Why Are ATM Machines So Stupid?

It's the Money That Matters

I just put my ATM card into a Bank of America ATM machine. The first screen that came up was a screen asking me what language I’d like to enjoy my transaction in.

Ok, #1. Why should the ATM machine be asking me this question? How come every single time I do an ATM transaction every ATM machine asks me what language I want? I want English. Why can’t I set English as my default and never have an ATM ask me this question again? Why can’t the ATM machine be smart enough to know that if I picked English the last time I used it, I probably haven’t changed my default desired language for my transaction? I get my bank statement in English. Do they really think that I might like my statement in English but my ATM transactions in Spanish or Chinese?

#2. Why does Bank of America ask me to confirm my language choice? WTF? Why do I have to tell them twice that I want to have my transaction in English? It’s bad enough I have to be asked this question once. Do they really need my special confirmation? Are people so stupid that they get this question wrong enough on the first go around that confirmation is really necessary?

#3 Why does the Bank of America ATM machine present me with a choice of withdrawl amounts which never includes the amount that I want to withdraw? Every single time I go to the ATM machine I withdraw the exact same amount of money, $500. Why do I get presented with a choice of $20, $40, $80, $100 when I’ve never ever ever selected those amounts? Why can’t the machine be smart enough to look at my past activity and present me a button for $500 rather than make me slect another button and manually enter in this amount?

#4 Why does the Bank of America ATM machine ask me from what account I’d like to withdraw the money, savings, checking or credit? My ATM card is not a savings account ATM card, it’s not a credit card. It’s a checking ATM card. How is it that the ATM machine can’t be smart enough to determine that my ATM card is a checking account ATM card and just automatically use that without my having to tell it so?

#5 Why does the Bank of America ATM machine ask me if I want a receipt? I always select no. I don’t want a receipt. I never want a receipt. Receipts kill trees. Why not let me sign up for no receipts on my ATM transactions ever? I didn’t want a receipt last time I was there. Or the time before that. Or the 10 times before that. Or the 100 times before that. Why do I need to be asked over and over and over again if I want one now?

#6 Why does the Bank of America ATM machine ask me if I want to do another transaction? I have never ever wanted to do another transaction. Not only is it dumb to make me say no, but this also represents a security risk. What if I get my money and walk away without paying attention. Now somebody else can come press “yes” and withdraw some more money or something. If I want to do another transaction I’ll put my card back in the machine a second time and do another transaction.

I’d be willing to bet that at least 90% of the time people answer no to this question. So why make the 90% of us who also say “no” suffer for the 10% of people that might say yes?

That’s all, ATM rant over, oh wait one more thing.

Why am I paying Bank of America $2 for using their ATM machine? And if I’m not paying Bank of America $2 I’m probably paying someone else $2. $2 is highway robbery. It’s too much to pay — especially to a machine that’s as dumb as BofA’s ATM machine is. And why do I have to reconfirm my willingness to pay them $2 *every single time* I use their machine?

Here’s how an ATM machine ought to work.

1. Insert card.
2. Enter PIN.
3. Select Withdrawl
4. Push a button reflecting the amount that you’d like to withdraw with your last withdrawn amount being one of the choices.
5. Out comes your money.

Done.

At least my iPhone, MacBook Pro, PC, XBox 360, Canon 5D, etc. etc. don’t ask me if I want to use them in Spanish every single time I turn them on.

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63 Comments

  1. barrettmanor says:

    Sadly, ATM technology hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. They’ll figure out a smart ATM once they figure out how to monetize it.

  2. I applied a solution to this problem a few years ago:

    I just don’t use cash. No ATM trips. Done. 🙂

  3. ceeelcee says:

    Dude, you get $500 from the ATM? I hope you have a bodyguard. I get nervous withdrawing a hunnert.

  4. JeffH says:

    I’ve been a BofA customer my entire life. I was part of the pilot group who tested the ATM machines before they were rolled out for general use in the late 70’s. My observation is that the UI and probably much of the underlying technology of the ATM machine has not changed much in the past 30 years. I have observed many of the same idiosyncrasies as you have with these machines. I’m not sure why you are paying to use the ATM machines if you also have a checking account with the bank. I have never paid a fee to use BofA’s ATM machines.
    I have a couple of additional gripes.
    1) All of the BofA ATM machines used to be identical. In the past several years, they have replaced some of their ATM’s with new machines. There appears to be at least two if not more different brands of the new machines. Each has a slightly different UI. This is confusing.
    2) I actually want a receipt for a couple of reasons. One, to remember to record the transaction in my check book, and Two, I don’t trust the bank and want a hard copy receipt in case they screw up. The old machines use a receipt that is exactly the same size as money, so it is easy to slip in your wallet. I’ve noticed the new machines have varying sized receipts. Some are gigantic about 1 1/2 times as tall as money, making it hard to put in your wallet without folding it. Some have cash register type receipts, while not as wide as money, vary in length from really short to longer than money. Again annoying. Come on BofA! Don’t you bother to ask your customers what services they want? Or do you just blindly serve up 30 year old technology? I must say that BofA’s on line banking, while not cutting edge, has a much better UI than their aging ATM machines.

  5. Allen says:

    I assume you are not a BoA customer because I think you can set that kind of stuff as a BoA customer. When I go to the bank I put in the card, put in my pin, and before pressing enter I press the “fastcash” amount i pre set on the touchscreen and it dispenses the cash and the card and no receipt. Just that quick.

  6. rob says:

    @Allen – I will confirm that. Language Settings were my pet peeve as well until one day in Boston the BofA ATM let me set my default language.

  7. dOS says:

    What would happen if you where in China, and you need some cash and the only language available is Chinese on the ATM machine? At least your iPhone is in English right?? I think that you are not aware all the people from different parts of the world that are in the States, that is why is multi lingual.

    ATM are Universal, that is why the touch pad is in braille and some support tty.

    Cheers

  8. Thomas Hawk says:

    I just don’t use cash. No ATM trips. Done. 🙂

    I’m not sure how you do this Don. I try to use cash as little as possible as well but still lots of places don’t take credit/debit cards. I think I’d rather put up with bad ATM technology than miss out on Zachrey’s Pizza since they are a cash only business. 😉

    The babysitters for the kids prefer cash over checks as well. That’s where a lot of it goes actually.

    Dude, you get $500 from the ATM? I hope you have a bodyguard.

    My previous point. Babysitters. My wife and I try to go out at least twice a week and this adds up.

    I could get by on less, but the way that I look at it, if you take out $20 every time that’s a 10% tax on your transactions. $40 is a 5% tax on your transactions. $100 is a 2% tax on your transactions, etc. By withdrawing $500 you lower the cost of ATM transactions. I’ve never been mugged in my life and have only been pickpocketed once.

    My observation is that the UI and probably much of the underlying technology of the ATM machine has not changed much in the past 30 years.

    Jeff, you are probably right. This is probably part of the problem. I guess they simply have no incentive really to innovate — which is sad.

    I assume you are not a BoA customer because I think you can set that kind of stuff as a BoA customer.

    Allen, I’m not a BofA customer. But I don’t see why this information can’t be contained in that little magnetic strip on your ATM card and shared between banks. If it can’t, at least BofA ought to be able to remember my preferences from the last time I visited their lovely ATM machine.

  9. Thomas Hawk says:

    What would happen if you where in China, and you need some cash and the only language available is Chinese on the ATM machine?

    dos, I think that if you live in China and speak Chineses and are visiting the US that the ATM ought to be smart enough to automatically present you a Chinese screen.

    I think if you live in the US and speak English and are in China same thing — your screen still ought to be in English.

    ATM technology ought to be smart enough though to know that whatever the language your bank statement is in probably ought to be the default language for your ATM useage no matter where you are in the world.

  10. Danny Taft says:

    Not sure if this is rolled out nationwide yet, but I ran into a Chase ATM a while ago that let me tweak every setting that you just mentioned, despite the fact that I was a BofA member, not a Chase member. It remembered it every time I was there though, so it must not be something the use for customers only.

    Like allen said, as a BofA customer, this is one of the things that keeps me in their ranks. I love that the ATM knows what I want.

    sidebar… my pet peeve is people who refer to them as “ATM (automated teller machine) machines”

  11. Anonymous says:

    1) If you don’t like ATM’s don’t use them
    2) If you don’t like the fee structure, don’t use them.
    3) Talk to your bank manager to vent your complains, I’m sure you’re not the only one. Blogs are not the answer to everything 😉
    Just my $0.02 🙂

  12. Anonymous says:

    Zachary’s has taken credit cards since at least October ’07! (at least on College Ave)

    I am a Bank of America customer and get ATM withdrawals for free from BoA ATMs! Not sure what plan you’re on, but you should check out other plans that offer it!

  13. Aaron says:

    Ex-BoA customer here.

    Two very unrelated comments to make on this subject:

    1) These are the most trivial examples of personalization (or lack thereof), which on the web was made popular almost a decade ago and is now standard everywhere. BoA sucks.

    2) Are you a BoA customer? If so, leave BoA! I left last year and joined Schwab Investor Checking. I guess I got a little tired of:

    a) ATM fees: with non-BoA ATM’s I’d get charged once by the other bank and then again by BoA, totaling something like $4. I think it’s unacceptable that BoA charges their own customers for this. Schwab refunds unlimited ATM fees from other banks and does not add any of their own charges.

    b) Interest rate: BoA is ridiculously low or checking accounts.

    c) Monthly fees: In trying to keep the majority of my money in high-interest ING savings account, I would drop below the minimum and get socked with a $16/month fee. Seriously, $16? Did I mention Schwab is free with no minimum?

    There are a lot of other banks out there that kick the cr@p out of BoA. I just can’t believe they still have so many customers.

  14. Thomas Hawk says:

    Zachary’s has taken credit cards since at least October ’07! (at least on College Ave)

    hmmmm.. I was not aware of this. They used to be a cash only business. Maybe I’ll try to order a pizza from them with a credit card this weekend. All in the interest of testing this out of course 😉

    They do make the best pizza in the Bay Area.

    1) If you don’t like ATM’s don’t use them
    2) If you don’t like the fee structure, don’t use them.
    3) Talk to your bank manager to vent your complains, I’m sure you’re not the only one. Blogs are not the answer to everything 😉
    Just my $0.02 🙂

    Sometimes I need cash though and have to use them as there is no other way for me to get cash out of my bank. My bank is a cashless bank so I have to use other ATMs. It’s complicated to describe all the reasons why but I’m not really in a position to switch banks.

  15. Can’t say Wells is hugely better, but at least they let you set a default transaction… amount, account… and it pops up as the top choice on the menu.

  16. Just confirming allen’s and rob’s comments — though, I still have to say no to a receipt, the rest of the steps are quite quick. In fact, the ATM’s here are now envelope-less. You just slip in a wad of cash (up to 40 bills at a time) or individual checks, the system scans, and you’re money is deposited. ATM’s are growing up in Chicago.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Can’t say Wells is hugely better??

    The Wells Fargo ATM machine where I work lets me set EXACTLY what I want so that I have it preset everytime I go to the machine! Language, transaction amount, even whether or not i want a receipt is already KNOWN!! All of these dimensions directly address what this article is written about.

    The WF ATM, KNOWS ME as a customer, and knows what my prefrences are… i love it.

  18. Stephen Rahn says:

    All of this is good, but even more annoying are people to refer to them as ATM machines.

    Good work, Danny!

  19. TranceMist says:

    The larger question is:

    “Why is my bank so stupid?”
    (and greedy…)

  20. GeorgiaDawg says:

    How bad does it annoy you?

    Become a customer and your problem is solved.
    – Remembers your language preference
    – Remembers your typical withdrawal amount
    – Allows you to deposit cash or check without an envelope
    – Prints an image of deposited checks on your receipt
    – Doesn’t charge for using BofA ATM’s (largest ATM network out there)

    ATM’s in general might be clunky – but if you’re a BofA customer using a BofA machine, you would be quite impressed with how advanced their technology is.

    Sorry I couldn’t jump on the big bad bank bandwagon – not an employee – but you’re off the mark for picking on BofA.

  21. Carl says:

    Here’s another one to add to your list:
    At the ATMs I visited in Europe, either you swiped the card so you never took your hands off it, or you were forced to withdraw your card to get your money.

    This seems like it would almost completely eliminate lost cards at the ATM. I’d rather lose $20 than my card, but then again, I never withdraw as much as Thomas does.

  22. Thomas Hawk says:

    Here’s another one to add to your list:
    At the ATMs I visited in Europe, either you swiped the card so you never took your hands off it, or you were forced to withdraw your card to get your money.

    Carl, this is a great point. I like this feature a lot. Interestingly enough the ATM that I used today(in the Ferry Building) had the swipe feature. But another BofA ATM that I used the time before last (in Embarcadero 4) did not. Ironically, for the first time in my life ever, I left my card in the Embarcadero 4 ATM. I’m not sure why it happened and it had never happened before but it did.

    Fortunately for me I got a call at my office (no idea how he tracked me down) from a lawyer in Embarcadero 4 who had my card and I was able to go get it back from him.

    I’m sure that this happens to other people though and is a good technology for all ATMs to implement.

    I think I’m going to boycott BofA ATMs for a while though. I think I’m only going to use non BofA ATMs and see if others are better. Maybe I’ll do a post comparing all of the various ATM machines.

    My wife does have a BofA account and uses their ATM machines regularly. She also is a former BofA employee. She may have a different experience than I do. I’ll have to look into that as well.

    I still think that for the $2 per transaction that I pay them as a non customer, BofA should be able to tell that I speak English and set my default withdrawl amount as an option.

  23. Thanks for that blog. I enjoyed it and agree with you.

  24. Andrew says:

    I really don’t know why you are paying $2 to withdraw cash from your own checking account.

    There are a plethora of “free” checking accounts around. I use one from Washington Mutual. My account includes free use of WaMu ATM’s nationwide. I have not paid an ATM transaction fee in several years.

    You should take a few minutes to shop the different banks. I’m sure you’ll find a way to save on fees.

  25. Arturo says:

    I’ve seen worse, Banamex(Mexican Bank) can’t read cards properly and I have to pass my card over and over. At least I don’t pay each time I do a transactioon at an ATM of my OWN bank. I’m never asked for language choice. but receipts, another transaction and dumb amounts of money are always there.

  26. As a BofA customer, I’ve never had to set any of that stuff since I did it long ago. The way I see it, if BofA only wants to track and remember those settings for BofA customers as a value added service, then that’s up to them and they have the right to do that.

    Furthermore, as a BofA customer, I don’t get charged anything using any of the 15000+ BofA ATM machines nationwide. It’s a benefit of being their customer. You probably don’t get charged at your own bank’s ATM, and I would. Why shouldn’t one bank charge another bank’s customers for using their network of ATM’s? This seems perfectly ok to me.

    As for asking you the account type, that’s not how cards work. A card can be linked to your checking, savings and credit accounts. Since you’re not on their network (not a BofA customer) they don’t know which account you’d like money out of. They ask because they have to send the account type in the transaction request. As a BofA customer, I’ll only be presented with the accounts that are linked to my card, which for me is savings and checking. I frequently make withdraws and deposits to both.

    If I make a deposit, I like a receipt until the transaction posts. Period.

    As for the machine learning your transaction amounts, that could be done. A general receipt setting would be ok, too – yes, no, ask me.

    It’s just not that big of a deal. It seems most of your complaints have to deal with the fact that you’re not a BofA customer, so you’re not benefitting from bonus treatment they extend only to their customers.

  27. Aaron says:

    “You probably don’t get charged at your own bank’s ATM, and I would. Why shouldn’t one bank charge another bank’s customers for using their network of ATM’s? This seems perfectly ok to me.”

    Sure, makes sense. But where the logic starts to fall apart is when BoA charges its *own* customers for using other banks’ ATMs. So they get charged twice. What exactly is that BoA charge for?

  28. evana says:

    Hilarious! They just don’t give a shit. B of A’s bill pay is equally retarded. Doesn’t make any sense and is impossible to navigate.

    B of A ATM machine’s also give your cash back before giving you your card. I left probably 30 cards in their ARM machines. They also still have black and white screens where the buttons don’t quite line up with the writing on the screen.

  29. omars says:

    Wells Fargo ATMs have none of these problems. They remember everything you do and offer them as presets when you come back.

    http://murarka.com/2007/09/30/wells-fargos-new-atm/

    it also scans cash and checks.

  30. Mark says:

    The reason it can’t remember your settings? It doesn’t communicate a server unless there is a transaction about to take place.

    If you enter your pin wrong, you are still allowed to “attempt” to withdraw cash, but when you select the amount, it will tell you that your pin is wrong.

    This is for security reasons, the ATM will send the encrypted information in one packet: your account, your pin, and the amount to withdraw.

    But I do agree, ATMs are stupid.

  31. Hillwaaa says:

    What you’ve asked for is something that I’ve started seeing in Australian ATM’s. Namely:

    1) Enter Card
    2) Enter Pin
    3) Hit the “Use favourite Withdrawl” button
    4) Out comes the cash

    Perfect. I tend to use the machines that I can remember that have this function as it is so much easier. I think I had to setup my favourite options at one point, but that was it.

  32. Anonymous says:

    They probably run on windows, this would explain everything.

  33. dOS says:

    i would really like some thomas hawk that reflects his feeling of atms would be great

  34. dOS says:

    forgot to add the word photo

  35. Anonymous says:

    Not only is it dumb to make me say no, but this also represents a security risk. What if I get my money and walk away without paying attention.
    Presumably you’ll realize pretty quickly you just walked away without your ATM card and run back — since the only way you can get your card back from the machine is to answer “No” when the ATM asks if you want another transaction.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I’m a BoA customer now living abroad – you can set all these preferences on the BoA ATM machines – it’s been possible for years.

    On the question about Chinese ATM’s – they are all made by NCR or Diebold etc out there. There’re two types of ATMS – ones that are linked to master/visa (will have a logo/sticker on them) and ones that aren’t. As a foreigner, you can only withdraw from your account if the ATM is linked to master/visa and all the ATMs that are have english language screens so you won’t have a problem.

  37. Jakob says:

    What your talking about is a national database of all your information, including your previous withdrawals, the amount of momey currently in your name, and hell, Ill even take this route- your nationality.. All stored on a public machine that hundreds of other people have access to on a daily basis. Any machine with a user input device (can/will/already has) be hacked. It would leave yourself more open to identity theft, and on a bigger note the government will have deeper control over the masses through their knowledge of your spending records, current budget and whatever else you can think of. These dumb bots may cause you a few extra painstaking presses of a few buttons- but at least your identity is secure and big brother is at least a few more year away..

  38. Anonymous says:

    Banks don’t want people to withdraw 500 bucks at a time. With fees they’d rather nickel and dime you to death. But it’s also dangerous and they’d rather not have customers mugged.

    Honestly, if you’re withdrawing 500 bucks out and still having to go often you’ve pretty well off. Many mortals can’t do that.

    My advice to you is to hire a body guard to go to the atm for you. You won’t be frustrated and you can certainly afford it.

  39. Thomas Hawk says:

    Presumably you’ll realize pretty quickly you just walked away without your ATM card and run back — since the only way you can get your card back from the machine is to answer “No” when the ATM asks if you want another transaction.

    Ironically, the only time I’ve ever left my ATM card in a machine was in one that required me to push no for additional transactions. For some reason I missed that and my card.

    Banks don’t want people to withdraw 500 bucks at a time. With fees they’d rather nickel and dime you to death. But it’s also dangerous and they’d rather not have customers mugged.

    I’m not going to get mugged in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people in the Ferry Building where I mostly use the ATM during the day. But really it’s not the bank’s role to be looking out for my security. I could just as easily be mugged for $20 as I could for $500.

    Any machine with a user input device (can/will/already has) be hacked. It would leave yourself more open to identity theft,

    I’d take this risk.

    Sure, makes sense. But where the logic starts to fall apart is when BoA charges its *own* customers for using other banks’ ATMs. So they get charged twice. What exactly is that BoA charge for

    Now *that* is especially evil.

    There are a plethora of “free” checking accounts around. I use one from Washington Mutual. My account includes free use of WaMu ATM’s nationwide. I have not paid an ATM transaction fee in several years.

    Just for argument sake. Let’s say I put whatever the minimum amount for a free checking account is in a bank. Let’s say it was $1,000 minimum balance for a free checking account. Now over the course of a year I’d probably get zero interest on this account. Had the same $1,000 been in an Asset Management account somewhere tied to a money market fund I might have earned 4% or $40 on my thousand or the equivalent to 20 ATM transactions per year. Plus I’m sure my account would go below $1,000 every so often where I’d get hit with all kinds of nickel and dime fees. No thanks.

  40. craniac says:

    Some commenters have suggested that this is a question of ATM technology not changing for years. This has nothing to do with it, as shown here.

  41. sudeep4uall says:

    Guys,
    Guess what..we Indians are far ahead of u in ATM tech which work in the 4 steps mentioned above ( and that too on a touch screen interface :
    1. Enter card
    2. Key in Pin
    3. Enter amount
    4. Withdraw amount

    Cheers

  42. Etienne S. says:

    Just my 2 cents, in Europe and in Asia (well, Germany, France, Belgium and Malaysia for sure), when at an ATM, you have to take your card back before you get the money, that’s a safety measure to not forget the card.
    I do remember though that in US, it is not the case everywhere… So why the hell, it is not the same? There is not that many ATM manufacturers in the world, couple of them

  43. ToAsTy! says:

    Well the old school looking monochrome BofA ATM’s are on OS/2 platform, i hear. There was a period where it was updated to a more modern operating system but it was getting hacked. It had color images and screens.
    There is a new OS out but only in certain locations. The one i found has a check reader that automatically reads the check on the spot and deposits the amount, it also prints out a photo copy of the check on your reciept (if you wanted one). kinda neat.

  44. Anonymous says:

    #3 – Because it’s not a standard amount. And that’s not typical user behaviour. Yes, there should be more AI in ATMs. It’s not there. Enter the 5 numbers (assuming you need to enter 500.00). Are you really so important that you don’t have time to do this?

    #4 – Many people have many uses for their cards. I have 3 accounts on mine. If it assumed what I wanted every time, that would be annoying. Again, yes there should be some AI, but there’s very little market for that.

    #6 – If you’re stupid enough to walk away from your bank machine without finishing the transaction, then you deserve to have your money stolen. That’s not a security risk. That’s an ignorant society risk. And are you the only user? I don’t understand – I use my bank to transfer money, make deposits, make withdrawals… many things that I won’t do at the teller anymore because it’s faster at an ATM.

    A way to combat this would be to have your card be a ‘fast card’ or something so that it only performs a limited amount of functions. Then the rest of the users who use their bank card for more than just withdrawing $500, aren’t inconvenienced.

    Anyways, I know it was a rant and none of that was really written with much of a rational mind, but you sound awfully self-righteous (you’re not the only user out there you know, and from the sounds of it, you don’t seem like a very typical user). I agree with the other points. Banks charge too much for withdrawing… except ING. But in general, they charge too much. And why? Because they can.

  45. Thomas Hawk says:

    Anyways, I know it was a rant and none of that was really written with much of a rational mind, but you sound awfully self-righteous (you’re not the only user out there you know, and from the sounds of it, you don’t seem like a very typical user).

    Anonymous, my point is not that my preferences should be the default for everyone. My point is that ATMs are stupid and that if they were smarter they would be able to remember *everyone’s* preferences not just mine.

    Maybe I withdraw $500 typically and you withdraw $60 typically. Either way the ATM should be smart enough to know this based on past behavior and give each of us our own customized experience.

  46. Insane Ninja says:

    The issue is.. the ATM only talks to your records once, maybe twice, as they are probably using 14.4 speeds.

    It does not talk to your account until after you’ve entered your pin, so there is no way to know your preferences.

    As for the fee.. some banks actually will pay your withdrawl fees, isnt washington mutual one of them?

  47. There’s a cascade of engineering reasons why it’s that way that, when combined with the fact that you are going to take out $500 and pay the $2 service fee and any amount of inconvenience save a mechanized body cavity search probably won’t stop this from happening, means that it’s probably not going to change very much.

    ATMs are built under the assumption that you have either a low-bandwidth leased line of some sort (as in, back in the days of 1200 baud modems). And where there would be a redundant set of leased lines between mainframes to make inter-bank linkages work.

    Adding any discretionary data to that communications format means that they’d have to test it on every model of ATMs and then add support to the inter-ATM market while making sure that the switch happens properly and stuff.

    Storing it on the card? There are only two information tracks on an ATM card and no room for any extra data. There’s a spare track that nobody uses… so either using it or changing the format of the card would break anything. Besides, the technological suppliers to the banking industry really intend for smartcards with an embedded chip in them to hold the cool information… whenever they can foist it off on the American banking industry.

    Giving the ATM machine the ability to write to the track is never going to happen. If it ever developed a fault, it would be disaster. With read-only-ATM machines, if Bob’s Bank And Orange Smoothie screws up, the worst that happens is that my bank will complain loud enough that the inter-ATM network will have a nice chat with BB&OS.; I can still go to a BofA ATM or any other system and get my cash out from a good machine.

    But if the BB&OS; could zap my card, I’m probably going to be ticked off at my bank, not BB&OS.;

    Do remember that an ATM machine has two independent cash dispensing “chains”. One system tells the ATM safe to dispense $500, the other system logs how many $20s were handed out so if you accidentally got $520 or $480 the balances would eventually work themselves out.

    If you tried to use track 3 on the card, which is pretty much unused, if you wanted to make it work outside of one individual banking system, you’d have to get everybody to agree on a format if you wanted to do it outside of a single bank.

    And with a single bank, it’s probably simpler to just add that to the protocol between the ATM and the bank office because you have a smaller number of ATM models and probably a single ATM payment processor to test and change.

    So, besides the aforementioned anything-but-the-bum-bob mentioned at the beginning, the business reasoning is probably tending towards not sharing any sort of advanced functionality because it’s something to drive you to use the bank’s local ATMs.

    In the end, there’s nobody like Steve Jobs who can sit the ATM folks down and point out how much LIFE is being waisted by an extra 30 seconds at the ATM. Multiply that by the average number of ATM trips / year and the average number of ATM-using people and you start having whole lifetimes wasted each and every year.

  48. Aidan says:

    Thomas: I agree with everything you said and I share your frustration when technology is dumbed down and information architecture sucks. And not to torpedo your rant, but just stop for a sec and consider that tens of thousands of people around the world (mostly children) are going to die today because they don’t have access to clean drinking water. Are a few extra button pushes really that much of an inconvenience? Just a tiny bit of perspective.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I agree that many companies should let you set preferences but do not. I would think it would save time and wear on their atm’s as well. I feel the same way about the pone account access. once I have identified myself with account number and pin why not default to giving me info on the same account i check on all then time

    One note on free checking accounts. Most no longer require a minimum balance. Many may have other restrictions when compared with accounts requiring a min. balance( charge for returned checks, or fees for going over a certain number of person to person phone calls) but I find the tradeoff is usually worth it. Most of the expected bells and whistles are free though.

    quazi

  50. Anonymous says:

    Well actually the topic may refer to the ATMs in US, not in TURKEY.
    On the other hand, your issuer may personalize your card (mag stripe data) with a flag indicates your language choice ( issuer disc. data may contains these kind of choices) And ATM can look up that flag displays the screen in your prefence setting.

  51. After checking with my bank I found out Chase’s ATM machines have options so you can set your default language, set amount to withdrawal and if you want a receipt. All of it can be set online. hanks for your blob without it I would have never checked and never found out it is possible.

  52. I should really proof read before I post 🙁

  53. Ummm… I understand your frustration and concern, but why be so upset and annoyed by an atm? U ask why doesn’t it use english as default? How selfish. You know… Americans come in all eithnicities and speak many languages. (Just in case you had not gotten the memo.) And lastly, atms are not human, they want to cross all of the t’s and dot all i’s to make your experience helpful and precise. So the small amount of time that it takes to do these things is not going to kill you. 🙂

  54. Anonymous says:

    If even this makes you list of problems in life worth blogging about you have it made sir! LoL

    BoA ATMs will practically shake your hand if you’re a customer. ATMs are evolving by leaps and bounds but I guess people might not notice.

    I do think this is something that could be standardized for all ATM cards however; the cards should have a basic preference like language prefference in repsect for the customer.

    ~ James G

  55. Anonymous says:

    dude ur fucking exaggerating -_-

  56. Annoyed says:

    I feel your pain! I was one of the stupid people who walked away leaving my card for someone else to not only take out my daily amount but also take the card and spend in the shops. In the UK you get your card back before your transaction and receipt. Now my bank are refusing to pay my insurance on the card – I’m now feel dumb and poor!

  57. Annoyed says:

    And dumber for the fast typing and spelling mistakes in the last post 🙁

  58. Steve says:

    The ATM at B of A and other banks is flawed technology. I have to deposit checks that are scanned. At least 25% of the check amounts can’t be read by the OCR. Then I have to zoom in and hope I can find the amount since the screen is not high resolution. The old ATM machine worked better- no scanning. Just put the checks into an envelope total the amount and deposit the entire envelope.It actually worked.

    I wonder if a B of A executive got a bonus for dreaming up this new and “better” ATM. Perhaps, when bank executives are actually paid for performance including customer satisfaction this ATM mess will be behind us.

    When I spoke to bank employees they continued to extol the machines even while watching me struggle to deposit my checks. They may be loyal but I reckon there is a lot of rice puddin between the ears.

  59. EATIT says:

    what a whiner

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  61. Bill says:

    Why would any thinking person use Bank of America a large corporate monster that defrauded homeowners with speculation! Find a nice small hometown bank or credit union and stop supporting crooks!