Customers of the leading high street banks have reported that automated telling machines are becoming increasingly stingy and obstructive. Since the credit crunch started to bite earlier in the year, a number of cashpoints have started to give vague excuses about not having the right change on them, displaying messages suggesting that you might be asking for too much or just showing half an inch of the notes requested, but then refusing to actually let go of the cash.
One frustrated HSBC Customer Luke Defrayne recalls; ‘We had a right old tug of war; I pulled the notes a little way out, then the machine pulled them back in again. In the end I only managed to walk away with the torn-off corner of a ten pound note – what use is that on a Saturday night?’ Mr Defrayne had wanted to withdraw £100 as he does on a regular basis, and everything seemed normal as the machine said. ‘Please take your card and wait for your cash’. ‘So I waited and waited and then eventually a new message appeared saying; ‘Actually are you sure you can afford this? There’s a direct debit going out on Monday.’ I hit the yes button, then it said it was checking the cash but changed its mind with a new message about the upcoming gas bill.’
One Nat West customer from Warrington got the twenty seventh question wrong and was therefore refused his money. ‘I know the cashpoints have to go through a few questions’ said Gordon Trowler, ‘But asking me the capital of Moldova seems overly cautious. I can’t believe I chose Yerevan over Kishinev, but I’d already used up my 50-50 and phoned a friend.’
Warnings encouraging responsible banking and a prudent financial lifestyle have been placed above the machines by the banks under their new banner of corporate responsibility, but blame for the malfunctioning machines has been firmly placed on an upgrade to the software that controls them. James Hunter of Barclays Capital said; ‘We’ve tried to incorporate an algorithm which measures global confidence to make decisions at even the lowest level.’ This has resulted in such cashpoint messages as ‘I’ll let you have it when I’ve been paid,’ ‘Why don’t we take it off that money you owe for the curry?’ and ‘You’re not having your pocket money till you’ve done some revision.’
‘The money supply is clearly under pressure at the moment due to the global credit crunch’ said Hunter. ‘The responsibility for the global financial crisis lies with a handful of top banking executives who allowed these bad debts to build up, and the thing is, now we need all that cash to pay them their bonuses.’
22nd May 2008