I’m doubt that many companies want their customers to unnecessarily panic when using their service. Yet that’s exactly what happened when I used a Vancity ATM recently.It was a simple, straightforward transaction – a quick $20 cash withdrawal requiring just a few taps from the initial welcome screen. However, when it came time for the machine to dispense the cash, I instead got a very generic “Your transaction has been declined” message. My card was then promptly spat out with no further information. I knew my account was good for the $20, so what was up? I tried three times because I could only think of one reason for this message — that I must have hit the wrong button and accidentally added extra figures that would then put me beyond my daily withdrawal limit. Then a second possible reason dawned on me. I had a flashback to when my checking account had been compromised and drained of all its funds. I had discovered this when I had tried to use my debit card and had also been given a similarly generic “declined” message. Could it be the same situation?! The hours upon hours that I had invested in sorting out that whole nightmare flashed before my very eyes. Panic kicked in. Thankfully, there was another ATM and I moved over to it, thinking that I would just try once more, and also double-check my balance at the same time. My heart thumped loudly as the machine hummed after I selected “withdrawal”…and then it ejected my $20 bill. After all the panic, it turned out the other machine was just out of bills. So solution time: Why not just tell the user this upfront, and then disable the “withdrawal” option? Or let the user know this via a message once that option has been selected? Or – simplest fix of all – don’t use the word “declined,” which I’m sure never has positive connotations in association with one’s financial accounts.