Banks run out of new notes less than an hour after opening
Customers left frustrated despite banks' measures
She queued at the POSB pop-up ATMs at Toa Payoh Community Centre for more than two hours on Monday to get new notes for Chinese New Year (CNY).
Ms Fiona Sim started at 8.30am, and by 10.30am, the line had more than 30 customers waiting for the ATMs to be replenished.
Ms Sim, 38, managed to get the notes.
She was one of the lucky ones as some others went away disappointed.
She told The New Paper: "I didn't expect it to take so long... It was a waste of time."
With less than a week to CNY, many are still scrambling to get the notes.
A POSB staff member was heard telling customers the money was usually replenished twice daily.
A frustrated customer who wanted to be known only as Mr Foo said: "I came here thrice and the pop-up ATMs were always out of new notes."
The 48-year-old added: "It is difficult for old folks to queue for two hours to wait for the cash to be topped up."
A DBS spokesman told TNP it introduced special priority queues for new notes for the elderly and those with special needs. This year, DBS increased the number of pop-up ATMs from 36 to 42.
DBS, OCBC and UOB also have online reservation services, where customers can reserve new notes.
A UOB spokesman said the number of online reservations for new notes made this year doubled from last year.
Still, customers at Toa Payoh Hub, where the three banks have branches, told TNP the banks have been running out of new notes just half an hour after opening, daily.
A UOB customer, a 67-year-old retiree who wanted to be known only as Madam Ho, said: "I queued for an hour from 10.30am but there were only $5 and $50 notes left."
Retiree Poh Joo Tuang, 69, went to OCBC just to get the red packets, as he did not have time to queue for new notes.
TNP understands one possible reason for the shortage of new notes this year is that there are three weekends leading up to CNY from the time the new notes were made available. There were typically only two weekends leading up to CNY previously.
OCBC's head of group brand and communications Koh Ching Ching told TNP: "We have limited stocks of new notes each day, but OCBC has a mobile banking app for customers to see the availability of new notes across the branches and get a queue number before heading there."
Some customers felt it was better this year, for instance a housewife who was at the DBS branch at Plaza Singapura.
Said the 60-year-old who wanted to be known only as Madam Tan: "I think there's a slight improvement because of the online reservation of notes. But these notes run out so quickly."
Nanyang Technological University psychology student, Lim Wei Shun, 22, would not mind getting old notes.
He told TNP: "It doesn't matter whether I get old or new notes in my red packet. It still serves its function, unless the note is torn."