ATMs and bad UI

Seth Nickell on bad ATM user interfaces:

Despite the fact that most ATMs only handle money in multiples of $20, they still require you to enter the “cents”. So asking for $40 entails the button sequence 4-0-0-0. I almost always withdraw $40, so I perform this series of presses without a lot of higher brain involvement. Unfortunately, this ATM fixed a “bug” in the way 95% ATMs work: they only let you enter whole dollar values.

The ATM’s I’ve been using say on screen, at the end of the transaction – “Be sure to take all bills.”

Is this a problem? I can understand Seth’s rather comical tale of losing his card, but do people regularly forget to take their money?


  1. *raises his hand* I’ve done this before. Talking with my girlfriend, not really paying attention, I grabbed the card and receipt, but completely forget the money itself.

    Half an hour later, I realized the mistake, but knew by then someone else had already gotten a free $40.

    My good friend of the time, a week later, was talking about how he found $40 in an ATM. The same ATM I left the money in. On the same day as I forgot my money. What’re the odds, eh?

    Of course, the bastard didn’t give me my $40 back. ~,^

  2. It’s pretty common to find leftover bills in old-style ATMs where the money falls from the slot into a container, rather than having the slot out to the open. The bills can get stuck to the back-facing wall of the receptacle, and people forget to “scrape” it.

  3. If people are absent-mindedly forgetting their dough, though, a simple screen message seems insufficient. Perhaps having the ATM yell, “Hey dipshit, don’t forget your money!”

  4. I always leave the card, not the cash. I much prefer ATMs that force you to take the card out before it gives you the money.

  5. A friend of mine left cash in the machine once.
    As it turns out the machine reingested it after a short while so it got credited back to his account with no problems.
    Would he have remembered the cash if there was a little message telling him to? Who knows, but the ATM’s got a screen so you may as well put something on it.

  6. UK cash machines don’t typically have these problems. They all require you to remove your bank card before they give you money. Most, when you select the withdrawl option, will present you with a screen of common options and you press a button next to the screen with the appropriate label (Including “other”). My bank doesn’t do that though, but the only time a cash machine will ask for an amount including pennies is when you’re depositing a cheque.

  7. I forgot my money in the ATM once. Actually, just last Saturday. Man, I am a total idiot. At the moment the withdrawal is “pending.” I’m hoping what Paulm said happens for me. Maybe the money went back into the machine. I only left for the amount of time to walk from the machine into the store. It was a very short amount of time and no one was all that close to the machine.

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