Alan Dee: Grinding my teeth over retractable receipts

It’s the little things that can be relied on to reach out, grab hold of the sensitive parts of my individual goat and squeeze hard, I always find.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 11th June 2013, 5:47 am
Opinion - Alan Dee
Opinion - Alan Dee

But when one thing that gets my goat is replaced by another thing that gets my goat, there’s no way of getting around it – that really gets my goat. It gets my goat to such a degree that I feel myself turning into a grumpy troll living under a bridge, waiting for goats to trip trap overhead so that I can vent my entirely justified irritation at their cloven-hoofed clatter.

So let’s talk about advice slips, those little slips of paper spewed out by cash machines to tell you how much of your money you’ve just been reunited with and how much you’ve got left.

Back in the early days of ATMs, you got an advice slip whether you wanted one or not, and more often than not people left them at the scene, causing a real litter problem and making the banks look bad. Imagine, banks looking bad, who’d have thought?

So they installed little litter bins alongside the machines for discarded debris, but they didn’t work.

Then they got cuter with the technology, and you were able to specify whether you wanted a slip or not as you worked your way through the ‘please give me some money’ process.

But that didn’t work either – even though many people deliberately asked for a slip, they still left it at the scene.

Now that was irritating, even if it was a source of guilty please. Come on, who hasn’t sneaked a look at someone else’s advice slip, scanned their anonymous financial details and conjured up scenarios about what they were going to do with the cash? Just me? I suppose you’ll be telling me next that you don’t make up manic Come Dine With Me menus from the ingredients in the trolley of the person ahead of you in the supermarket queue?

But I digress. The latest wheeze from the banking boys and girls to avoid the confetti of abandoned bits of paper on the pavement below an ATM is the retractable receipt.

It’s only operating on one machine near me, but it’s the one I use most often – just not often enough to work it out yet.

And what happens is that while I am doing sensible things like retrieving my card and stowing it away safely and picking up the cash and quickly counting it, the receipt pops out – and if it’s not grabbed immediately, it gets gobbled back up by the ATM to keep the streets nice and tidy. I haven’t got the receipt I wanted, and there’s no second chance.

Because it’s only a little thing, I haven’t yet learned to modify my ATM behaviour to give me the time I need, or even avoid that machine.

But please believe me, every time it happens it is really, really irritating.