In a bid to become the most ostentatious accommodation in the Emirates, Abu Dhabi's top hotel has installed an ATM which dispenses small gold bars instead of traditional cash, but the design has recieved some heavy criticism.
Early users of the device have found the equipment frustrating to use. 'I put my card in, but the machine spat it straight back out saying it was unreadable,' said Majid bin Nasrallah. 'I tried again and it took it this time. I put my PIN in, chose $20,000 and then it made the usual loud fluttering noise as it flashed 'Your gold is being counted' on the screen. It took ages to reach to temperature, smelt the ore, refine it and finally cast my ingot.'
'Once it was done, I took my card out and there was this almighty clunk,' he explained, 'but when I opened the dispensing drawer you could see the bar was stuck tight in the drop tube. I tried giving it a thump but it wouldn't budge so I had to leave it there whilst I nipped round to reception to complain. The lady came along and, after trying several keys, she opened the front of the machine to find that someone had managed to get the bar loose and had taken it.'
Staff at the hotel claim the machine is a concession and that problems aren't their responsibility. 'I had to wait for it to make me another,' explained Mr Nasrallah, 'though it was quite nice to watch the insides working. I'm not entirely sure where I can actually spend the gold, or how they're going to give me my change, and losing my first bar has honestly made me quite disappointed with the whole experience. On the plus side, my mates seemed quite impressed.'
Thomas Giessler, the German entrepreneur behind 'Gold To Go', has responded to claims that the ATM is a 'flawed concept', has been 'poorly executed' and is 'ultimately completely pointless'. 'High-fliers in the Middle East need a way to show off quite how affluent they are,' said Giessler. 'Without this ATM they only have their huge yachts, massive property portfolios and trappings of luxury to demonstrate their wealth. They need a service like this as the ultimate in show-off-ability.'
Critics say that Giessler didn't think through the design properly. 'I really don't believe that converting an old Coke dispenser into an ATM was very wise,' said one UK-based vending machine engineer. 'They've not even painted over where the old Sprite labels used to be.'
'Not very wise?' exclaimed a colleague, 'It's a pile of shite! I realise it already contained the smelting furnace and refinery equipment needed to create Coca-Cola's famous cocaine-based recipe, but the selector mechanism and dispensing chute are well-known trouble areas, though the product will usually drop if you give it a little sheikh.'