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Transaction denied . . . Brian Fraser stands in front of the spot where the Westpac ATM once stood. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

North End residents and business owners are in shock and disbelief following the removal of a Westpac ATM in the Oamaru suburb last Thursday.

Brian Fraser, owner of the North Oamaru Four Square store, was one of many in the area surprised at the removal of the machine.

“Gobsmacked” was the first feeling that hit as he watched the workers removing it, he said.

“I was rather surprised when I saw the workers there and that was what they were doing.”

Over the years, the machine had provided a handy banking service to the elderly members of the community, he said.

“It’s a kick in the teeth to everyone who was relying on it.”

In the lead-up to its removal, no notice was given to people or other businesses in the area.

It would be nice to see another bank install a new machine to replace the old one, Mr Fraser said.

The closest ATM was inside the Northside New World supermarket on Thames Highway. However, that machine was only available during the store’s business hours.

Following last week’s removal, many people were still walking to where the machine used to be, Mr Fraser said.

“The look on their faces when they realised it wasn’t there was absolute disbelief.”

Tim Arthur, from Arthur’s Antiques, was also disappointed.

He believed the decision to remove it was made by an executive in Auckland who “didn’t care” about people in North Otago.

“They probably think they don’t have to tell us,” he said.

It was common to see the machine busy during all hours of day and night, Mr Arthur said.

Both shop owners felt the elderly members of the community would suffer because they would now have to travel further to withdraw money.

Westpac media relations manager Will Hine acknowledged the machine had been removed.

He said Westpac removed its machines for a number of reasons, including the age of the machine, lease considerations, security issues, and declining use as more customers used online banking instead.

“All of the major banks have now dropped the fee charged to customers for using their eftpos or debit cards at ATMs belonging to other banks,” he said.

“Customers can now use more than 2400 ATMs around the country, four times as many as before, without incurring a fee.”