RICO’s Q – Like most, from time to time we need to get cash from an ATM. Nowadays, this is very straightforward, put in your card, provide the PIN and select the amount and currency. Ping, ping and the cash in your hands.

One of the three $20 bills received from an ATM, which was not acceptable by the same ATM for deposit, and the BAC branch WOULD not accept for deposit.

This applies to both colones (local currency) and dollars.

And like most, I’ve done this a zillion, quadrillion times and will little or no event.

Until a few weeks ago, when taking out dollars from one account to deposit, at the same time, and the same ATM, to another account.

In this case, dollars were being taken out and redeposited. Something I have done on a regular basis. Except, this time, the BAC ATM that gave me 50 US$20 dollar bills (two transactions with their respective charges) refused to accept three of the bills for redeposit.

I tried to deposit the bills at two other ATMs with the same result: rejected.

I held on to the bills to visit a branch, which I did yesterday, the BAC Credomatic at Multiplaza, while waiting on some friends, when to my surprise the branch would not accept for deposit to my account one of the three bills.

Despite my assurance that the bills had come from one of their ATMs, providing the date and time of the transaction, no, the bank cannot accept the bill.

“But, it came from your ATM,” I insisted to the shift supervisor, Michele Cruz, who spend some time with someone higher up, then returned to give me the news that no, the bank could not accept it.

She apologized for the ATM giving me the bills, but not apologetic enough to accept it.

My only recourse is to go to the Central Bank in downtown San Jose where they will accept the bill.

When I asked for a note of her (as a representative of the bank) refusal to accept the bill she disappeared completely, leaving me face to face with the teller, who refused to give his name.

Both, the teller and supervisor, had explained that I should have reported the ‘bad’ bills to the bank at once. “But how?” I asked, given that the ATM in question was inside one of the branches that has limited hours of operation and I was outside those hours. In any event, the bank has many ATMs outside branch operations and how would I be able to report it?

Simple questions. No answers.

So, here are a few tips when using an ATM to take out dollars:

Do so at an ATM within a branch
Do so when the branch is open and has staff on duty
Check each bill carefully
Immediately report any bill that doesn’t muster the test of acceptability
Be prepared to make a line to talk to a cashier or supervisor

In my case, here I am stuck is a bill that I would have never accepted if it had not been from an ATM, and the BAC Credomatic WILL NOT take responsibility for THEIR ERROR.

Isn’t the bank supposed to have security to ensure that torn or damaged dollars, or worse, falsified dollars, do not make it into the ATM ecosystem?

It appears not. And in the case of the BAC, you and I, are left holding to the unacceptable bills that THEY shelled out.

Be careful. Very careful when taking out dollars from an ATM in Costa Rica.

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