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Friday, November 09, 2007

Cash flow crisis

Sideline article from today's Irish Independent

I think – in fact, I know – that if I ever end up in front of a judge, it will be for causing a disturbance while queuing to get cash from an ATM. Queuing, and delays, and dealing with idiots are all part of city life, but nowhere do all those qualities converge in one sanity-testing exercise than at the cash machine.

First and foremost, there are not enough of them, not by half. Paying by Laser is all very good, but not everywhere accepts that card, and sometimes you just need cash in your wallet. But in Dublin, for instance, there is a chronic shortage of functioning ATMs. Take Parnell Street on the northside of the city. There's no ATM machine – that's right, NONE - along that whole stretch.

There's one machine along the whole of Capel Street. Cross over the river, there's none on Parliament Street, and one on the whole of Lord Edward Street and most of Dame Street.It's insane! At the busiest times of the day, and on most weekend nights, you could be queuing at a machine for up to 20 minutes.

That's of course if you can find one that's working. There have been nights in the capital where I am socialising on, say, South George's Street,and have had to walk to Stephen's Green or further to find a functioning machine.

What I don't understand is, surely, SURELY it would be in the best interests of our "customer friendly" financial institutions to install more cash points or ATM lobbies? And considering the 100 million euro+ that the Government makes on the back of ATM charges and the like, surely they can see the benefit of making it easier for us to access our money?

But what makes the whole ATM experience most frustrating are the people you encounter at them. Why is it that the person or people in front of you always seem to be ATM virgins, and so spend an eternity jabbing at the keypad with a bewildered look on their faces as if taking out cash was akin to operating the Hubble Space Telescope? Move it along people for the love of God!

I'm on my knees here begging for banks to step in and sort out this mess. Otherwise, I might have to turn into Michael Douglas in the movie Falling Down. But that wouldn't be worth it: I'd have to queue for a half an hour at an ATM to get the bail money first.

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