Saturday, September 27, 2008

Personal Banking: Inefficient ATMs, vanishing ATMs

Last week the Deccan Chronicle carried a letter to the Editor about Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs). The writer was pointing out that many of the ATMs in Chennai were either malfunctioning or were often out of cash. One can easily imagine the inconvenience such situations cause the customers.

On the 18th of this month I went to an ATM belonging to a major new gen bank in Adayar. The purpose was to draw cash for a trip to Cochin. After I keyed in the details, a message flashed across the screen saying that my request could not be processed. I repeated the procedure to make sure and got the same result.

I had to search around for another ATM and found one belonging to the same bank in Beseant Nagar. Fortunately that one worked and I was able to collect cash. But there were avoidable tension and waste of time.

What happened to me earlier in the month is incredible. I was to leave for Bangalore by the early morning Shadapthi Express, and on the previous evening went to our ‘friendly’ neighborhood ATM to withdraw money. I had a real shock.

The ATM had vanished!

A shop man next to the erstwhile booth told me that the ATM had been closed down a few days earlier. Since the bank involved (the same as in the incident narrated earlier) is a leading one, I could not call it a fly by night operation.

I am a client of the said bank, but had no intimation of the closure of the ATM. May be they published a notice in the newspapers but I had not seen it.

Do the banks treat ATMs as a necessary evil and therefore do not pay sufficient attention to maintaining the machines and stocking them with enough money. They should be able to gather effective intelligence on the withdrawal pattern at the different outlets since they are computer operated. That should help them to keep adequate fund levels at each booth. In any case, there cannot be any excuse for the poor maintenance of the machines. The logical conclusion is that the banks do not pay adequate attention to this branch of their business.

Every client has the right to withdraw money from the available balance in his account during banking hours. Preventing an account holder from doing so can, I am sure, attract legal action against the bank concerned.

An ATM is a cash withdrawal facility that is meant to be available on 24x7 on basis.

Irrespective of what the small print says, the banks cannot escape the responsibility to keep the ATMs functional around the clock.

Also see: ATM Service

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