Even The Most Sterling Explanation Will Not Work

, , , , | Right | April 7, 2021

I’m an account manager at a small-town, independent bank.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] at [Bank]. How can I help you today?”

Customer: “I need to dispute some charges on my account.”

Me: “Okay, let’s take a look. Can I have your name or account number?”

We go through all the proper identification procedures with no issues, and I pull up a statement of her most recent transactions. The customer also has a note on her account that she is traveling in Britain right now.

Me: “Okay, I have your statement pulled up. Which transactions would you like to dispute?”

Customer: “The ATM withdrawals I made in London this week. I just looked at my bank statement online, and I think the ATM took out too much money.”

Me: “I see three ATM withdrawals for 250 dollars. Are those the charges you mean?”

Customer: “Yes. But I only took out 200 dollars from the ATM. Why did they take more money out of my account than I got from the ATM?”

Me: “Ma’am, I think I understand what happened. When you use the ATM in Britain, it automatically calculates the exchange rate between British pounds and US dollars. Right now, one British Pound is worth about 1.25 in US dollars, so the 200 British pounds you took out of the ATM are worth 250 US dollars.”

Customer: “That can’t be right, though. Why did the bank take 250 dollars out of my account when I only got 200 dollars out of the ATM?”

Me: “Ma’am, you didn’t get any US dollars out of the ATM. Britain uses the pound, not the dollar, so you got 200 British pounds. The reason your statement shows 250 dollars is because the pound is worth more than the dollar right now.”

Customer: “That doesn’t make any sense, because the dollars I get out of the ATM should be the same dollars that come out of my account. Is there someone who actually understands money that I can talk to?”

Me: “Let me transfer you to my supervisor.”

My supervisor tried to tell her the same thing I did, to no avail. We obviously did not reverse or refund any money from her ATM withdrawals, since she was the one who made the withdrawals. When she got back from her travels in Britain, the customer closed her account with us and switched to a national chain of banks because she was convinced we were stealing money from her every time she used her card at an ATM in Britain.

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