ATMs are small machines with big jobs, allowing consumers to acquire money in a variety of locations — even during non-bank hours. They also give businesses a way to enable their customers to pay for goods and services, and provide the owners of the ATMs themselves with a constant stream of transaction fees. However, since ATMs work with money, there’s never really a good time for them to break.

ATM technician Brad Marsoobian works to ensure that ATMs at gas stations, hotels and casinos across Northern California function correctly and, in their own way, keep the economy humming. Marsoobian, who both owns and works as a certified technician for Superior ATM Services, took a few minutes while on the road between service calls to chat with Field Service Digital about what it takes to keep these machines in working order.

The Service Tech

A longtime resident of California’s Central Valley, Marsoobian more or less stumbled into a career as an ATM tech. In the mid-’90s, Marsoobian was managing a health club in Fresno, Calif. His brother, who’d fallen into ATM work, needed help servicing the machines when a casino client expanded from six to 16 ATMs. Ultimately, Marsoobian’s brother decided he no longer wanted to do service, so he decided to handle sales and recruited Brad to take over the service side of the business.

Brad’s been servicing ATMs in hotels, casinos, convenience stores, bars — essentially every type of ATM except in banks, which are maintained either by the banks directly or through their contractors — ever since. Marsoobian and six other technicians cover the entirety of California, working out of offices in San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento and Eureka, servicing more than 10,000 machines when they go down — which isn’t that often.

The Job

The modern ATM is basically plug-and-play, Marsoobian says, and rarely requires service. He estimates that he handles three to four service calls per day. That number has dropped recently, as ATM owners increasingly troubleshoot the problems themselves — from paper jams to broken money dispensers — before phoning the distributor to request service. Marsoobian operates primarily as a third party contractor with the distributors, who get in touch with Marsoobian when one of their clients’ machines goes on the fritz.

The most common problems include:

  • Faulty dispenser
  • Worn out card reader
  • Broken keypad

Most of Marsoobian’s time is spent fixing smaller problems that the ATM owners either don’t want to take the time to fix or can’t figure out how to fix. However, since the majority of Marsoobian’s business comes from distributors, customers always come first. “It’s important to make sure their customers are taken care of like they’re our own. If we don’t do that, then we don’t have a business anymore,” says Marsoobian.

And, no, ATM technicians don’t have access to the cash inside the machines. The machines are essentially safes and simply don’t malfunction. “You wish you’d be able to deinstall an ATM, take it back to your location and say, ‘Look, I found $20,000,’ but it never happens,” says Marsoobian.

Besides, most machines are stocked with just enough money ($300-$400) to get them though a typical day.

An ATM Tech’s Toolbox

The instruments Marsoobian uses to perform his job include:

  • Voltmeter to troubleshoot an ATM’s electrical system
  • Hammer drill to “install the ATM machines so they don’t walk away”
  • Sawzall as a bolt cutter to remove the machines when they need to be taken offsite for service

Otherwise, a wrench, screw driver and some familiarity with the machines are all that’s required.

Technical Training Required

Marsoobian took a three-day course at Triton, an established ATM manufacturer, back when there were only a handful of companies making the machines. These days, Marsoobian is certified to service most ATM models, including Cardtronics, Solvport, International Merchant Services, TRM/efunds, Automated Financial, ATM Merchant Systems, and Cypress Advantage, just to name a few.

King of the Road

Marsoobian drives a 2003 Chevy Avalanche with about 335,000 miles on the original engine, averaging about 200 miles every day as he shuffles from one call to the next all over Northern California. His trick to staying alert during the long hours on the road? Simple: Marsoobian’s always on his phone, either with an employee in the back office who helps manage all inbound calls and work orders, helping his technicians troubleshoot problems or with distributors curious about the status of their repairs. Marsoobian said he averages about 7,000-8,000 minutes per month on his mobile phone plan.