New ATM glitch hits top bank
Hundreds queue for 'extra' cash after more BoI technical problems
Published 08/12/2010 | 05:00
Hundreds queued at Bank of Ireland (BoI) ATMs around the country last night after the machines started dispensing large amounts of cash which people did not have in their accounts.
BoI spokeswoman Mary Brennan confirmed people had been able to withdraw more money than they had in their accounts. She warned the customers would be "liable" for the extra cash they took out.
But Ms Brennan said the bank categorically denied that people received more money than they had requested from machines.
"When our systems go offline as they did, we can't see people's balances and they can't see their balance so we take a decision to make a certain amount of cash available to customers. So some customers were able to obtain money from the ATM that they did not have in their account," she said.
Ms Brennan continued, "We took a decision to allow some flexibility to our customers . . . it has been exploited by a minority of people." A system in place for when there is a technical failure means some people can get money as they have been pre-approved by the bank, even if there is no cash in their account, she said.
She said customers would be "liable" for the extra cash they had taken out but added that BoI hadn't decided how it would go about recovering its money.
Reports first spread on social-network site Twitter and soon banks had long queues outside ATMs in several locations.
A spokesperson had initially dismissed the reports.
In Limerick, for example, one man with just €20 in his account was able to withdraw €200.
Earlier, the bank was forced to apologise to its one million customers after a separate technical problem meant they were unable to withdraw cash on their ATM cards. The bank rushed to reassure customers the matter was only a technical one. There was no suggestion of any funding issues, it insisted.
Earlier a spokesman for the bank said its electronic payments systems were knocked out at 9.20am, with the bank struggling throughout the day to rectify the breakdown.
The fault meant ATMs were not working and customers were unable to make online transactions. The malfunction only affected BoI debit and ATM cardholders. People with cards issued by other banks were able to withdraw cash from the 1,000 BoI ATM machines countrywide. However, all transactions will be taken from their accounts.
Some customers reported being unable to withdraw any cash or use their Laser debit cards to make purchases. However, a bank spokeswoman said customers were able to withdraw some cash from ATMs, although the amount was restricted. BoI credit cards were working, the bank said.
It suggested that customers could use their credit cards to withdraw cash, but would not commit to waiving the high charges on credit-card withdrawals. In a statement, the bank confirmed that "an unforeseen technical issue" affected its in-branch and online banking systems.
"All branches are open and operating as normal but with a temporary restricted cash service. All ATMs are operating normally but with a restricted cash service for BoI cardholders," the bank said.
In October last year, BoI admitted it had double-charged its customers for the second month in a row after thousands were mistakenly overcharged on Laser card transactions.