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Bamboozling Cash Machines

Cash machines (ATMs) in this country love €50 notes (€50 is about $64 or £40 at current exchange rates). Requests for hundred's of euros are usually dispensed in wads of €50's and though most machines also dispense €20's stocks of this lower denomination run out quickly giving rise to a "please select a multiple of €50" message.

I guess that keeping the bulk of cash in one large denomination simplifes operational logistics but it does not mesh well with my personal spending habits. I tend to use a credit or debit card for most purchases over €20. When I spend actually currency it tends to be of the loose change variety: €1 for a newspaper, €2 for a cup of coffee and so on. I can assure your from personal experience that it is a rare vendor who has the professionalism to keep up their customer friendly smile when proffered a €50 note for a €1 purchase.

The foregoing has led to my becoming an accomplished practitioner of the ATM Bamboozlement game. The aim of the game is as follows:

To Bamboozle an ATM into giving you low denomination notes while still making a total withdrawal which is as close as possible to the amount you require.

A secondary rule is that the total amount must be withdrawn in one transaction. This rule is justified by the need to minimise ATM transaction charges but it is also a vital element in maintaining the challenge of the game.

It all boils down to the amount you choose to withdraw. Clearly a request for €100 or €200 will result in your wallet being filled with hard to spend €50 notes. On the other hand a request for €60 is a good play while €80 is an even better one. Both of these requests are likely to be met with a wad of €20's but also leave the tantalising possibility of getting a €10 note from one of the rare ATMs that still stocks this denomination.

Be careful, ATMs do not always play fair. Yesterday I tried to withdraw €110, thinking this to be a master play. The machine refused to comply responding instead with a request for an amount "that can be dispensed in €10, €20 and €50 notes only". There are many ways to dispense €110 using those denominations and in any case I am sure the reference to €10 notes is bogus as I have never seen this particular machine dispense anything smaller than a twenty. Clearly this message was an attempt to dis-orient me and put me off my game.



Too much spare time...

...although you realize I'm going to have to try it now...
Melf_Himself said…
Haha. I do this too. I always take $80 out at the ATM. When I get cash out at the supermarket I opt for $40 instead, since sometimes they look at you dirty if you take all their money.

Since the Aussie dollar is worth much less, I think my 80 beats your 80 in terms of getting the least amount of money out possible :p
mbp said…
I salute a fellow player Melf.

Is there a charge for using ATMs in Australia? In Ireland they are usually free or at most a nominal fee (25c max). In the UK I have been charged up to £1.50 and the USA up to $3. With hefty charges like that the nature of the game would change to making the maximum withdrawal per transaction while still getting some small denomination notes.
Anonymous said…
Have you just started a trend, mbp? You setter, you!
Melf_Himself said…

It depends on the bank. Eith my bank I think I get X amount of transactions per month at ATMs of my financial institution. ATMs belonging to other banks, however, cost something like $1.50 per shot.

I think the winner in your revised game might be to go to $180. Of course at some point you have to factor in the chances of getting mugged and of overdrawing your account :p

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