People using a cash machine at Bazza’s Fags and Mags in Osborne Road in Westcliff have contacted Southend News Network to describe their anger after it emerged that the £1.99-per-transaction cash machine announces PIN numbers while they are being typed in. Witnesses have reported that the machine speaks so loudly that anyone in the popular convenience store can hear, but the store owner is adamant that the cash machine is going to ‘revolutionise’ banking for individuals who are visually impaired.
Chloe Linkton, 22, popped in to withdraw some money last week, and she told our Chief Reporter that she was ‘shocked’ after hearing her PIN number blasted out through the machine’s loudspeaker. She said: ‘Once I put my card in, there was a message on screen telling me to cover up the keypad while typing my PIN, and then every time I pressed a button the machine loudly announced the number that I had selected. I know that people with visual problems may need some extra help, but I can see this being a problem. Paying £2 is bad enough, but having everyone hearing your PIN number is very worrying as I won’t be able to remember a new one.’
Patricia Scoggs, 86, visits the store every day to withdraw £10 for shopping as it is the only cash machine within walking distance of her home, and her daughter Mary told us that she has had to change her PIN number more than 20 times in the last month. She said: ‘Every time I complained to the owner of the shop, he just said that the machine is helping people who cannot see the keyboard properly, but I have always thought that all cashpoints have headphone sockets so that the PIN number can be announced privately.’
We asked the store owner Barry Skimmer about the cash machine, and he told us that a number of visually-impaired customers had praised the new addition to his shop. He said: ‘I had the idea to install a loudspeaker on the cash machine when a few customers turned up without their headphones that would usually keep audible PIN numbers private to them. I realised that I was losing out on the £1.99 ATM charge every time that they walked away, and so I adapted the machine with a speaker that announces the numbers loudly as they are typed in. If anyone is worried about their PIN number being overheard, they should just choose one that is difficult to remember.’