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Published: Wednesday, 7/26/2006

Fine print holds key info on ATM deposits


On a recent afternoon, Kristin Pensenstadler of Irwin, Pa., rushed to make a cash deposit at a National City Bank ATM before 4 to cover purchases made with her check card.

But the deposit cutoff time at the machine was 3. The funds weren't credited to her account until the next day, and Ms. Pensenstadler was hit with more than $200 in fees for overdrawing her account.

Ms. Pensenstadler thought the cutoff was 4 because that's the time posted at branch offices for deposits at teller windows. No specific cutoff times are posted at National City ATMs.

National City spokesman Bill Eiler said that if Ms. Pensenstadler had read the fine print in her account agreement, she would have known that the cutoff at ATMs was 3 p.m.

He said the bank puts signs at ATMs warning that deposits may not be available for immediate withdrawal but doesn't post a specific cutoff time because it might not apply to customers of other banks who are using National City's ATMs.

"We feel the [current] wording is easily understood," Mr. Eiler said. "Customers have the responsibility to read their account agreements" given them when they open accounts, he said.

Ms. Pensenstadler also noted that the receipt she got at the ATM that day showed a balance that included the deposit.

Balances reflect all money in an account "whether or not the funds are available," Mr. Eiler explained. "In order to determine what amount is available, the customer needs to review the funds availability policy" at the bank, he said.

He said that as a courtesy, the bank will refund half of Ms. Pensenstadler's charges.

She said that feels like "half a victory." Even though the bank said the funds were unavailable, "they were there," she said.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Patricia Sabatini is a writer for the Post-Gazette.

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