How to Get Back Your Money when ATM Machines Glitch ( in China )

How to Get Back Your Money when ATM Machines Glitch ( in China )

SCENARIO: In a busy bank in Xiamen, China. You need to place money, the bank is crowded and you don’t want to queue with the rest of the customers AND you can’t speak Mandarin – so you decided to place money by the ‘lonely English-speaking’ ATM machine within the bank.

PROBLEM: After depositing, for example, RMB (Chinese money) 2000.00 in increments, the ATM machine malfunctioned, ‘spits-out’ its receipt (sometimes it won’t!), and DID NOT add or register your transaction.

  • Where did your hard-earned monies go?
  • What should you do, how to get help and can we really do anything about it?


It’s normal to get paranoid at this time, thinking it was all a ‘hack’. Well, truly, it’s not a hack by one of the bank’s tellers administering the computer systems. Here are the steps to keep your sanity and relieve yourself of paranoia, in this scenario:

1.) Do not forget to get the actual transaction receipt from the ATM machine. If you did incremental deposits, there would be a receipt for each incremental transaction – if you did two separate deposits, then you’ll get two receipts, etc. Now you’re asking, what if I forgot or lost those transaction receipts OR what if the machine does not already do a receipt at all? There’s nothing much we can do with that hard-copy of the receipt right now, EXCEPT to stay put and find “human” help and….

2.) Try not to leave the bank or move far away from the ATM machine, in any way at this time – this step is very important! I’ll tell you why, later.

3.) Look for the closest bank security guard – most of them are stationed near the ATM machines.

4.) Summon the security guards (wave your hand while saying hello), let them come closer to you and the ATM machine, and let them know what happened – if you can’t speak any Chinese at all, do not hesitate to talk in English or your own language, but do hand-language in the conversations.
If the security guard does not understand what you’re talking about, he/she would probably get the supervisor for you. Well, if the supervisor is not obtainable and they can’t seem to get it….

5.) Move away from the ATM machine then go find a stationed bank manager or rep – most of them are seated or standing-by the bank lobby, wearing suits, and an ID, and most of them could speak ‘broken’ English that comes with a higher IQ than the security guard you just dealt with: )=

6.) Take the bank manager or rep to the ATM machine where the incident happened and tell your story from there.
Again, you’re asking “Why should I take them back and forth that useless ATM machine?” That is the catch! You need to get proof that the glitch really happened. This is your “digital receipt” if you don’t happen to have the hard-copy of the transaction receipts. Most ATM machines are observed closely by the hanging/hiding security video cameras and this is one of those last resorts where you could prove with the bank that you were the real person who deposited the money in that faulty ATM machine, when the glitch happened. People might find your action strange, so please be aware of that.

Keep the ‘movie shots technique’ to yourself for now, you will use this “tool” at the right time.

So what to do next?

7.) After you’ve taken the bank reps a round trip to the useless ATM for some ‘movie shots’,it’s high time to insist to ask the rep to check if their cams or video systems were able to capture the ATM incident. Give them your closest time calculate when the incident (glitch) happened.

8.) After the bank reps check their video systems and find you and them in their ‘in-house-movies’, they would probably shut down the faulty ATM machine and check your bank records in their system.

9.) After the checks are done, they would ask you to bring the original records you used to open your accounts. Your passport is one of the most important documents, to get things going smoothly with edges in China. Make sure that you bring the old passport with you if you happen to have a new one now and you used the old passport to open your bank accounts before.

10.) If you can’t get back closest to the bank or produce the original records the bank reps ask you, insist for hard or soft copies of written statements that the incident happened in this specific bank before you leave the bank and make a return. And don’t forget to get a name card of the bank rep who’s helping you out with this problem.

Everything should work out fine and you’ll get your monies additional to your deposits but then, I know you have one last question:
What if the bank’s video system was not able to ‘capture’ the incident, how else can I get proof that I did the ATM transaction? The best way to get around this is by letting the bank reps check their IT administrator for database systems. The transaction should have been a ‘Commit’ transaction recorded by the bank’s database software systems.

Hope this article benefits us all and gives us more confidence with our travel and life in China – keep your cool this Summer!

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