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Bank blunder leaves Harold Hill woman eating tinned food alone over Christmas

PUBLISHED: 13:14 31 December 2015 | UPDATED: 14:38 31 December 2015

Hazel Gibbons spent Christmas eating tinned goods after an error trying to withdraw £300

Hazel Gibbons spent Christmas eating tinned goods after an error trying to withdraw £300

Archant

A luckless woman was left eating tinned food alone over Christmas after a broken ATM left her £300 out of pocket.

Hazel was due to visit her mum in Surrey but couldn't afford petrolHazel was due to visit her mum in Surrey but couldn't afford petrol

Hazel Gibbons, 46, had to cancel a trip to Surrey to see her mum and had no money for food because of the bank blunder on Christmas Eve.

She had tried to withdraw money from a cash machine outside Santander, Farnham Road, Harold Hill but an error message appeared on the screen.

And instead of Jessica Ennis-Hill, who appears from behind an ATM to delight customers with gifts in the bank’s ad campaign, Hazel’s surprise was that the money had been taken from her account.

A cashier inside the branch then explained it would take three working days to fix the problem, leaving unemployed Hazel with no money.

“I spent Christmas at home with my two dogs and had a tin of fruit and soup each day,” said Hazel, of Redcar Road, Harold Hill. “I’m on benefits, the money was just for basics – food and petrol.

“I suffer from depression and I lost my dad over Christmas a few years ago. I was meant to go to Surrey to see my mum for two days but I couldn’t get there.”

Hazel said she didn’t want to ask friends for money because she wouldn’t be able to pay it back if the bank didn’t fix the problem, and her family weren’t in a position to help.

“It’s been a constant worry,” she said. “I like to treat my dogs and it was one of their birthdays. I couldn’t get them anything.”

The bank has apologised to Hazel for the inconvenience and as well as putting the money back, has sent her a Christmas hamper.

“I told them I’d seen their Christmas advert and it upset me,” said Hazel. “It shows them giving gifts to their customers and wishing them a good Christmas. It seems to me they have done the complete opposite.”

She will still visit Surrey in the new year, but her holiday wasn’t completely spoilt as a friend took her to Toby Carvery for a Christmas dinner yesterday.

“That was really nice,” she said. “It’s good there because I can take half the meat home for my dogs too.”

A Santander spokeswoman said: “If an ATM dispute is raised by a customer, in the majority of cases, the customer will be credited within 48 working hours of the claim being raised, however some cases may require further investigation before the credit is applied.

“Due to the bank holiday and less working days it took a little longer but the funds have now been credited into Miss Gibbons’ account. To apologise for the inconvenience over the Christmas period we have sent her a hamper with our best wishes.”

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