On a recent Baltic cruise we stopped in Tallinn, Estonia. In the city center I used an ATM from Dansk Bank (large, well known Danish bank). I inserted my USAA ATM card. The machine provided all instructions in english. I followed all the standard transaction procedures and everything went well. Except... no cash and no receipt??? Instead the machine went back to the ready mode. My family waited for 15minutes but nothing. Tried calling the number on the wall but no english speakers on the other end. Two hours later on the ship I called USAA to report what happened. Indeed $105 was withdrawn from my account. They put in a reversal immediately pending investigation. When I arrived back home my claim was denied. They provided a log from Dansk indicating that with two minutes I had received 100 euros and a receipt. I asked for an open/closed report to verify my claim that they likely had at least 100 euros more in their machine then the receipts indicated. I also provided a sworn attestation from the three of us that what I reported took place. I also provided the ships itinerary indicating the ship had sailed five hours after my reported transaction took place (i.e., their log was faulty). Lastly, and for what it was worth, I sent a photo of the ATM and offered to provide the meta file. Their only response was that unless I can show a receipt indicating a malfunction, there was nothing they could do... no exceptions. This could have been far, far worse. I was going to take 1,000 euros out but decided I did not want to walk around with that much cash. I can lose a hundred dollars from my pocket and feel bad for a few days, then forget about it. What I lost here was much more than $100. It was lost faith in not only the banking system but USAA which is a top rated American, non-profit that provides financial services for active duty, veteran military.
Rick Steve's has written on this subject and I wish I had followed his advice. He says that one should only use an ATM inside a bank. That way if something malfunctions you have humans to talk to and work out the problem. If someone reads this and learns from it then perhaps it is not a total lose