Office Depot Employee — "We Changed Prices Too"
Secondly, you underestimate the power of local support. I'm definitely not waving the Geek Squad flag here, but with some purchases it's better to go with a local vendor for faster support.
A good friend of mine works for a local independent high-end A/V shop(maybe 15 employees total, including installers), and he runs in to this on a daily basis. Their main consumer base is composed of people who want to buy quality equipment from a sales staff that actually knows their shit, and go to a place where "customer service" doesn't mean beating somebody over the head with extended warranties. And from personal experience it seems most of these customers have at one point been burned or fucked-over by the Best Buys and the Circuit Cities of the world and just want to talk to an informed employee in a low pressure environment.
There is no rebuttal that will appease a customer that walks in the door with a printout from a fly-by-night online retailer or eBay seller quoting a receiver at 1/2 price off of a unit that normally retails for $2000. There is absolutely no way to compete with that from a pure price standpoint. What those people fail to recognize is that if something goes wrong...if the unit ships damaged...or if you need help in designing or setting up your system...THAT is where the local stores have a distinct advantage.
Personally, when it comes to buying things that I am 100% confident in my ability to fix or setup myself (computers, car parts, etc.), then it's time to fire up Firefox and break out the credit card. But if I am going to make a big purchase and I am still unsure about the advantages and disadvantages to certain products, or if I just want to see it in person and play with it, then it is pretty hard to beat a reputable (key word) B&M store.
Our ATM Is Broken, Go To Jail
I worked in an internal ATM Help Desk department for one of the biggest 5 banks in the US for about a year and a half, and you bring up some really good points regarding banks. Man, what an absolutely miserable 1.5 years of my life. One important thing I pulled away from the experience though is that I learned how frequently ATMs have mechanical failures, and to [i]always[/i] get a receipt with your transaction. Always. And that banks pay their employees absolute shit.
ATMs are stocked with a LOT of cash at some point of the day, sometimes multiple times. Although i never really got to get a GOOD look at the machines, i was assured by everyone and the techs who went out to service them that "they don't make mistakes." Now, check my signature The amount of cash can actually vary greatly and depends on the market/location and what the machine goes through on an average week or month. An ATM in the middle of the sticks may only do one or two transactions a day max, and will probably only have a small amount ($5-10K) in bills. Some ATMs in more populated areas (suburban gas stations, etc.) may get stocked with $20K and will get replenished weekly. High-traffic areas (front gate at Disney World, water parks in Texas, satellite ATMs for special events like concert festivals) may get $100K+ and easily can tear through that in a couple of days.
We worked with the techs directly on the phone all day and sorry to say but whoever you talked to was definitely not telling the truth. The normal "route" guys (think of the guys driving armored trucks doing cash swaps at your local convenience store) are generally very uneducated, are on a tight time schedule, and only care about one thing: swapping cash and pulling deposits. If something breaks they'll do minimal troubleshooting like re-seating cassettes or possibly rebooting the ATM, but that's it. Anything past that and we'd have to put in a call to their dispatch to get an actual tech out there and the ATM may be partially or totally incapacitated for days. Depending on the company the 2nd level techs generally knew their shit but still needed some assistance to figure out what was going on. A lot of the problems at this point were jammed/broken cassettes, dispenser units failing, keypads failing (big PITA since a lot of newer ATMs store their 3DES keys in the keypad itself), and so on. Just like cars, ATMs are highly mechanical and a lot of belts and whatnot fail over time.
If you are even short changed at an ATM, make sure to report it immediately to the branch if they are operating under normal business hours. If they are closed, call it in immediately and find out what you are required to do. Under normal circumstances you will get your money either through credit to your account or cash on the spot. Without doubt. And this is exactly where having the receipt on-hand is an absolute MUST. Call your customer service# and report it immediately. The CSR will file a form for you called a Regulation E form, which is a federal form that has to be filled out if there is any kind of electronic discrepancy. They'll ask for your transaction# which is printed right on the receipt. You give the CSR that, along with the amount requested and amount received, and they should be able to see exactly what happened. Most of the time the ATM will catch the mistake and reverse the charge immediately...in the trans logs for example you would see a withdrawal attempt for $20, see an immediate posting for $20R (R = reversal), and everything is gravy. Filing the Reg E just covers your ass. In the event that the ATM doesn't recognize the mistake, file the Reg E and the route will have to do a cash audit on the machine, where they'll see it's $20 off. We'd shut the machine down at this point.
What sucked was when the techs would very occasionally mis-load the cassettes with the wrong denomination. Say, $20s instead of $5s. Then it turned into an accounting nightmare and somebody on the cash servicer side would get in deep shit for that.
As hard as it is to believe, Diebold actually makes some of the better ATMs out there. Their techs are some of the more knowledgeable ones out there, compared to companies like Fujitsu and NCR.