my personal problems with ATM's and y2k : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This actually happened to ME. I split my time between St. Louis and East Tennessee. I keep a checking account in Tennessee at Citizen's Bank of Blount County. In February I tried to use the ATM card for this account at a CBBC branch. The ATM said "card invalid" I went inside with my "invalid card", told a teller what has happened, and I opined that I had probably demagnetized the card. She said nothing to disabuse me of this opinion, took my card, filled out some paperwork, and told me that I should have a new one in a few days.

Fast forward to today. I'm heading back to Tennesse soon, and thought again about the replacement ATM card and realized I had not received it. So I call up the bank. The person I talk to says that the bank is undergoing a conversion from one ATM service provider to another. I asked if this was y2k related. Long silence. Then the bank person said that their old provider was not y2k compliant. The new cards should be mailed out 10 business days after April 8th.

Note that I have not had a working ATM card for this account for TWO MONTHS. Two months during which East Tennessee had power, phones, gas, and food.

So if anyone still believes that problems at rollover can be fixed in 3 days, boy will I ever make you a great bargain on some Louisiana swampland.

-- Les Holladay (, April 19, 1999


(satire mode activated) For all those who are in bliss about Y2K, it has been said in various places...tis the "death of a thousand cuts..." In past decades many eastern European countries have lived with the bare minimum of modern conveniences,...of what we will experience of Y2K...elevators and phones that don't always work...frequent brown-outs, bad data processing at "governmental" sites. The western world is very spoiled. I think the reduction of services to eastern european standards is the very least we can expect from Y2K....we will have not choice about "living with it." We will have to.

-- Donna Barthuley (, April 19, 1999.

Thought all ATM's were going to work "just fine" next year -

Wellllllll - this gives another indication that some will remediate and prosper, most will remediate and survive, some may remediate and fail, and some will fail to remediate.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, April 19, 1999.

"He that hath ears to hear...."

-- Tom Carey (, April 20, 1999.


>The ATM said "card invalid"

Yeah ... well, we ATM programmers are a lazy and illiterate lot in general.

Also, there's the matter of the necessity of saving every byte of storage space possible (if this sounds familiar, it is). You see, inside each ATM is a little computer. IBM ATMs are run by old 360 CPUs (this is the truth). Other brands have the guts of PCs (everything except the case) inside them. When ATMs were first developed, their internal computers had small amounts of memory for storing messages, so it was necessary to do several things to minimize the total space required for messages. Short texts (leave out the pronouns and verbs! "We find that your card is invalid in some respect" => "card invalid"). Use the same message for as many different status codes as you can ("This ATM's card reader could not read the magnetic stripe on your card" => "card invalid". "When our processing center tried to look up your card number's prefix, it found no match in our tables relating prefix to bank, so we have no way of routing your transaction to the bank that issued your card." => "card invalid").

Nowadays, ATMs have much larger internal memories (fancy moving graphics on the display screen), but ... the error messages are so standardized and built into the fabric of the processing software that almost everyone still uses the scrunched-up text just in case there's a 20-year-old Diebold 910 clone still out there on the netwsork.

Also, there's inertia. You see, once someone has initially set up the tables of messages for all the two-hundred-and-whatever codes, it's a real pain to change any of them.

>I opined that I had probably demagnetized the card.

My ex used to claim that eelskin wallets demagnetized her credit and ATM (debit) cards "because of the electricity left over in the eel skin". She had a card go bad every few years.

Eventually (I didn't figure it out right away) after I had the zipper pull out of an eelskin keycase and got a replacement keycase with a magnetic clasp, it dawned on me. Most eelskin wallets have magnetic clasps (all of hers did). If the mag strip on a card stored in the wallet were close enough to the magnet, over the course of several months ...

-- No Spam Please (, April 20, 1999.

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