Friday, August 14, 2009

Real Life Testing Scenario – Bank ATMs

I think a lot of real life defects you come across would have to do with Bank ATMs. Maybe because of complexity of coding the human-machine interface logic, the plethora of usage scenarios and/or real-time nature of the transactions that it is really hard to make a defect free (or almost) ATM machine.

Yesterday I faced one such scenario when trying to deposit some cash in an ATM machine. This was one of those BoFA ATMs that don’t need an envelope to deposit. You just put the cash in a slot in the ATM and it does the rest. It scans and counts the bill and tells you the total amount deposited.

So as I put all the cash in the slot, it closed the slot door and scanned and counted all the bills. But after it was done, It gave me a message on the screen that some of the bills couldn’t be accepted and opened the slot door for me to take the bills out. There was only 1 bill there and all others were accepted. I took out the one bill it couldn’t accept and it closed the slot door and showed the amount that it had accepted correctly. Pretty neat…so far.

On the same screen, it asked whether I wanted to add more money to the deposit. I pressed “Cash” and it opened the slot door again. After pressing and straightening the bill it had rejected previously. I put that in the slot. It didn’t accept the bill this time either. It gave me the error message and opened the slot door. I took the bill out and it closed the door. But…the error screen didn’t go away. It continued beeping and complaining that it couldn’t accept the bill even after it had closed the slot door. There were no options available…cancel the transaction, return the card…nothing. Just the error message and no buttons to select. At this point, my card was inside the ATM and so was the cash and I had no proof of the deposit! I didn’t have the customer service number because it is printed on the back of the card.

Well, after fruitlessly pressing random buttons including the cancel button and including keeping the cancel button pressed for sometime, I gave up. I approached the lady at next ATM slowly lest she thought I’m going to mug her. But she probably saw the ordeal I was going through and gave me the customer service number from the back of her card. And after spending about 40 minutes on the phone during which I faced numerous call transfers and 1 disconnect and had to talk to the amazingly annoying automated voice response system, I got to talk to a real person who seemed to understand what I was going through and gave me a temporary credit pending research. The previous card was rejected and a new card will be sent.

So…here are the steps:
1. Deposit Card in the ATM slot and go through entering the PIN etc.
2. Select “Deposit”…and “Cash”
3. Once the cash slot door opens, enter several bills at least 1 of which will definitely be rejected.
4. After it complains about the bills, take the bill(s) out.
5. Once the slot door closes and it counts and shows the amount, press the option to add more money to the current deposit.
6. After the slot door opens, add the rejected bill(s)
7. After it shows the error screen again and opens the slot door, take out the rejected bill.

The expected result at this point is for the machine to detect that I have taken the rejected bill out, close the slot door and continue with the amount that was previously determined. It should show me the options again that were shown at Step 5 and let me choose whether I want to try adding more cash again or just go ahead with whatever amount that has been added already. No matter how many times I add previously rejected bills, it should either accept the bills or reject them. This seems to be a normal usage scenario to me, which should’ve been tested thoroughly. This kind of scenario is very likely to happen and it’s not something a user would have to try real hard to go through. I honestly doubt that this issue can be replicated again by following the exact same steps. There has to be some other variable which caused the machine to malfunction.

If I had to test the scenario, there are several things I would want to know:
Firstly, how does the bill scanning logic works. How is it decided whether a bill should be accepted or rejected. Once I know that, I can test with several combinations of different amounts, with different combinations of good and bad bills and different degree of bad quality bills. Maybe also with junk (coins? fake bills? other paper? leaves? lint?)instead of bills!
Secondly, how does it detect whether the bills have been added or removed from the slot to close the slot door. Based on this, I can test with different number of bills to validate if it detects the change.
There are a lot of other exception scenarios also that come to mind…for example, what if somebody props up the slot door open by jamming something through the door? What if somebody continues to add rejected bills 5 times? 10 times? 100 times? (of course, not all the scenarios are realistic so the likelihood of the scenario would have to be weighed against its criticality).

It seems that in this case, it did recognize that I had taken the rejected bills out because it closed the slot door. This is assuming that it closes the slot door only after it detects that the bills have been removed. If it closes the door after a fixed time (I hope not), then this statement is invalid. Anyways, assuming it detected the change, it seems to have failed to continue to the next step which is to carry on with the transaction and provide the options to the user to choose what to do next. This is exactly where I would look to identify the problem by running various scenarios or a combination of scenarios.

No comments:

Post a Comment