Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Cash windfall for Dundee ATM users

Man with big money bagIt’s not often that a story relating to cash dispensers, or ATMs (automatic teller machine), has a happy outcome if there is some sort of fault or error in their operation, but it looks as if some lucky folk in Dundee have ended up ahead after such an occurrence.

Police were called to attend an apparent disturbance reported at a cash machine sited near the Scotmid store in Fintry Road, Dundee, where it transpired that the ATM had been dispensing twice the actual amount requested. The machine had no connection with the store, and was taken out of service shortly afterwards, while the police reported that there had been no incident as such at the scene.

The operator said the payouts had occurred as a result of incorrect packing of the cassettes used to house the cash within the dispenser, describing it as a rare occurrence, and able to be dealt with quickly.

The good news for anyone that happened to use the dispenser while it was handing out doubles was that they were not going to be pursued for return of the cash. Although the amount concerned is probably small, as a witness mentioned a crows of only 60 or so at the machine, a help line number was issued, and the operator said it was up to people’s individual conscience regarding what they did with the additional money they had received in error.

Seems no-one has called the number… yet.

Ironically, Dundee was once one home to NCR’s ATM manufacturing facility at their defunct Gourdie plant, closed in 2009 prior to demolition. Some 60 years in operation, the factory was cleared to make way for a supermarket.

I had reason to visit the factory a few times, for work reasons, and despite that long period on service, as I recall, it looked quite modern inside, and that ATMs seemed to look a lot bigger when you saw them standing in isolation, rather than built into a wall.


There was a later report of a similar problem, at te start of March 2011, when some Australian cash machines were found to be handing out greater amounts of cash than requested: BBC News – What should you do if a cash machine overpays?

I happened to have been reading the detail of the Theft Act 1968 recently, in relation to another subject, and the situation is relatively clear cut, provided the precise circumstances of the event can be established.

However, one aspect did surprise – and disappoint – me, and this was the response of someone who clearly does not have the wherewithal to justify the job he has managed to con his way into, namely Tim Chappell, Director, Open University Ethics Centre.

I’ve watched and enjoyed the Open University since it first appeared, and think it does a fine job, but have to say that if it’s board thinks Tim Chappell is a person to fit to hold the position of Dirtector of it Scool of Ethics, then someone need a wake-up call.

He clearly has no grasp of the concepts he is supposedly charged with teaching, as his take on the cash machine overpayment issue – which may have been fine for banter in the pub, but not for publication in the name of the Open University – was:

What do banks do with the money they make out of their ‘account charges’ and ‘service charges’? Well, for one thing, these charges pay for systems that protect the banks from risks like cash-machine malfunction. If those systems let the banks down, I say ‘tough on the banks – it’s a windfall for the customers’.

Just as when the bankers pay themselves huge bonuses out of the charges they exact on our accounts, the banks say ‘tough on the customers – it’s a windfall for us.’ The bankers get plenty of free lunches. Why shouldn’t their customers too?


He should be handed the proverbial ceremonial sword and be asked to fall on it, and go.


January 22, 2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

No, we don’t – Oops, yes, we do.

petrol nozzleLast month, I commented on fuel poverty in Scotland, and effectively beat the politicians to mention “Tax Windfall”, at least by that name.

Since then, Westminster and Alistair Darling have insisted that there was no such thing as a “Tax Windfall”, and that the increasing taxes on fuel would continue regardless of other price rises, as the government’s tool to reduce harm to the environment from its use.

Now, he’s s conceded high oil and gas prices could lead to a Treasury tax windfall. Mr Darling said rising fuel costs “do generate greater receipts from North Sea corporation tax and petroleum revenue tax”.

The comments came in a letter to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. But Mr Darling said it was too early to tell how much extra tax would come in – and he again denied there would be any VAT windfall.

Apparently the logic of the windfall’s failure to appear is explained by people finite financial resources, meaning that the tax take will stay the same because they will purchase less fuel as the price rises, but since the cost has gone up, so will the tax.

However, this logic (which is flawed, since we know many people are tied to their cars and will buy fuel almost regardless of price – sad, isn’t it) conveniently forgot that higher oil and gas prices generate greater receipts from both North sea corporation tax and petroleum revenue tax.

Fisherman, farmers and road hauliers teamed up to gain Alex Salmond’s support to press the UK Government for a fuel duty regulator to offset the cost of rising oil prices. The Scottish Government has also announced it would commission a study on setting up an oil fund for Scotland – which Mr Darling described in his letter as “inappropriate”.

June 18, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment


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