A number of Moree residents were left upset and angry to find the automated teller machine (ATM) at Balo Square had been removed recently.
The National Australia Bank (NAB) ATM had been located in a central position at Balo Square shopping centre for a number of years but about two weeks ago it was replaced with an arcade claw machine without any warning to customers.
Many residents have since been put out by the removal, with a number taking to Facebook to air their disappointment.
Ron Turton has been particularly vocal about the ATM removal, posting a ‘thumbs down’ on the Moree Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Facebook page.
“Thumbs down to those responsible for removing the ATM from Balo Square. Now we have a shopping centre in Moree without a pretty common convenience. Now you have to go to the CBD to take money out of the wall. Good luck getting a parking space. Who makes these crazy decisions,” his post said.
There are now no ATM facilities in the shopping centre – the biggest in Moree which includes Coles, Liquorland, Target and Rockmans, as well as a number of other small specialty stores – which means residents have to get their cash out from the banks or ATMs in the central business district.
Mr Turton said the biggest issue is accessing the ATMs in the CBD, particularly for the elderly or people with a disability, as there is often limited car parks, especially in front of the NAB branch.
“I used that machine a lot, just to get bank statements before I do my shopping at Coles,” he said.
“It’s the convenience. It’s got the biggest car space for shoppers and you’ve got to walk past it to go to Coles or Target.
“Now if you want to get $20 out or a statement you have to go to the CBD and it’s hard to get a park. There’s nothing positive about them taking it away.”
Safety is also a concern.
Another resident, Lyn Tooth said she feels much safer getting her cash out inside a busy shopping centre instead of out on the street where she could be an easy target for thieves.
“I feel a little bit more comfortable coming in here to get my cash out,” she said.
Ms Tooth said she always used the ATM to get her cash out before she did her weekly shop at Coles.
“It was just so convenient – you walked there to get your money out on your way to Coles and then you could work out what you had to spend,” she said.
“That ATM was used regularly and the day I found it no longer there I observed three people within a short time were also looking for it.”
While Coles do offer cash out, store manager Ryan Lumb said there has been a signicant increase in the number of people asking for cash out since the ATM has been removed.
“We have definitely noticed a lot more traffic coming through wanting cash out,” he said.
As a result, Coles is no longer giving cash out from the cigarette counter as too many people were taking time away from customers who were buying something from the store.
Mr Turton said it’s not fair on the staff at Coles.
“I know you can get cash out at Coles but the girls at Coles are busy enough and Coles isn’t a bank,” he said.
Jenny McNamara from Liquorland said she has also noticed an increase in the number of people asking for cash out since the ATM was removed.
“People have come in here complaining and we do have a lot more people getting cash out,” she said.
When she found out the ATM was gone, Ms Tooth contacted the shopping centre’s management who told her that NAB weren’t renewing their lease on the ATM.
Mr Turton has also been making his own enquiries and is awaiting a response from NAB.
Both Mr Turton and Ms Tooth would like to see the ATM reinstalled.
The Moree Champion has contacted the centre management but is yet to hear back.