Don’t talk to the ATM, young man, it’s just a machine and there’s nobody inside

But there was a network tech inside, wiring it up. And in the right bank, this time

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On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, The Register’s Friday forage through readers’ memories of tech support jobs that became FUBAR*.

This week meet “Robin” who back in the 1980s had a bit to do with a company called “Lion Systems Developments” – or LSD for short.

Robin was around when LSD “won the contract to supply the communication links for the newly introduced ATM's for a major UK bank.”

Which bank? Let’s just keep the bird motif going here and think blue logos, okay?

“Part of the installation process required a tech to lay cables under the branch computer room’s raised floor,” Robin explained, “and one poor chap was having considerable difficulty in matching his drawings to the cabling he was looking at.”

“After a couple of hours getting nowhere, he called his manager for further advice.”

In the ensuing banter the pair agreed that the best course of action was for the engineer to “crawl back to the access hatch and stick his head out and tell him the colour of the walls in the computer room.”

Said engineer did as asked, popped up his head and yelled “green!”

At which point the manager figured out the problem: they were in the wrong bank.

Dot matrix printer with continuous stationery

Send printer ink, please. More again please, and fast. Now send it faster


“The walls he was looking at were green not blue,” Robin told On-Call! “How he had been granted access to the computer room in the first place shows how poor security was back in the 80's.”

The engineer duly “made an excuse that he needed some parts from this van, packed up his kit and calmly walked out of the bank, crossed the high street, entered the correct bank and completed the install without further issue!”

The ATM-wiring gig produced another classic moment when the same manager went to meet a new field tech who was installing a machine on a Sunday.

On arriving at the branch the manager knocked on the door and nobody answered, so he wandered around to the AT machine and heard the tech working inside.

Said manager therefore “knocked loudly on the ATM and called out the field tech’s name.”

At which point a “little old lady walked past, stopped, approached the manager and politely informed him that the ATM is only a machine there is no one working it!”

Have you done the right job, in the wrong place? Or been told off by a member of the public? In either case, click here to share your story with On-Call and we might just give your story a run here on a future Friday. ®

* FUBAR = f****d up beyond all recognition.

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