Bank Machine Ltd machines increasing risk of mugging?

We have a local cash machine, it is as the local garage. It has changed hands a few times, and used to be a bank or building society machine. Now it is "Bank Machine Ltd".

There is, of course, a slight problem with that. According to Companies House, "Bank Machine Ltd" does not exist. But it is a former name of Cardtronics UK Ltd, so is legit, phew! Worrying that the machine still states a former name, and did not (that I could see) state a company number.

Anyway, to the heart of the problem.

The machine only allows a withdrawal of, at most, £250.

Shortly before it stopped being a proper bank operated machine, the operator (Nationwide, I think) had newer s/w that actually remembered your regular transactions. So, card, PIN, and one click to get cash of the amount I usually take out and no receipt. Really cool.

However, this machine limits you to £250. I have seen many like it now. It is bloody annoying and pointless.

It is also a really annoying sequence of button presses to extract cash with no receipt and not viewing balance first.

Now, I know different people have different amounts of money they have available and to some this will seem odd/petty. I tent to take out around £1000, and when low, I top up. But it can take a long time to use up that cash (many months in some cases). Mostly it is my kids borrowing money that depletes the cash, but I tend to use cash for a lot of things these days, and I am not sure why. I hardly ever use a card in fact. I think it is mainly because it makes the money much more tangible and easier to keep a grip on spending than just using a card. You see how much you are actually spending with cash.

The machine's limit to £250 makes no sense, and I was not alone in this annoyance the other day when I was behind someone else, equally annoyed at having to insert a card multiple times to take out cash.

I can't think of one good reason to limit it to any lower than the bank do. They do not stop you using the same card multiple times, or using multiple cards, so it is not a limit on actual cash withdrawal, it is just a means to slow and annoy people.

What it does do is :-
  1. Make it take longer to extract cash, annoying me and those behind in the queue.
  2. Make it more likely someone will overlook my PIN as entered multiple times.
  3. Make it more likely I will be mugged as magnitude of withdrawal becomes more obvious.
So I have to wonder why they do it. If I am ever mugged after taking out cash as multiple transactions, I will have to consider suing!

Is it just me?!

If you think this is silly - imagine if the machines were limiting you to £20 at a time, and how annoying that would be when you want £100...


  1. It's so they don't have to fill it as often - they expect people will just take max of £250 then not bother to try again.

  2. It's possibly that it makes the dispensing mechanism simpler if having this limit means the maximum number of notes it has to dispense is capped at a certain point?

  3. Like petrol pumps that will only do £99.99 - What?

    Or shops that only sell one box of paracetamol - FFS!

    1. Paracetamol restriction is a harm reduction decision. Suicides aren't usually planned or rational, so the existence of a rational means to bypass the restriction doesn't impact the effectiveness of the restriction very much. So some people who were going to suicide with paracetamol are prevented by the small pack sizes and limit on sales. Yes this works - even if you think it's stupid it still works.

    2. That makes some sense, but the cash machine limit is just dumb.

    3. The petrol pump thing is a technical limitation of the pump normally, either hardware (Display may only have space for 4 digits), or the station has not invested in updating the software that operates the dispensing system.

      Paracetamol on the other hand, is a legal limitation introduced in 1998.

  4. You have £1000 in cash hanging around for months at a time? I find that very strange. For a start, you could be earning interest on that in some accounts. Second, that's a fair amount of cash to lose if you are burgled at home or mugged on the way home from the cash machine. Third, cash machines only give out £20 notes or less so £1000 is going to be quite an ungainly wedge (I go to the bank to take out fifties if I want a few hundred quid in cash).

    Is it really such a pain to take out a couple of hundred quid every two or three weeks instead?

    1. To be fair I would normally only have £500 unless it is new notes who which take way less space, but the problem is the same an the restriction just as pointless.

  5. Any more than £250 and it probably won't fit out of the slot. These machines tend to be smaller than normal bank cash machines.

  6. My understanding is that the LINK interchange fee is a fixed amount per transaction, so there is some benefit to the cash machine's operator in encouraging you to make multiple transactions.

  7. Go to a counter in a branch. Then you get slightly higher denominations (still only 50s, compared with 1000 CHF in Switzerland) and can watch them count it out in a secure environment. Checking several hundred pounds in twenties standing in front of a street cash machine, on the other hand, could make one rather vulnerable. And that is before you start trying to stuff the wodge into your wallet as though you've just landed in the Republic of Toyland.

    Try to deal with cash in any sensible way in the UK, and it tends to be a pretty third world experience.

    But the Bank of England is in denial about inflation, so don't expect the situation to improve.

    The median wage is around 1750 per month. It doesn't seem unreasonable that issuers of notes and coins should be expected to provide for a month's worth of average wages to be carried around in compact form, for those who like to operate this way.

  8. There's a very good reason by ATMs have a daily or transaction limit. It's called fraud. You'd love it if a fraudster skimmed your card details and was then able to withdraw every penny from your bank account in one quick withdrawal.

    1. There is a daily limit on my card, and that makes some sense for this although mostly the fraud is by fraudster against bank and not ultimately my concern or something for which I should be inconvenienced. This instance is the machine, and is a txn limit, and as such is totally useless at stopping fraud. I can stand there and use the one card multiple times just as a fraudster could.


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