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Wanna bank on it?

John Ward
John Ward

WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

In recent times or rather towards the end of last year there were assorted articles in the media about ATM cash machines being either withdrawn or bank branches being closed, as we are more than aware of in some small towns and villages.

The supposed brain storming idea behind all this is the fact (debatable at this point) that internet banking is the way forward but in real terms, is it?

Living in what estate agents would call ‘an idyllic rural setting’ I find that one point they don’t mention is the fact (as was highlighted recently as being about seventh in poor connection in or around this area) that broadband connection or reception is very poor or non existent depending on the time of day you try to ‘log on’ so if you were or have to rely on the said internet for banking purposes, you might as well file for bankruptcy now and get it over with.

To be totally reliant on this form of internet service is madness as in recent times the NHS system, such as it is, was ‘hacked’ (allegedly and on numerous occasions) along with other similar sized and important services with the finger, or mouse if you prefer, aimed at assorted countries around the globe whom have progressed beyond playing darts, crib and shove half penny as forms of leisure pursuits although dominoes, as in falling down, is coming pretty close.

I remember only too well some years ago when some banks went into meltdown over a Bank Holiday (surely an irony there – the bank bit that is...) and the almighty ATM machines were transformed into useless carbuncles as you could not get any cash out of them and the queues forming in front of them had to be seen and it was close to civil riot at one point but I did learn new swear words though.

Once it was sorted out after the supposed ‘holiday’ period, there was the standard issue apology but then the now expected punch line at the end as in ‘lessons have been learnt’ was not then in fashion as a ‘get out of jail’ card as in certain board games, that is very popular today of course.

So with unreliable broadband service to back the idea of internet banking up, what else is in the fun cupboard of delights can we but wonder about in the automated world?

With increased automated or robotic checkouts in shops, stores and perhaps undertakers if we don’t watch out and might give a whole new meaning to the robotic voice uttering out: ‘Unexpected item in the bagging area’.

Even this modern wonder of the current age still needs somebody there to sort these out as they are not foolproof as they still need the human element due to the complexity of them.

With the assorted automated requests or commands uttered from them that range from: ’Do you have your own bag/s?’ to ‘Do you feel you have the mental ability to carry on to the very end of this exercise before reaching your pain threshold’ or Plan R, ‘Do you require assistance?’ (‘Please scream quietly ’).

Apart from the manufacturers of these machines, I don’t really see who benefits from them as they slow things up generally in a lot of cases although no doubt the assorted manufacturers have covered themselves by saying ‘research shows’ etc in their favour that they are the best things since sliced bread, wholemeal or decaffeinated for those who are trendy or picky in their lifestyle.

They do however provide a sort of entertainment in that I have often stood in a queue watching the antics of people using these machines, the staff trying to sort problems out and it can be both quite entertaining and also enlightening into how much the human can take.

On one memorable occasion and hence why I am writing about it now, when a gent gave up half way through the procedure after hearing the machine saying: ‘an unexpected item is in the bagging area’ about five times despite, as even I could see from my position, there was nothing in said bagging area that may have prompted this response.

By now said gent/trainee customer is about to blow his cool – there were signs even to the untrained eye not into psychological warfare – that things were coming to a head as before I put my objects of desire I wished to purchase the traditional way on the moving conveyor belt – I had opted for the human contact choice – he exploded thus.

‘Xxxx it! – There is NOTHING – I repeat NOTHING! – NOTHING in the xxxxing bagging xxxxing area, you xxxxxxxy moron! – I just want my goods and to pay for them and xxxx off home!’

Tut, tut I thought – he’s upset.

In basic terms this reads something along the following lines: he knew there was nothing in the said bagging area, he was slightly miffed at being asked a few times and all he wanted to do was to pay for the items he had brought to this point and go home.

Next was pure farce as he dragged the items out of the carrier bag, threw them on the floor, ripped the carrier bag into shreds and then walked away in what could be possibly referred to as a bit of rage or even slightly upset but nobody staff-wise appeared keen or tooled up to stop or ask him if there was a problem but he did get a round of applause from us mere cattle who had opted for the traditional face to face way of buying our goods and items.

If ever there was a time to utter ‘lessons have been learnt’ this was not it sadly.

It’s possible or more than likely the way things are going that in the near future you will be able to visit a museum, or the cyber version to see a waxworks (or hologram depending on your network provider) of someone in a uniform or overall with a store or company logo on the top pocket with the label below reading: ‘Check Out Assistant – popular from approximately the 1600s to the early 2000s before becoming extinct due to progress – was basically reliable but non programmable’.

Meanwhile should you make noises about the poor broadband service, bearing in mind you are only a customer who pays for this less then sub standard service, you will be put in your place by some quango or similar out of touch body via a ‘report’ or press release to the media telling you that it is the finest service going and we are on a par with Outer Mongolia for speed and access to broadband – Bert and his goodly wife Elsie living/surviving in Inner Mongolia would like to say differently but cannot log on to say otherwise due to the poor service, but will try again later.

Our current broadband provider, reportedly the biggest one, is still trying to sign up even more sporting events that will be available on-line that perhaps will be only watched by a handful of ‘supporters’ while the actual infrastructure seems to be starved of funds to provide a decent service before we have LIVE coverage of the Shove-Halfpenny World Grand finals from the ‘Mouse and Trap’ public house in downtown Fulham where they may have good broadband service – hopefully.

If you think I am joking, it’s perhaps best to bank on that happening.


Garden party anyone?


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