On 31st March 2018, a man in Paro was deceived by the same technology that was put in place to reduce human errors in the delivery of banking services to the clients.
He had withdrawn Nu.20,000 from an ATM machine but since there was a long queue of people behind him waiting to withdraw their cash, he had no time to count his money on the spot.
So he left the ATM booth trusting that the machine would have dispensed the exact amount he had withdrawn. But when he counted it later, he was shocked to know that he was dispensed only Nu.18,000.
He immediately called the Customer Service Unit of the Bank of Bhutan to report the case. But he was told that since he had not counted his cash under the CCTV camera inside the ATM booth, there was no possibility for the bank to verify his claims. Upon his repeated requests, the bank finally agreed to crosscheck the ATM machine he had used and found out that it had dispensed Nu.1000 extra to another client after him. The bank agreed to reimburse only that amount and another Nu.1000 had just disappeared into thin air.
In a world of advanced technology, it’s unbelievable how such a thing could have happened. He had shared his experiences on Facebook for the benefit of others who are equally vulnerable to such technological lapses. The comments on his Facebook post showed that he was certainly not the only victim. Many readers had shared how they too had gone through similar experiences due to the strange behaviors of ATM machines. It is said that some people have even been dispensed torn bank notes which they had to exchange at the Royal Monetary Authority since they did not contain serial numbers.
Whatever may be the technical issue with some ATM machines, there is certainly a big lesson to learn from the above incident. No matter how busy we might be, it looks like we should always have the time to count our cash right on the spot, be it inside the ATM booth or in front of the bank counter to ensure that the banks at least have some evidences to verify our claims if any such problem arises.
In March 2012, a Bhutanese in Australia, while withdrawing his entire savings from the bank, did not realize that the amount he was given by the bank was $1000 less than the actual amount he had withdrawn. He realized this only when he reached home, but the bank did not entertain his complaint since he had not counted the cash in front of the counter.
The incidents like this are a clear reminder that we can never fully trust our technology no matter how advanced it may be. The advent of latest technology and sophisticated equipment has made our life so easy and comfortable, but we should never take things for granted. We cannot afford to be careless and irresponsible. If we do not stay alert and cautious, we can also fall victim to such a technological disaster.
By Amrith Bdr Subba
The writer is a visually challenged counselor at the Youth Center Division, Department of Youth and Sports under the Ministry of Education.