Simple, Convenient, Online Banking

I have been with the same bank for over forty-three years. During that time it has changed its name, but still has branches everywhere. However, since the Covid-19 problems, my local branch in the nearby town of Dereham has significantly reduced its opening hours. It now closes at 2pm every day, which makes it inconvenient for me.

In 2002, I bought my first laptop. Not long after, Julie set up Internet Banking on it for me. But I didn’t use it, as I could not bring myself to trust online dealing with my hard-earned money. Up until this very day, I still write cheques to pay bills, and if I have a banking issue, I go into the branch to sort it out face to face.

But cheques are going. Most banks intend to withdraw them from use soon, and with branch closures beginning in earnest, my local bank in Dereham may well face the axe in 2021. As the saying goes, history has caught up with me, and I will have to bank online to stay ‘relevant’ by the end of next year.

So yesterday evening, I logged on to that eighteen year-old account. Well, tried to log on of course, but was unable to. My previous numerical security code was no longer active, so I got a screen telling me to call a customer service telephone number. After ten minutes on hold, I was answered by someone from an Indian call centre. The man spoke very good English, but his voice was quiet. He also had a way of sounding a ‘W’ like a ‘V’, and a ‘V’ like a ‘W’ which made some of his conversation hard to grasp.

When I explained the situation, he was sure he could help me very quickly. I had to download an App onto my mobile phone he told me. I answered that I did not want to use my phone for banking. For one thing the screen, large as it is, is too small for me to use for that kind of detail. And for another, I might lose the phone or have it stolen. I wanted to use the tower PC in my office, with its TV-screen size monitor.

But no, I couldn’t do that until I had the App first, which must be downloaded onto my phone.

(You might want to make a hot drink at this point, and sit in a comfy chair…)

Once the App was on the phone, I had to close it, then open it again. With the man on the phone prompting me, I started to complete the new user registration process.

1) Invent a username. Don’t write it down, just remember it. (Yeah right, like that’s going to happen)
2) Create a security number that must be 6 numbers, with no doubles and no running sequence. It must not include numbers from your cash card PIN number, or any of your date of birth. (Did that, and wrote it down, just as I had the username)
3) Create a Security Key. (?) Apparently, that’s like a password, and has to have numbers and letters, but no more than six in total. (Did that, and of course wrote it down)
4) Memorable Questions. I had to choose three answers. One for a TV character, one for an ideal holiday destination, and another for a famous historical figure.
(They all went in my notebook too of course)

Once I had entered every answer twice to confirm, the App was ‘live’.

But all that was only the start. By now I had half a page of my notebook full of security codes and passwords that I wasn’t supposed to write down. Then the man told me I had to close the App, and log in on my PC using all the same answers.

Before I could do that, the bank had to send a ‘One time only’ numerical security code to my mobile phone which had to be entered in yet another box on my PC screen. With that in place, it opened the Internet banking facility, and asked me to complete everything I had just done on the phone again.

My patience was wearing thin. The man in India told me it was only because I was a first time user, and after that I would only need my security number. (In case you are as confused as I was, that’s (2) in the list above.)

Trying to stop myself swearing at the man, as I knew he was only doing his job, I entered everything carefully, checking all the details I had written in the notebook. (Could anyone really remember all that stuff after twenty minutes? If so, you’re a genius!) I pressed the box marked ‘Continue’ and breathed a sigh of relief.

Until the box turned red, and this warning appeared.

‘One of the three required fields has been entered incorrectly. Please try again’. But it didn’t tell me which one of course.

I had to exit the page on the PC, and start again. By now, I had been on the phone for forty-one minutes, and my stress levels were in the stratosphere. Five minutes later, I had done it all again, and got the red box again. This time it had a different warning message.

‘You have now entered one of the required fields incorrectly for the third time, and can no longer use this online facility’.

I told the man what it said, and asked him what the next move is. He thought for a moment. “You did use all block capitals, didn’t you sir?” Of course I hadn’t. Why would I? I told him that. So all those ‘errors’ were because I hadn’t typed everything in caps, and hadn’t been told to do that either by prompts on the screen, or by him.

Still talking quietly, and annoyingly switching his ‘W’ for ‘V’, and Wice-Werca, he came up with a great idea.

“You could go into your local branch when it is open, Mr Johnson. They should be able to reset your online account”.

I now have to go in before 2pm on Monday, and hope that the branch has not been closed down for good over the weekend.

So much for the ‘Simple, convenient, online banking’. (Their advertising)

104 thoughts on “Simple, Convenient, Online Banking

  1. It’s such an interesting generational thing because the thought of having to go into a branch in person fills me with dread. Then again my bank doesn’t, and never has had bank branches. It also lets me log in to the app with my fingerprint… so no passwords or anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And he never told you to type everything in capital letters? Shame on him. Pete, Hubby and I seem to be having similar scenarios. The layers of passwords is mind boggling. If we didn’t write it down… well, you know. Phone conversations make it even more complicated. Misery loves company, and I’m the company.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I opened my account with the Midland Bank 52 years ago so I beat you on that one Pete. I refused telephone banking but decided to try Internet banking when they first offered it to me although I continued to use cheques too. You will be given a remote key when you go into your branch which will make it much easier. The Internet banking webpage is much less user friendly now because it is long and narrow designed for a mobile phone. I refuse to put it on my phone but on the computer you have to keep moving down the page to complete transactions.
    I had money in a certain Spanish based bank but when I wanted to buy a car they refused to pay the money to the garage. After having to go to the branch to discover why I discovered they had listed my birthday in the American order of figures!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the extra information, Lizanne. I’m not even sure I want to go into the bank to do all this again, only for it not to work for some reason the next day. I am ‘taking time’ to think it over.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved this, and just as I’m dealing with an issue with my email account – telling me my password is incorrect – how can that be when I have it written down! And the inevitable OTP to verify, then entering a new password etc. etc. I know it’s all to protect my accounts but sometimes progress doesn’t feel like progress!
    Angie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Angie. For the last 50 years, most of the ‘progress’ has just seemed to me to actually be a means of controlling people and their activities. Some days, I feel one of the characters in the film ‘The Matrix’.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “For the last 50 years, most of the ‘progress’ has just seemed to me to actually be a means of controlling people and their activities”

        I wonder if people thought along the same lines when they were “forced” to start using cheques? Cash must have felt so much more convenient at the time, especially as many people (especially the elderly, I guess) couldn’t read or write.

        I have distinct memories of the ructions at work when people were forced to give up being paid in cash, and when they were forced to change from being paid weekly to monthly.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I remember that resistance to being paid into the bank too. (I also remember ‘pay parade’ in the LAS, having to go to the old Fulham Station to receive your brown pay envelope, and being asked to check the contents in front of the station officer. 🙂 )
          But it is undeniable that it made so many organisations able to monitor your spending habits and financial activities. Whether that’s a good thing or not is a matter of opnion of course.
          Cheers, Pete.

          Like

  5. This post made me smile…sorry, Pete. Been there and no I don’t remember my pwds I have notebooks for them ALL…online banking here is much better than anywhere more advanced and easier…I still have to deal with my Uk bank, however …online of course due to timelines and I can’t pop into the branch if indeed it was still there…They now have voice recognition..really!…Oh Yes…and send you a number to access your account…Then the automated service tells you it is wrong..3 times the other day and I was thinking…hell no… I can’t get into the branch and then a miracle happened it liked the 4th code…Fingers crossed it hasn’t asked me since (maybe) just maybe it was a one-off…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It must indeed be a nightmare to deal with a UK bank when you live so far away. I really resent the way that we are being ‘forced’ to use online banking, and mobile phones for banking too. There are still tens of thousands of people with no online access, as well as who knows how many very old people who have never used a computer. When all the ‘oldies’ are dead, I am sure every bank branch in the UK will close down permanently.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. They use the argument of ‘security’ to make us come up with numerous crazy passwords, then it all falls down on something as simple as whether or not to use block caps! It is so frustrating!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, I sympathise, Pete. I still have a branch in our town – it’s less than five minutes from where i live. Last year, every time I went in the same cashier went through her spiel about the convenience of online banking. Finally, I cracked because, for one thing, I was insulted she didn’t remember me from previous occasions. I told her if she asked me one more time I’d close my account and move elsewhere. She said she ‘had’ to ask customers and offer them the service. I said yes, I know, and when most people have moved to online banking the branch will close because of a lack of footfall.
    When I bought my car I went in to make a BACS payment. A different cashier asked if I didn’t want to do online baking as it would be simpler because she had to ask lots of security questions. After going through all the questions (had I met the salesman face to face was one of them) I asked if with online banking I could have just made the payment without all the fuss. She admitted that if I tried to do it online I’d be asked for different passwords and still have to tick boxes that I understood all the security around fraud. I will not do online banking. I think I’d take my money and put it under the mattress first.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Mary. After my hour on the phone, I am feeling much the same way. I had a similar conversation in the branch earlier this year. The lady said “Why don’t you switch to banking online?” I replied, “I am hoping to help keep your job for you”. She smiled and replied, “Actually, I wouldn’t mind redundancy, I’ve been here a long time”.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The only check I write nowadays is for the Homeowners Association (HOA), which I hand deliver. I pay everything else online. I’ve never had to use a mobile phone to set up an online account. Amazon set up a two-step verification process rather recently, but one of the available options, since I don’t have a mobile phone, is tor them to call me on a LAN line with a recorded voice that provides the code number. I do all of my banking online, and rarely have to physically visit one of the local branches because it’s rare that I receive cash or a check from anyone. Direct deposit is the order of the day. And, of course, any money received via PayPal can be sent directly to one’s bank account as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh I have so much sympathy, I really do! I have recently had to retrieve my money from a certain savings bank in the U.K. which operates without having any branches at all. I am currently living out here in the US. My telephone number had changed … I now have a US phone number. In total it took 5 weeks (they had to post everything) and approximately seven and a half hours of phone call time on my husband’s phone as I can’t call the U.K. from mine. And each and every time I was put on hold, or was waiting for them to answer the phone (which took up to one hour!) as well as the wretched music, there was a message repeated every few minutes saying that aggressive or threatening behaviour would not be tolerated. I wonder why?! During one call I had a ridiculously obtuse woman refusing to allow me to speak to her supervisor unless I went through a complaint process with her (which, had I done it would have actually been about her!). By the end of that particular call I was in tears and promptly removed all my money and closed the account. Arghhhhh …. I feel your pain. And breathe … Katie

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I don’t blame you for considering it … my parents-in-law have had a nightmare recently with bank fraud and the bank in question were utterly hopeless, useless. My father-in-law was so stressed and angry about it. They eventually got all the money back, (40k) and then two months later the fraudsters who clearly have not been caught, have somehow managed to put two lots of 5k back INTO the account! My father-in-law has been into the bank and explained all this, and the bank just don’t care! As the source cannot be traced, they said he can spend it. Quite extraordinary the whole thing and quite how/why money was put into their account nobody knows except there is the assumption that the fraudsters have made a mistake somewhere in their dirty doings!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadly, it seems like Pete is anticipating his physical bank location closing down, which will force him to go online to get his finances done…I always wonder what happens when there is a power outage…we are all SO dependent on computers and online shrives!

        Liked by 1 person

              1. I remember waiting for photos to download and email disconnecting before we got the speed-up here. If we ever had to go back to those speeds, I doubt I would bother with anything except text.

                Like

  9. Unfortunately, the branch network of banks has been reduced a lot in recent years. And thanks to Covid-19, the number of branches will be even fewer.
    I can understand your fear that your branch will also be closed. It usually starts with reduced times.

    I hope that online banking can be set up in your branch and that you can then work with it in the future. And as the others already wrote, when it is set up, it is quite easy to use.

    Best wishes and greetings from Northern Germany, Irene

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We’ve been using a completely online bank here (Chime), for the last few years. For the most part it’s been a positive experience: easy to set up, direct deposits go in 2-3 days early, no fees. But there’s been a few times they’ve gone down and customers lost access to their accounts. It’s usually only for a couple of hours, but last year they crashed for a few days. Because of this, we opened up an account at a local bank so we have money regardless.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sorry to hear/read about your problems. I can understand your reluctance to use your cellphone for online banking. I’m the same. But I’ve been using my computer – laptop included – for ages now, and I’m not only completely satisfied with the ease, but also totally dependent on it as it would be quite a long way to my local bank branch in Bonn from here in Fredericksburg. Yes, even after having moved to the US in 2008, I still keep my German bank account, most of all because my retirement money goes into it. It would cost way too much money in the form of bank fees to have it sent directly into a bank account here. And I still have bills to pay in Germany once in a while, and I can do that absolutely easily online. As for security: the bank’s system of TAN numbers sent to my computer’s screen and read by a special device is only my first step. I also have special banking-security software that comes on automatically for each and every financial transaction from my computers, and, if necessary, I can install a VPN connection with just one click. I agree, it looks like an awful lot of technical gobbledygook, but I find it easy.
    I hope your problems will be solved quickly at your local bank. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Pit. My wife has used it for years too, though with a different bank. She only has to put in a random selection from her security number, and it opens up on her phone instantly. If my local branch tell me to go online again, I have a feeling I will just abandon Internet banking as an idea.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I feel your pain, old buddy. Sounds more complex than anything I can think of here though. I agree about screen size and I refuse to have a smart phone for just that reason. I’ve been using the PC for banking for years.. and it’s been just fine. But I am feeling the pressure of more and more things pushing me toward a smart phone. But you are not alone in your preference for face-to-face or a real voice on the other end of the phone. My GF is CONSTANTLY lamenting about being forced to use technology for simple things. She does not use online banking for exactly the reasons you describe. She’s most definitely trapped in the 70’s and 80’s in her technology mindset.
    As for these foreign call centers.. if I can’t understand them I just get rude… “Are you from goddamn Pakistan?? Would you please find me a person who can communicate in the King’s English, please!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am never rude to the call-centre people. It’s a horrible job, and I wouldn’t want to do it. But yesterday when I concluded the call, I did say “That was a complete waste of almost an hour of my life”. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  13. Call centre staff can be really frustrating.

    I’ve been doing my banking online for nearly 20 years, now, and I find it so much easier. It must be 15 years or more since I had a chequebook, as well (and that had only two cheques used up).

    I currently do a weekly online shop for my elderly parents down in Wales and they send me a cheque every month to pay for it. I scan it with my phone, and it’s in my account by 0900 next working day.

    Setting up an account with Monzo or Starling takes minutes, and there’s no need to call anyone, ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, Ian. Everything that went wrong was blamed on me being a ‘first-time user’. I told him that everyone is a first time user the first time. Then to find out it was all down to not typing in block capitals made me feel as if I was in an alternative comedy sketch.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

        1. I was told that if I didn’t download the phone app, I couldn’t bank online at all. I told the man I didn’t believe him, and he read out a load of gubbins about apps and agreements. This is the HSBC bank, which has been trouble-free for me since it was called Midland Bank in the 1970s.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I won’t use any banking / shopping apps on my phone either. Too easy to lose a phone. I do all the banking stuff, but I should actually show the OH how to use the accounts. I’m sure he never logs in to check them.

          Liked by 2 people

              1. It wasn’t down to that, doesn’t matter if you’re on a PC, phone or just going into a bank for your dosh, the whole system is digitised THEIR end, wether you use it or not, not everyone who works in a bank is honest Joe.

                Liked by 1 person

  14. I guess …. feel lucky you have a bit of money left in the bank. Many don’t.
    We have had to call to make an appt. to do any serious business. Sometimes you want something in your safety box – pronto. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  15. These things can be so, so, frustrating. Luckily, I was able to set up online banking for a laptop a few years back and, generally speaking, it works fine. I have a little keypad provided by the bank which I use to get an 8-digit security code generated from the chip in my debit card, to enable me to log in. What does annoy me is that it is rarely possible to communicate with the bank by email, for ‘security’ reasons, and I am somewhat phone-phobic; also, like you, I really don’t want to do this stuff on my phone, which is so old that its whiskers are nearly as long & grey as mine 😉 It’s not difficult to start feeling out of phase with the modern world! Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I enrolled all my utilities online when I left the bank twenty years ago so it is easy for me to pay bills. I don’t need much cash either since I use my credit card then pay online too. I only need cash when food is delivered here and it has to be COD.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I recently opened a Revolut account on my phone, which gives me a UK account even though I don’t live there and I can switch between currencies easily with real time exchange rates which is all commission free up to a limit…..sorry not an advert for them.
    But what amazed me about this account is that I opened it by taking a picture of my passport, that was it. No phone calls, very few forms other than filling in my address details and entering a few confirmation codes.
    I feel for you Pete, these things really can be easy, I just think the banks make them difficult sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What if someone had stolen your passport? 🙂
      These ‘registration’ screens seem to get more complicated every year. They say it is for my ‘security’, but if I can’t register in the first place, I don’t need any security!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I have been using online banking and online accounts for decades. I bank with First Direct who have never had branches, but who do have a very quick UK telephone customer service (always sound like Geordies to me) who are extremely friendly and helpful. I have a username, a password and a little gizmo that I need to use to get a security code every time I log in. You’ll get used to it!
    But your guy on the phone should have been able to clear / unlock your account.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always dread contact with call centres, Jude. They seem to presume that I already have some level of skill with phones and computers. If I did have that, I probably wouldn’t be on the phone to them in the first place.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Like

      1. First Direct aren’t like that, but I have come across other companies that are. Poor customer training. Then again I was head of a support centre in the NHS and had a lot of practice at being patient and unassuming. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I want to feel sorry for you, Pete! But I went through that many times in my own company when I started working from home permanently. So many times I had to rush my laptop to the closest branch that is 3-hour drive one way, just because it didn’t take my password. A lot of times, it had to be admitted overnight for a thorough examination and possible re-imaging, just because the bit-locker key wouldn’t open!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. As I’m housebound, physically unable to go into town to my branch of The Halifax, until a few months ago I used online banking with my previous laptop to this one. I’ve tried several times to access my bank account on this laptop only to get the Red Screen each time I try. As I don’t have a telephone, I’m knackered!
    By the sound of it, the last thing I need is an encounter with an Indian call centre. As a consequence I have no idea how much money is in my account!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. To be fair it is simple and convenient when you’ve set it up, but it can be a nightmare to do that. A lot of people are being left behind in the march of technology

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I seem to always be one of those left behind, Sarada. I hate technology more and more with each passing year. Why doesn’t it just say “In Block Capitals’ above every box?
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

All comments welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.