LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: A voice in the ATM booth | Sunday Observer

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: A voice in the ATM booth

In an article in your newspaper, dated Feb 5 2017, titled, ‘Hackers move faster than the law’, by Lalin Fernandopulle, the writer has advised bank card users, before feeding in their personal data to the ATM, to check that no camera was stuck at ATMs that could capture PIN numbers.

On January 17, I wanted to withdraw some money from my bank account, through the HNB ATM located at Jetwing Blue, Sea Street, Negombo. This is a tourist zone, where many high class hotels are situated. I am a senior, long time resident in Sri Lanka and on these sunny days I always wear a cap to protect my scalp with the receding hairline, from the scorching sun. Outside the ATM there was one security camera and inside, another with a loudspeaker. I inserted my bank card into the slot and started to tip in my personal data into the ATM.

I was startled when a booming voice from the upper corner of the booth ordered to take off my cap. It was like a military command - “remove your cap, remove your cap”! There was no polite “please”. I looked up at the security camera so that my face could be seen. Apparently, it did not satisfy “the voice” and the command “remove your cap, remove your cap” grew louder and louder, reaching some thundering 100 decibels. I did not succumb to this rude, humiliating order, as in one hand I was holding my purse and my other hand was busy with the ATM. Where could I have put my cap, thrown it down on the floor, as there wasn’t a single hook in the booth to hang it on?

I was shocked, and tried to find the rude security guard but my search was unsuccessful. Who has given the bank security guards the order to demand customers to remove their head covers, especially, at ATMs, where the visor of your cap gives you some visual protection when tipping in your PIN? I for one, remove my cap only in places of worship and I do not feel compelled to do so in public places: offices, banks, etc. If there was a corresponding gazetted notification to remove head covers - caps, hats, scarves (I am not talking about motorbike helmets, which is a reasonable demand) before entering the ATM booth, then I would comply with it. Until then, such rude behaviour is not acceptable and tarnishes the reputation of the country, which is trying hard to attract more foreign tourists. If the banks want a total transparency of their customers, like in an “Orwellian” nightmare, they might be tempted later on, to instal screening, scanning machines in their premises. To implement that would cost a lot of money, but then they would really have a “transparent” customer.

S. Mack


Alwis Town residents in ‘hardware’ pollution!

Residents in and around Alwis Town Junction, Hendala are severely inconvenienced by two hardware shops that carry on their business in a manner causing much annoyance to those living in the neighbourhood. Work goes on at the two stores in this residential area, regardless of the noise and environmental pollution.

Residents point out, it is a violation of their fundamental rights. Most of the residents are retired citizens, in need of rest and relaxation. Moreover, they have been subjected to health hazards due to dust emanating while loading and unloading sand and rock, which go on unabated, any time of the day. Besides, maintenance of their houses has become a burden to the residents.

The plying of heavy duty vehicles with machinery cause unbearable noise, raising dust, added with the lavish use of foul language and behaviour, which has become an agony to the residents.

“We are unable to entertain visitors, nor have a good night’s sleep. We have been requesting them to streamline their operations to minimize sound and environmental pollution, but it has been of no avail,” a resident said.

All our efforts to solve the issue in an amicable manner have failed. Complaints to the custodians of the law too have failed. Residents say their appeals have fallen on deaf ears, and appeal to the authorities to help them.

- A.S.C.
Alwis Town.