Automatic Teller UI, Can we fix this please?

While sitting in a restaurant last night I was watching the waitress use the touch screen POS system.  I’m always interested in the user interface of systems like this, and though it certainly seemed functional enough, I have to say that the button look and layout was just plain ugly.  I could only think “would it really have been that hard to pretty this thing up a bit.”

Earlier in the day I had stopped at my local Chase ATM to grab some cash.  The woman in front of me finished up her transaction and rushed off.  When I approached the screen I was met with the “Do you want another transaction?” screen.  While I was pressing the “No” response, I thought “Thank God I’m not somebody who would extract cash from this person’s account”.

Which brings me to one of my biggest User Interface pet peeves.  Why does this screen exist?  What programming genius decided that every person who ever uses an ATM should be asked if they would like to perform another transaction?  I have got to believe that literally 99% of all users walk up to an ATM and perform a single transaction.   Whoever designed this decided that it was better for 99 people to have to press NO, taking the chance that they walk away and have money stolen from their account, for the convenience of the 1 person who does multiple transactions.

Some bank web-sites even mention this in their ATM security section.  And I quote:

Make sure you have finalized the transaction and removed your card before leaving the ATM. Some ATMs ask if you want “another transaction”. You must reply “No” to close out your card’s transactions. If you do not close your card’s transactions and remove your card, the next ATM user can use your card.

The simple answer here is to do away with this screen. Let the 1 out of 100 users who actually wants to do a deposit and get some cash re-swipe his card and reenter his PIN.

Occasionally you still run into ATMs that have the “suck your card inside mechanism.”  A number of times I’ve watched people walk away counting their money leaving their card inside the machine.  I never understood why those machines don’t kick out the card and then dispense your money. No one is ever going to leave without their money.  It would’ve been so simple to just change the order of cash dispersion and card ejection and problem solved.

As a programmer these kinds of things make me nuts.  I’m hoping that the ATM industry did lots of research and there’s something I’m missing here. There is some mysterious reason why they chose to program these machines in this fashion.  My guess is it was someone not thinking about it, or someone who did, but thought that fighting to get the change made late in production was too much of a hassle.  No matter what the reason it’s not helping out the poor person who doesn’t have an honest person behind them when they forget to press No.

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