The top 5 things we learned from ADA: ATMs are not toasters.

Oct. 25, 2012 | by Corey King

On its surface, ADA was presented in such a way as to make you think you could just install a cheap audio jack, slap on some Braille keyboard stickers, turn some screws to adjust machine height — and compliance would be complete.

But pretty quickly, the reality of ADA compliance became clear to all: ATMs are NOT "toasters" and it takes a skilled professional to correctly prepare, configure and set up a machine to make itwork — and to stand behind the work once the ATM is up and running

What you see is not always what you get.

Have you ever purchased something only to find out that you needed different software, batteries, assembly, or whatever, and that you really didn’t know how to do yourself?

ATMs are sophisticated pieces of equipment filled with electronics, power supplies, belts, bearings, PC cores, communications devices, harnesses, cabling, LEDs — the list goes on and on.

For instance, to get to ADA compliance, you might have found out that not only did you have to install an audio jack, but you also had to have a volume control for it. Many jacks didn’t provide volume control. And some software wasn't designed to provide it, either. Then there was the possibility with some brands that once you had the correct software, you would find that you needed a completely different CORE or LCD.

The fact that an ATM looked like it was compliant didn’t mean it was. And it took skilled, professional sales and service companies to see the needs and to make the upgrades go as smoothly as possible. I saw colleagues in California, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and everywhere in between work tirelessly to save financial institutions money and protect their investment in an ATM fleet.

What you don’t see matters.

Once ATMs are delivered, do you simply plug them in and — BAM! — they work?

If they were toasters they would. However, we have established that they are not toasters, so we know that during the rush to ADA compliance much more than a simple power supply was involved.

Again, skilled, professional sales and service companies were (and still are) needed to ensure that the network would drive the machine properly. Some brands might require four or five hours of software loading and setup so that the ATM would run correctly based on the configuration, network and customer requirements. 

Getting it right would save many hours of reloading, downtime, frustration, and ultimately, lots of money ADA exposed many strengths and weaknesses of individual sales and service companies but clearly highlighted their value as a whole to financial institutions.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, PCI and EMV added wrinkles to many replacements and upgrades — and they still apply today. If you are a financial institution, do you have a partner who helps you sort out all of the wrinkles in order to save you time, money and any unintended consequences of your decisions? One who fully understands the value of the ATMs you have deployed and can advise you of upgrades — ADA related or not — that still need to be done?

If ATMs were toasters, ADA would have been a fairly easy transition in which everyone ended up with nice, shiny brand new machines that gave out cash. Now we all know what a huge "IF" that is. And why, in real life, ATMs require skilled, professional partners to keep an FI's fleet up and running and keep their customers happy. I've had the opportunity to work with many of the best; looking back on ADA has helped me appreciate their value even more!

Topics: ADA Compliance , Components , Distributors / ISO / IAD , Installation / Deployment , Regulatory Issues , Service / Parts

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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