Be very careful when you put your bank cards in a Standard Bank ATM. There is a know flaw with their ATM network.
What a painful day.
So on Wednesday night I go to get some cash from the Standard Bank ATM in Camps Bay. It gives me my cash, but it keeps my card and prints out some lame slip saying my card was retained because of a technical problem. Error code: 0231 *ARgghh!!* The ATM goes into “broken” mode, with a red screen… which is kinda warped.
No phone number on the ATM.
The next day I attempt to figure out which branch is responsible for that ATM.. I try the branch locator on their website.. it’s broken so I attempt to phone the Standard Bank call centre.. useless as expected, but happy to put me through to the “Camps Bay branch”.. which is a dead end. Later I discover there is no such thing as the Camps Bay branch. Muppets.
Friday, I drive back to the ATM and start talking to the people in the shops next to the ATM. The travel agent and jeweller both seem pretty annoyed with this ATM. They tell me it’s been swallowing cards for a long time, at a rate of 4+ cards per day. Often these are cards of tourists.. even more painful than my experience.
Turns out the jeweller had phoned the people who administer the ATM earlier that day.. three guys show up. Two with bullet proof jackets and guns. I ask if my card is in the ATM. They tell me they can’t give me my card.. fine, but it would be nice to know if my card is there. Nope. OK, what now? Hmm.. not sure.
These guys were _no_ help.. they must be ex-Zim CIA.
Once a day they probably get to the ATM, see the red screen and happily reset it to the standard operating mode without wondering why the screen is always RED!! when they get there. Muppets.
The jeweller figures the closest branch is in Sea Point and they probably take the cards there.
I stand in the queue for a while, get to the front, explain the whole thing and get told my card has been destroyed.. *ARRGGHHH!!*
Sense of humour failure.
OK.. so how do we deal with a business which has obvious flaws but a million monkeys happy to follow the process of least resistance? Well, share the pain and discomfort.. waste the time of somebody with a bit of influence.. somebody who’s time is of equal or more value than my time. Simple economics.
I go see the bank manager and start asking a few questions about their ATM network.
She tells me it’s an “IT problem”.. IT knows about the problem, it affects all their ATMs but the IT department does not want to commit to a timeline for fixing the problem… this is getting entertaining. The card swallowing is happening often. Their “workaround” for the problem seems to be to wait a day before they destroy the cards.
I tell my story. She agrees their call centre is useless and their ATM staff are not helpful. I found that kind of honesty refreshing.. but somehow depressing.. she must hear stories like this very often.
Skipping ahead, she was very helpful.. ordered a new card, gave me her contact details, gave me a temporary debit card, kept the branch open to let me get some cash.
Now, I have to wait 5 working days to get the new card and I have to reset my online banking profile… so I can’t use online banking at the moment.
What a gigantic waste of time. Two hours of pain.. and more to come.
Let’s just zoom out here for a second and think about what the functions of an ATM, a call centre and online banking are… uuuhhmmm, automatic teller.. I guess it keeps customers away from the branch and allows them to help themselves. Same goes for online banking and kinda true for call centres.
These are the barriers, the primary lines of defence.. they keep customers from wanting to strangle bank employees. These functions are the true white collars of the modern banking world, they keep the whole thing civil.
Ok, not call centres.. all call centres are doomed.
Now you begin to see what an EPIC FAILURE this is.. some greasy IT brat is not fixing the problem, not taking responsibility and not seeing the effects.. but poisoning an entire ecosystem by crippling the things that make the experience of modern banking almost bearable.
You have been warned.