington.
He called NetSpend again and was told him he would have to wait until Oct. 30th to get an answer.
"I said 'Why do I have to wait that long for my money?' They said, 'That's the deadline day.' Anyway, I got in touch with Channel 7 On My Side," said Washington.
We contacted NetSpend and they told us they followed the law as outlined by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the FDIC. Regulation E gives them 10 working days to resolve any disputes, but that clock doesn't start until the complaint is submitted in writing. He said he didn't know that and MetaBank says that's what caused the delay. They decided to give Thomas a provisional credit while it investigated further.
"I felt much better to get my money back," said Washington.
Coincidentally, the debit card he used was issued by MetaBank, the same bank that operated the ATM that shorted Washington.
7 On Your Side talked to MetaBank's president, Brad Hanson, by phone and he told us that no one would ever lose any money at an ATM. The systems are in place to track any money that goes in or out of an ATM.
Hanson said, "Ultimately, the bank stands behind the transaction all the way and the consumer is never out money."
An investigation by the bank confirmed Washington's story. The provisional credit was lifted and he ultimately got his money.
"Yes, Mike, I appreciate Channel 7 on My Side," said Washington.
Hobson says he doesn't know what caused the ATM to short Washington. We should also point out that not all debit cards are backed up by a bank and if that's the case, your transactions would not be protected by regulation.
Consumers Union is currently lobbying the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to extend those protections to apply to all debit cards.