Be Afraid of Standard Bank ATMs

Be very careful when you put your bank cards in a Standard Bank ATM. There is a know flaw with their ATM network.

What a painful day.

So on Wednesday night I go to get some cash from the Standard Bank ATM in Camps Bay. It gives me my cash, but it keeps my card and prints out some lame slip saying my card was retained because of a technical problem. Error code: 0231 *ARgghh!!* The ATM goes into “broken” mode, with a red screen… which is kinda warped.

No phone number on the ATM.

The next day I attempt to figure out which branch is responsible for that ATM.. I try the branch locator on their website.. it’s broken so I attempt to phone the Standard Bank call centre.. useless as expected, but happy to put me through to the “Camps Bay branch”.. which is a dead end. Later I discover there is no such thing as the Camps Bay branch. Muppets.

Friday, I drive back to the ATM and start talking to the people in the shops next to the ATM. The travel agent and jeweller both seem pretty annoyed with this ATM. They tell me it’s been swallowing cards for a long time, at a rate of 4+ cards per day. Often these are cards of tourists.. even more painful than my experience.

Turns out the jeweller had phoned the people who administer the ATM earlier that day.. three guys show up. Two with bullet proof jackets and guns. I ask if my card is in the ATM. They tell me they can’t give me my card.. fine, but it would be nice to know if my card is there. Nope. OK, what now? Hmm.. not sure.

These guys were _no_ help.. they must be ex-Zim CIA.

Once a day they probably get to the ATM, see the red screen and happily reset it to the standard operating mode without wondering why the screen is always RED!! when they get there. Muppets.

The jeweller figures the closest branch is in Sea Point and they probably take the cards there.

I stand in the queue for a while, get to the front, explain the whole thing and get told my card has been destroyed.. *ARRGGHHH!!*

Sense of humour failure.

OK.. so how do we deal with a business which has obvious flaws but a million monkeys happy to follow the process of least resistance? Well, share the pain and discomfort.. waste the time of somebody with a bit of influence.. somebody who’s time is of equal or more value than my time. Simple economics.

I go see the bank manager and start asking a few questions about their ATM network.

She tells me it’s an “IT problem”.. IT knows about the problem, it affects all their ATMs but the IT department does not want to commit to a timeline for fixing the problem… this is getting entertaining. The card swallowing is happening often. Their “workaround” for the problem seems to be to wait a day before they destroy the cards.

I tell my story. She agrees their call centre is useless and their ATM staff are not helpful. I found that kind of honesty refreshing.. but somehow depressing.. she must hear stories like this very often.

Skipping ahead, she was very helpful.. ordered a new card, gave me her contact details, gave me a temporary debit card, kept the branch open to let me get some cash.

Now, I have to wait 5 working days to get the new card and I have to reset my online banking profile… so I can’t use online banking at the moment.

What a gigantic waste of time. Two hours of pain.. and more to come.

Let’s just zoom out here for a second and think about what the functions of an ATM, a call centre and online banking are… uuuhhmmm, automatic teller.. I guess it keeps customers away from the branch and allows them to help themselves. Same goes for online banking and kinda true for call centres.

These are the barriers, the primary lines of defence.. they keep customers from wanting to strangle bank employees. These functions are the true white collars of the modern banking world, they keep the whole thing civil.

Ok, not call centres.. all call centres are doomed.

Now you begin to see what an EPIC FAILURE this is.. some greasy IT brat is not fixing the problem, not taking responsibility and not seeing the effects.. but poisoning an entire ecosystem by crippling the things that make the experience of modern banking almost bearable.

You have been warned.

32 thoughts on “Be Afraid of Standard Bank ATMs

  1. Hi Joe

    My name is Bellinda, I’m the Senior Online Marketing Manager at Sandard Bank. We discovered your post through Rafiq’s tweet and having read your story can completely understand why you’d be so upset. I will look into the problem with more senior colleagues at the bank and get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime if you have any other questions don’t hesitate to drop me a mail.


    1. On the 02 May 2012 I went to the Standard bank ATM STDAC447 inside shoprite esselen street.I wanted to withdraw 4500 ,but sice the ATM can only give you the allowance of 1500 at a time,i withdraw the first 1500 at 18h59 then my balance left was R7403.23 was ,second 1500 at 19HOO balance remaining was 5993.23 ,the 3rd 1500 that i tried to withdraw did not come out the slip came out written (requested 1500 but dispensed 00) and machine said the amount could not be processed cause the was an error .The 4th transaction was 1000 at 19h04 which went through and my balance was 4993.23. So I left the ATM with my balance being fine.But in the morning my account reflected that the other 1500 which did not come went through on my bank statement.
      Zeenath Hassen

      So like a normal understanding citizen i called the bank to log a call thereafter went to the bank and they said they understand it happens all the time,but i have to wait for 15 days turnaround so they can investigate.15 days is a very long time when you have bills hanging all over your shoulder.Zeeath i am not pleased about the whole thing,and i would appreciate if somenoe can give me a call today still to explain why my money reflected it went out though it never did and why is it that standard bank takes 15 days to solve a crisis.

      Please call me on 073 777 335
      account number 5222 5022 6202 6137

  2. Hi Bellinda

    Thanks for the quick response. Hope you can motivate the senior people to fix this.

    Btw.. I’ve also been wondering why it takes 5 days to get a new credit card, I’d say one day to print and one day to transport. Let’s call it 3.. not 5?

  3. Joe,

    So sorry to hear about your experience with Standard Bank.
    This type of thing is so typical in the banking industry.
    You’d think there where laws to govern this sort of behavior, the sad news my friend is that no matter how Pd off we get there is nothing we can do. Well thats what the banks think ;-)

    You see how fast you get a response when you post your story for the world to see. hehe, this is our last line of defense, and I can state that it works. A few years ago, my dad had a blast at Standard Bank, after they stole more than R20k from his account (also with some IT excuse.) It took 5months to get the money bank, with a most unhelpful bank I have ever seen. It was only after we went to the international press that action was taken to help us and refund the money.

    Lets hope the bank wakes up to the fact that the modern generation will not wait 5months to be helped!

    I hope your story motivates the bank to fix the problem sooner.

    You got my vote.

  4. Hey Simon

    I can’t imagine it’s an easy job running a bank.. but I would agree that there is a major imbalance in power when the average customer falls through a crack in the system.

    No more secrets.

  5. Perhaps it’s time to consider switching banks, maybe that will get Standard Bank to act on the issue you raise. With ABSA for example, if you need a replacement debit/ATM card, one is issued to you at the branch immediately; no temporary card nonsense. Credit cards take a maximum of 1 week to be issued, and the branch contacts you by telephone to notify you that it can be collected. ABSA’s service is generally very smooth, their call-centres and staff competent and their Internet Banking just works.

    I don’t work for them, I’m just a happy client of theirs.

  6. Hi Warren

    I guess I could threaten to change banks..

    I’ve used other banks. I’m actually a fairly loyal Standard Bank customer.. pretty much all my accounts (including business) are with STD bank.

    STD bank also does immediate ATM/debit cards and 5 working day credit card replacements. I’m assuming this is the norm.

    I guess it’s a question of the lesser evil.. or the people you build the best relationship with.. or maybe everybody will just reach a point where they walk away from central banking systems :-P

  7. It’s not only Standard Bank. I had a simular problem with Nedbank in Robertson, Western Cape.
    Went into the bank, they first refused to return my card but when I loudely and in public threatened them to lay a charge for theft they suddenly became very helpfull.
    Normally it seems that one has to pay for a new card after the old one has been swallowed ….
    ATM’s are like people; they are not perfect.

    But there is something else. From an Australian tourist we understood that after they cashed R 1000.00 at an ATM in Stellenbosch 3000 AUS dollar was writen off their Australian bank account. They (warned for skimming) did not allow anybody near the ATM. According to the Australian bank it is very possible that telecom lines between ATM’s and their servers are tapped by crooks or an inside job at the bank in question. Stellenbosch is by the way on the ‘hotlist’ of several overseas banks. Skimmed credit cards are all cashed at ATM’s in certain areas in and near Cape Town where the cameras are ‘out of order’.
    There is a general feeling at overseas banks that South African banks don’t pay enough attention to this problem.

    More than enough reason for us to advise overseas visitors to go into a bank during opening hours and cash at the teller.

  8. Nice blog design Joe. I’ve had a similar experience where the card insertion slot is loose and the atm badly lit. I stuck my card right into a gaping whole never to see it again.

  9. Hey Morgan

    I noticed the Diebold brand on all the new ATMs.

    Get this..

    Today I stick the (tmp) debit card they issued me with last week in a Diebold ATM at Cavendish Square. Screen goes blue, it reboots twice, plays me charming Windows startup sounds and keeps my card.

    Am I just the most unlucky person on the planet? WTF!!

    So I go to the bank and tell the lady at the info desk I need to do three things, one of which is (obviously).. I need a new card and I say: which one do you want to do first. Guess what, she wants to issue me a new card first.

    Maybe it’s because it’s the easiest process they have and they are just so good at it by now.

    I ask her how often she issues new cards because of ATM swallowing.. and she says: very often and even more towards the end of each month.. in fact she just issued one two minutes ago.

    Can somebody spot the pattern here?

    Is it easier for Standard Bank to keep issuing new cards than to fix the problem? I hear bells ringing. Standard Bank people must be really good at ignoring the sound of those bells.

    Now I’m really annoyed.

    Does anybody know of an ATM network than does not run Windows?

    Are there laws against this? Is there some regulator for consumer banking in SA.. regulating how lame banks can and can’t be?

  10. WOW, ok I don’t feel so bad about my rant!!!
    I think it might be time to change banks… Although it is kind of a case of “best of a bad bunch.”
    Last year, around May, Standard Bank received a batch of faulty cards, which they issued to the public, even though they were aware that the cards were faulty.
    Basically, I would get a new card, it would work three times, then go mental and refuse to work.
    So approximately every three to four days, I had to go into Standard Bank during lunch at work and stand in the queue for an hour for a new one.
    I mentioned that this whole “card problem” was not really acceptable, but the lady behind the teller desk said “unfortunately, we got a faulty batch but we will give you a new card for free every time it stops working!”
    What they didn’t take into account was the R5.50 I had to pay every single time that card didn’t work and I would try four different ATM’s to see if there would be a difference.

  11. Bellinda.. one week later, no response?

    5 business days later, nobody has contacted me about my credit card..
    and the branch locator on your website is still broken.

    Wildly underwhelmed.

    I’m betting they are going to bill me for the replacement card.

  12. faaakin annoying…

    So I phone the card division number to find out if my card is at the branch yet.
    I read the guy the tracking/reference number.

    All I want to know is: is my new card at the branch?

    I make it clear that I don’t want to do the 20 questions verification crap.

    I don’t even want to know which branch it’s going to, I know that already, all I need is: yes or no.
    That was a fun dead end.


    Why the fork bother giving me a tracking number if it’s useless?

  13. Finally received a text message to say that my replacement card is at the branch today, only 3 days late.. and not there anymore.

    In the end Bellinda did email me some feedback… we know about the problem, blah, we can’t fix it in the holiday season, blah, blah, we’ll fix the branch-locator (still not working), blah, still don’t know why credit card replacements take 5+ days, blah, blah..

    ..basically useless information, makes you feel so “inspired, motivated and involved”.


  14. In the last 12 years I’ve had two ATM cards. The first one got cancelled by accident in 2001 (finger trouble by the computer operator, apparently someone else with a similar name wanter to cancel their card), and Absa gave me a new one free of charge.

    I’ve had zero card problems with Absa ATMs. Not sure if this is sufficient reason to recommend them, but they don’t irritate me too much except for charging R8.15 for a withdrawal (!). Easily countered by drawing cash less often.

    Problems I did have: One ATM in Somerset Mall failed to supply the cash, but the error was logged and the transaction was reversed the next day.

    Absa also set up two different “combi-numbers” so that my internet banking does not stop working if my ATM card is cancelled. This was REALLY useful when my wallet and ID document got stolen a few years ago and I had no way to get my hand on cash other than transferring it to my wife’s account and drawing it from there.

    Finally, make sure they don’t charge you for the new card if it is their fault!

  15. TWO years later – the problem still persists!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG…. changing banks TODAY!

  16. Today is my wedding anniversary and I am furious. I live in New York and traveled all the way to celebrate in CApe Town. My anniversary is ruined! I am suppose to be reminiscing about my special day 7 years ago but I am online trying to locate the Standard Bank Camps Bay branch address as advised by SB customer care. Luckily I came across this posting otherwise I would have wasted most of my evening. I cannot believe it is 3 years and this problem still has not been addressed!!! Least to say I am suppose to check out tomorrow and I hv no card and no cash. YOU SUCK Standard bank!!!!

  17. All I can add to these tales is that after lurching around between Standard bank (business accounts) and ABSA (personal accounts) I have since settled down with FNB. Not perfect but the attitude is good.

    My ABSA experience is worth retelling, just for a laff. I get off the plane in JHB with a voice msg “Your credit card was picked up at CPT airport and handed in. Call {name} at ABSA airport branch”. I do so. Confirms that my card is safely in ABSA hands. *ha*. On return, I stop by, info desk is closed despite tellers being open. No can do. *Argh*

    Next time I get to the airport, I stop by. Card’s been destroyed…policy is it must be collected within n days. THANKS FOR TELLING ME.

    The story has just begun! Ring ring. ABSA card dept. Strange transactions on your card mate. Err…you destroyed this card yourselves. Mmmm..did we? {breathes deeply, counts to 10 etc}. Yes, speak to {name}, and check the counter book bleeding red-ink where my name and card number was written down.

    Mmm..ok. Transactions reversed. New card arrives. No time to try and follow up on the many questions this raises.

  18. I came across your blog while researching Standard bank ATM issues. I tried using the ATM in Epping on Saturday afternoon, after punching in my pin and the amount the ATM swallowed my card. I then got an sms saying that R1000 was withdrawn from my account but no money came out. I immediately called the lost card call centre to report what had happened and to cancel my card, the operator told me that it happens quite often and I should visit the bank on Monday. I went to the Standard Bank in Montague Gardens the Monday during my lunch to report what had happened. They told me it would take 3 working days to investigate the issue, this morning I received an SMS saying that my withdrawal claim was unsuccessful and I had to contact the Complaints Resolution Centre to lay a complaint so they can further investigate the issue. Apparently the ATM machine balanced and therefore my request was unsuccessful. I’m quite annoyed, why the run around, it’s their faulty machines that’s causing all these issues. I was told by the operator Kelly, that it would take 5 working days before they can report back to me. That’s 8 working days I have to wait to hear the outcome. After being with Standard Bank for almost 8 years, this is the service I get. A similar thing happened to a friend of mine using FNB, her money was returned to her within 24 hours! I’m definitely changing banks!

    I came across this post on the Sowetan Live website. Check out the link below…
    Read Thelma Mampuru’s case:

  19. See the original entry was in November 2008… Had the same 0231 error from a Standard Bank ATM in Kuruman 5 days ago! 5 years and they still haven’t resolved the issue! Pillocks

  20. Standard bank ATM’s sucks big time, The atm swallowed my FNB cheque card yesterevening, can the bank be able to open and check it for me??????

    I’ll never use any standard bank ATM ever again and I’m gona encourage everyone I know to stay far away from the bank & their ATM’s. I hate it.

  21. ATM in Paardeneiland, Cape Town has been dysfunctional for the last six months. Firstly it couldn’t read chipped cards, then one couldn’t select the account to withdraw from (still can’t-tried yesterday) & it has a voracious appetite for swallowing cards. Standard Bank has so many wonderful people at branch level. Unfortunately things are crumbling around them. At support level I think the employment criteria is that you have to be a moron. They email my statements to me but I can’t open them because they have my ID number incorrect (correct at my branch!!)-stopped fighting with them now-hopeless mission to get it right. Favourite word is ESCALATE. This means some other moron will get the job of wasting your time. This elephant (SB) has decided to trundle off down the road to distruction and it seems that the people who care aren’t empowered to do something about it and those that are in the position to do something about it either don’t have the skills (Inclination?) or are too busy enjoying the ride. What was once the leading banker is now the leading w?anker.

  22. Today a simular thing happen to me at a standard bank atm in george,i withdrawn money,my card come out but i did not receive any money,check my balance on my phne and on other atm,amount that i requested shown and withdrawn,staff member of the standard bank loan center assist me,they phned the company who loads the machines to rebooth,but nothing happens,so he walked wth me to the main branch and explain to them what happened,they logged a complain,and i was just told it will take 4/5working days before feedback ,that’s not good enough,i’m a standard bank client and think their service sucks,i will definitly change banks,i need the money now not next week,what am i to do just wait,or what

  23. Hi Belinda

    On the 3rd of April 2014. my brother went to an ATM in ballito. he inserted his card and made a request to draw out R5000. he gets a msg on his mobile telling him that R5000 was drawn but he did not receive the cash. he then went inside the bank to enquire as to what is going on but the lady at the counter told him that she is sorry because there is nothing that she can do to assist. R5000 is a lot of money to over look.

    can i get a full enquiry into this please.



  24. Hi i am a caputec client and went to withdraw money from standard bank atm at midrand boulders mall,atm gave me back my card but no cash,,machine kept on saying busy processing your withdrawal,lodged a complaint and they said they cant help me because im not a standard bank client.i then went to capitec and they said they will investigate though it will take 30 working days,,,,,,what to do

  25. Ive been having endless issues with STD bank.

    Last year @ Suncoast Casino….i withdrew R1000….received the sms but no cash.

    My trip to PMB to DBN was spoiled because i had no access to cash. Took a few business days to sort out…..had to return to PMB very dissapointed & frustrated.

    Last week whilst withdrawing cash at Hermans Shell garage, the ATM switched off not dispensing the cash……still awaiting feedback from incompetent STD bank staff.

    I can understand technical glitches will occur but their turn around time sucks.

    STD bank does not seem to understand the inconvenience they cause to their clients.

    I will definitely change banks….just need the time to do so.

    Ive been a STD bank client for over 12 years…since my first salary.

  26. Even their Ucount cards are a joke…….never works at Caltex forecourts….forever declines even though there is available credit.

    STD bank should start employing the right people for the job because clearly their existing staff are messing up big time.

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