KINGS MOUNTAIN, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) — FOX 46 is getting results for a Kings Mountain man after an ATM withdrawal left him empty handed days before his bills are due. 

“I need this money now,” said Chris Thompson, 60, nearly a week after withdrawing $400 from an ATM at the Westgate Plaza in Kings Mountain but getting no cash in return. 

Thompson, who lives with his mother and is on disability, says he has no money left to pay his water bill. 

“You can’t take a shower,” he said, worried his water will be disconnected. “As hot as it is you’d be stinking. I don’t want to be stinking.”

While rare, ATM malfunctions do occur. In those cases, experts say you should immediately contact your bank. Thompson said after the ATM kept his money on July 3 he contacted police, the number on the CashPoints ATM (which is owned by State Employees’ Credit Union) and his bank.

Thompson has a Direct Express card, issued through Comerica, which allows the government to direct deposit his $827 a month disability payments.

“It acted like it was giving me my money but this right here never did open up for me to get my money,” said Thompson, pointing to the ATM’s cash dispenser. “But then it shot me out a receipt saying I withdrew $400.”

The ATM’s owner tells FOX 46 there was indeed a malfunction with the machine. 

“There was a service call for the ATM following that transaction,” said Sandra Jones, a spokesperson for SECU. “Maintenance was performed to bring the machine back into service.”

Records show Thompson filed a claim with Comerica last Thursday and attached a receipt. Days later, he says he was told they haven’t processed his paperwork yet. He worries the investigation could take weeks or month. 

“It shouldn’t have to take that long to put it back on my card because it wasn’t nothing I did,” said Thompson. “This machine right here jut did not give me my money.”

FOX 46 called Comerica and we are getting results. Shortly after calling, the bank immediately refunded Thompson his money.

“I got results within two hours of talking to Mr. Matt this morning,” said Thompson. “So I’m just letting you know….call FOX 46 because they will get results…They got results for me.”

Comerica Statement

The Direct Express program investigates every instance in which a cardholder reports that there has been an issue with the use of his/her card. We are looking into the specifics of this case. The preliminary information we have is that we have talked with the cardholder and he is satisfied with the results of that conversation. In terms of general information, is is not common, but it does happen from time to time than an ATM will malfunction. When that occurs, the owner of the ATM (in this case, NC Employee Credit Union) will balance out the ATM and will determine that there has been an error. There is a process in which the card issuer (Direct Express) will file a claim with the ATM owner. Because the process of balancing the ATM will often resolve the issue, there is a 5 business day waiting period before the issuer sends the claim through to the ATM owner. Often, the issue resolves itself before 5 business days.

The length of time varies depending on the circumstance. In many cases, the issue resolves itself once the ATM owner balances the machine. If the investigation will take more than 10 business days and we have proper notification from the cardholder, we will give the cardholder provisional credit. 

Issues with ATM’s don’t happen very often. CashPoints ATMs are used frequently by Direct Express cardholders in North Carolina. To provide context, there were over 400 Million transactions of all types on Direct Express cards in 2017. Issues were reported on less than one fifth of one percent of those transactions. If an issue with an ATM occurs, the cardholder calls the Call Center and files a claim with Direct Express. We investigate the error and resolve the issue.

Direct Express is a program of the U.S. Treasury, Bureau of the Fiscal Service. Comerica is the Financial Agent (Issuer of the card) for the program. Direct Express provides federal benefit recipients with a means to receive their payments electronically. The program has been in place for about 10 years and has consistently had a 94/95% cardholder satisfaction rating. In addition to a Mastercard debit card, Direct Express provides financial literacy education to cardholders. Through that program (provided by PayPerks), Direct Express cardholders have taken over 10 million learning modules on a variety of financial education topics. In addition to ATM transactions, the Direct Express card gives federal benefit recipients the ability to shop for groceries, pay utility bills, have access to cell phones and cable TV. The Direct Express card can be used at any of the millions of locations where Mastercard is accepted.” -Yolanda Walker, Vice President, Corporate & Executive Communications, Comerica Inc. 

SECU Statement

“I am glad to hear that Comerica has credited the funds for their customer. There was a service call generated for the ATM following that transaction and maintenance was performed to bring the machine back into service.” -Sandra Jones, spokesperson