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Pressure exposes strengths and weaknesses. Remember when you realized that, as a service company, maybe you didn't have enough quality techs to do all the ADA installs needed? Remember waiting and waiting and waiting for a customer to decide what to do, then once the decision was made, being expected to complete multiple upgrades in a matter of days — when you needed weeks?

Along with these pressure points, there was this one: decrepit ATMs. ADA forced operators to take a really good look at their fleets of ATMs. And what they found was that there were a whole lot of old, nasty, dirty, out-of-date units that really needed to be replaced.

ATMs are like tellers and should look just as professional

How many times have you gone into a branch and found tellers who looked and smelled like they hadn't bathed in days and moved slower than molasses in January?

I would imagine that most if not all of you reading this have never had a branch experience quite like that. Financial institutions (and, for that matter, all quality businesses) want their representatives to make customers feel welcome and comfortable, and to perform services and transactions quickly.

As fleet operators looked closely at their installed ATMs in order to decide whether to upgrade or replace machines, what they saw over and over again were ATMs (i.e., tellers) that were way overdue for a makeover or in need of complete replacement. I know I saw machine after machine with a filthy keyboard, cracks in the fascia and lighting that was discolored. And some just outright smelled bad. ADA prompted people to do something about these machines — which was great for everyone.

ATMs are like tellers and should perform just as efficiently

How many times have you gone into a branch and found a sign on a teller that said "Out of Service"? Have you ever encountered a teller who said, "Good morning, but you can't get any of your cash today?"

I would imagine these are also experiences that none of us have had, or else we'd be making fast changes in we kept our money. Of course there are times when ATMs need repair or maintenance, but many of the ATMs we saw during ADA upgrades were in terrible condition. One customer in Arkansas replaced a machine that hadn't been working for three months — yes, three months! We saw units that were more than 20 years old, with technology so outdated that we couldn't throw away some of the internal boards because they contained toxic materials.

ATMs were due for an update to the 21st century

In addition to being ADA compliant, the technology we now have is pretty cool. Intelligent deposit is one new features that I haven't had one person complain about using. Windows based software platforms allow for the kind of common USB and open-technology software services that we see in most electronics. CRTs are a thing of the past (but pre-ADA were still in use all over the place). Now we see LCD and newer LED screens and that's great for all of us — especially when an ATM is facing the sun!

None of this was without cost, so it's commendable that so many operators went to the time and expense to find the best fit for their needs. Fortunately, there are many quality brands of new ATM models, as well as refurbished units and even onsite ATM fascia refurb options to choose from. Whatever has been done or is still being decided, thank goodness those ugly, out-of-date units are gone!

pictures courtesy of American Banking Equipment

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Corey King
Corey King works with American Bank Equipment "supporting companies that have boots on the ground." He has extensive experience working with and for ATM sales and service organizations and writes from a parts, machine, compliance and upgrade perspective.
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