As ATM's dried up, long queues started lining up outside machines.
FAISALABAD: Hundreds of bank account holders have complained that they could not withdraw cash due to out-of-order Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) during Eid holidays or because the ATMs were out of cash, often causing embarrassment to them.
According to customers, not only were there long queues in front of ATMs, card holders were also seen quarreling and exchanging harsh words with bank guards in some areas. At most of the banks, private guards, who normally stand alert outside the banks, preferred to remain inside the premises to avoid interacting with annoyed account holders who failed to draw cash.
Muhammad Ismael, who was standing outside a bank branch on Eid day, said, “I could not draw money from the bank on the eve of Eid due to rush of customers in front of ATM and decided to come next day, but to no avail.”
“I have no money in my house while my wife and kids are insisting on disbursement of Eidi among children as well as relatives,” he said. “It is very embarrassing for me that I ask for credit or loan from a friend or relative on Eid days.” Muhammad Akram, while standing in front of an ATM of another bank branch, said, “The bank administration has not made elaborate arrangements to disburse cash to account holders through ATMs due to which many people, like me, have returned disappointed after standing in long queues.”
Earlier before the introduction of ATMs on a wide scale, account holders had been quite comfortable as they had no option but to withdraw money from banks at least two to three days before Eid, using cheques. However, now the majority of customers rely on ATM cards to withdraw cash through a transaction that takes hardly a minute.
Some bank managers argued that ATMs were not out of order, actually they had run out of cash due to heavy withdrawals during prolonged Eid holidays, adding, however, that most of the banks had not made contingency plans for refilling ATMs with cash.
ATMs have a capacity to hold around Rs3 million and in normal working days the amount is more than sufficient for a day. However, during prolonged Eid holidays, it is not enough to meet the needs of account holders.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.