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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

ATM receipts: Cardholders accuse banks of unfair deal

Cover of the week:

Over 60 per cent of approximated 3000 Automated Teller Machines (ATM) currently deployed nationwide cannot print receipts, just as cardholders have accused banks and independent deployers of short-changing them in order to make more saving.

Investigations conducted during the weeklong festive season of Ed-el-Fitri, Christmas and New Year, showed that most ATM cardholders would prefer to have their receipts as evident of transaction concluded.

This was also gathered as being very relevant now that some fraudsters have find a way of getting some Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) of some ignorant cardholders, mostly where the situation of conducting transactions proved difficult.

Champion Infotel checks confirmed that large numbers of ATM cardholders were lamenting their inability to print out their receipts after transactions were presumably concluded.

For some, the printing of these receipts signified that their transaction with any given ATM is successfully concluded or otherwise as they could read from the receipts eventually.

But the inability of most ATMs to print out these receipts after due process of asking and pressing the relevant buttons consistently is an indication that banks and ATM deployers are not alive to their responsibilities.

According to a Lagos-based businessman, Mr. Paul Udoaku, the introduction of ATM is novel, but the inability of the machines at the end of any transaction to print out the relevant receipts is unfortunate.

He pointed out that this excuse of an error in the machines as a result of which the receipt could not be printed did not start today.

He expects the deployers and even the host, most of which are banks to help in monitoring these ATMs to ensure that they are perfectly working.

“Now, I don’t even know if the two trials I made before my transaction was done would mean double withdrawal from my account since the receipt is not there to give me the balance of what I have and what has been withdrawn,” he lamented.

Another ATM cardholder and a student, Ms Bunmi Olaboye, said that it’s criminal and suggested that the deployers tend to save money, while leaving customers on their own.

As said by her, the management of those ATMs that could not print receipts for over one month, no doubt are aiding fraudulent activities, because they keep their customers in the dark, which could leave some customers like students thinking that they even still have money in their accounts.

Reacting to this development, Managing Director of an independent ATM deployer, ATM Consortium (ATMC), Mr. Noble Ekajeh, said that this act definitely could not be deliberate but blamed it on lack of manpower to monitor and attend to the growing needs of cardholders in the country.

He noted that the basic challenge facing deployers of ATM currently is in terms of getting the machines operational 24 hours by seven days in a week.

He attributed the lack of printing receipts as at when and where due of some ATMs to increase in demand, stressing that maybe in the new year, deployers have to increase their level of supervision of the monitoring team to ensure that such issues as lack of receipts would be ameliorated.

“I know that the only major challenge is an operational ATM, thus receipts run out shortly than expected,” he opined.

He explained that it could even be lack of the ink for the ATM to print receipts that is causing this hiccup; hence they needed to be replenished more frequently than before.

“ATM usage has increased and the receipt paper seems to have finished more quickly than was expected, so operators have to monitor it more closely,” he declared.

Mr. Ekajeh emphasised that in the list of priorities for ATM deployment, receipts counts as secondary, just as the first on the list is the availability of workable ATM with cash.

Other challenges, he noted are power downtime, the receipt paper is down or run out and people could not cash money.

“… If you have a large network, your are bound to have a large challenge to face but the priorities must be set right,” Mr. Ekajeh said, maintaining that the usage of ATM in the country is astronomical, even as he advocated that monitoring periods have to be made shorter to overcome some of these minor challenges.

“When there are lots of issues, the first thing that comes to mind is to make the machines workable with the dynamics of keeping the system going,” he asserted.

He expressed optimism that in the New Year that Nigerians should expect more mature ATM network with less teething challenges, even as he expects more rapid expansion in the ATM service industry.

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