Sunday, September 26, 2010

The one about ATM

Like any other day, our lunch gang started walking from our cubicles towards the cafeteria. At the entrance of the cafeteria, the menus available that day had been put up and also a sample dish for each menu had been placed on a table. Even though my choice remains same - "South Indian Full meals" - everyday, I have made it a habit to skim through the other choices just to know how miserable people's lives were going to be that afternoon. If you didnt already know, my metabolism has developed a disliking for most vegetarian proteins (like dhal, peas, soya chunk) and hence I go for the menu that carries the least veg protein content. That being my criteria, Vinodh has another interesting habit. Merely looking at the sample doesnt give him a satisfactory idea about what is being served; he touches and feels the food to make a choice. Once he made an amazing observation that the potato curry which was part of the south indian meal did not have salt, just by touching it. He could not categorically answer when I asked him if he had taste buds in his fingers since birth or if he had recently developed them. I thought it was an interesting case of evolution. He was becoming the fittest to survive our canteen food.

After each of us made our choice, we stood in the cash counter queue to get the token. Sindu took out a 500 rupee note (a.k.a bill) and gave it to the counter guy. He looked at the note on both sides and said he cant take it because it was a fake note and asked for a different one. Sindu took out another one and he rejected that too. Then Gopi made the payment and got us the tokens.

Sindu wanted me to confirm that it was a fake note. I am someone who cannot make out the difference between a 10 rupee note and a 100 rupee note if not for the extra zero. Anyways, I did not want to lose the chance of pulling her leg and hence took a note from her and observed it closely. Then I observed it at a distance. I did the same on the other side of the note. Then I told her that it was absolutely fake because of two reasons:

One - On the white patch in which you see a water mark image, the picture was that of Ben Kingsley and not actually Mahatma Gandhi
Two - Subba Rao was never a governor of RBI

Gopi who was listening to me while I made the above analysis, took the cue from me and re-confirmed my observation. He also added that Subba Rao was infact a Cricket Umpire. Of course all of the above were made up by us, just to make fun of her...but she thought we were telling the truth and got totally tensed. She said her house owner had given her 25000 in 500 rupee notes and the two that were rejected at the counter were from among the fifty 500 rupee notes that she took from the owner.

After our destinies for the day were served on plate, we assembled at the big table that Ranjani had reserved for us by placing her lunch box on the table as is the custom. Our discussion slowly turned towards ATM machines.

I started telling how different banks used different types of ATM machines and sometimes, the same bank in the same place had two machines that worked differently. In most machines, you insert your card, enter the pin, press enter, choose the type of account, choose the type of transaction, key the amount, confirm it and decide whether you want a receipt or not and then money comes out and then the card. When ATMs were still new to me(some 6 years back), I inserted my card and waited for the machine to prompt the next question. The machine just held the card it its mouth and didnt say a word on the screen. I thought the machine must have had constipation. After waiting for a few minutes, I pulled the card out. Now it asked me "Please enter the PIN". I learnt the concept of "swiping". Well, that's the second type. You just dont insert the card, you swipe it. Then there are ATMs in which you enter the PIN, but on pressing the "enter" button, nothing happens - because, this is a touch screen and so, the "enter" should be pressed in the screen. In some machines, you habitually enter "1000" without looking at the screen and to your dismay the machine shows "10.00". I once tried "1000.50" and machine asked me to enter the amount in multiples of 100. I left a note in the suggestion box saying "Please have your programmer, declare the amount field as an integer instead of float. He is wasting some memory space there".

Some machines, while you eagerly look at the "money slot", expel the card first and then the cash. And while doing that some machines, keep making a warning noise as if to give you a compulsive head ache, until the card is pulled out. In fact, one machine continued to make the noise until I kept the card back in my purse.

But, the reason why I felt ATM machines were nothing but "Atrocious Teller Machines" was because - once - the machine asked me to insert the card, then the pin, then the type of account, then the amount, then asked me to verify it, then it asked me if I wanted a receipt, then it asked me if I had taken break-fast and after doing some fuzzy logic with all the input I gave, declared "This transaction cannot be processed". And another machine would not even accept my card. It kept spitting my card out as if I had fed it with bitter-guard. Then I realized it accepted only Master Card and not VISA.

Now, Gopi remembered an incident when, he got frustrated waiting for the security guard to stop flirting with the group of girls and leave way for him to enter the ATM. So, as soon as they came out, he rushed in and fed the ATM with his card and the machine simply gulped it. When he came out with a shock and explained to the security guard, he told him that the same had happened to the group of girls. Gopi did not ask why the guard did not stop him.

Now Ranjani remembered an occassion when, the ATM after asking the hazaar questions as usual, even made notions of counting the money (the noise that it makes before sending out the cash) and then said that there was no money. She asked why the ATM would want to cheat like that. Gopi clarified that he too thought the noise was made when the ATM counts the cash, but realized that it was not true when he just wanted Rs. 100. The ATM still made the noise to give out just one currency note. It occurred to me that the ATM doesnot probably count what it sends out, rather the balance amount that stays within. Ranjani felt may be it scans through all the notes and finds the oldest and the shabbiest looking note to give out. I said, may be it tries to locate fake notes and sends them out first.

My last point, brought Sindu back to this world, and she asked if even ATM machines could have fake notes. I said on a bad day, even RBI could release fake notes.

Later that week, Sindu went to meet her house owner with the 25000 that she got from her. The house owner is a bank employee and incidentally a lawyer. She confirmed that the notes were not fake.

Anyways, this incident influenced me to learn how to identify fake notes and I stumbled upon this link:
After reading it, I realised that knowing how to identify fake notes is important not only for my own good, but is also a duty as a true citizen. It is important to retain the ATM transaction receipt at least for a week or a month depending on the amount.


Sundar said...

As usual, enjoyed reading your post!

Your 'KAthalAgi Kasinthurigi', 'Bladder full of thoughts' etc are my stress busters these days!

Thanks Bhupesh :o)



Sundar said...

Missed to highlight my favorite in this post,

"In fact, one machine continued to make the noise until I kept the card back in my purse."

Divya Bhaskaran said...

Thank God, Bhupesh, you never dropped a safety pin in the ATM slit when the machine asked you for a pin :-)

It was a delight to read your always..

bhupesh said...

Thanks Sundar and Diya :)

Ityuty said...


Thought provoking blog in a lighter seem to get a nice style in writing...I liked the integer versus float part...

I happened to come across the below article....there are Rs. 12 lakh crore fake money in India now and the route is now Thailand!

ATM said...

ATM physical attacks are passed out with the purpose of access to the money inside the ATM protected. The most general methods include power attack, unstable attacks and cutting the machine etc.