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Tuesday 23 November 2010

Cash machine horror, ATM screen shows Windows is shutting down message while it has my debit card.

Last week I had a nightmare incident when using a cash machine in Derby. Has anyone else ever had this problem, its not very nice. It just shows you how its important not to trust your life with these machines.
Its kinda funny looking back on it now, I wish I had videoed the bloody thing doing what it did.

I have been using many cash machines (ATMs) for over 20 years all over the world (well USA, Jersey, Ireland and UK :)) and never had any problems with any of them until this.

The story:

Basically I put my debit card in, entered the PIN then pressed the button “Cash with advice slip”. After a few seconds it showed a message on screen “We are currently unable to print an advice slip, do you want to continue?”

So I pressed the YES button, then it asked how much money and I pressed the £50 button but it did not respond at all. I thought perhaps the button was faulty so pressed £50 a bit harder but still nothing.

Mmmm perhaps it can’t dispense £50 due to lack of certain back notes (even though it would normally tell you so). I pressed the £40 button but still nothing so then pressed the £10 button and still no response from it.

OK I thought this ATM is knackered so I pressed the Cancel button expecting it to eject my card so I could try another ATM, but to my horror the Cancel button was not doing anything either!
Pressed Cancel a few more times, then to my surprise the ATM screen suddenly had a mouse pointer on it and a DOS popup window appeared which said “McAfee automatic update in progress”. What on earth is happening here looks like a virus scanner is updating which has stopped the actual operation of the cash machine, surely not?

Once it had done some updating of files that window vanished off screen and it said “Windows is shutting down” My God I whats going on. Windows running the ATM!!!

Then after bit it showed PC BIOS initialising messages and then Windows NT is starting up messages.

Obviously while all of this was going on, in the back of your mind you are thinking what’s going to happen to my card, Will I ever see it again?

After it had finished booting Windows NT the screen changed to ”Sorry Temporarily out of service”. See my photo here:

So that’s the end of the card then, I went into the bank that the ATM was attached to and had to queue for ages only to be told that “we do not have access to the machine and any cards that are not ejected get automatically shredded by the machine. You will have to contact your own back to get a replacement card”.

After ringing up my bank and putting a block on the lost card (just in case) I had to ask for a replacement card to be sent. My bank also said that ATMs automatically shred cards that don’t get ejected out which sounds a bit odd.

So the moral of the story is make sure you have an emergency credit card just in case Windows throws a wobbler on your ATM and decides its going to eat your card for dinner!

Until this happened I did not realise that cash machines actually ran Windows operating system, scary isn’t it ! but I guess its cheaper to use an off the shelf operating system.
Surely it was not really McAfee anti-virus software updating that killed the cash Machine? Why would you have antivirus software running on a ATM anyway its not like its got any user-accessible USB ports that people can get to infect it via!

Anyone who works at NCR able to give feedback on this?

Hope you found this story funny

1 comment:

  1. Hey dude, maybe you should post this story to reddit.com, someone there might now about it.