Tuesday, 5 February 2013

What does "banker" rhyme with? Or why internet banking makes me homicidal

Random number allocation fail
The other day, I switched bank accounts. Does a story that begins this way ever have a happy ending? Or is it a tortuous and painful journey through paperwork blizzards, endless not-so-random PIN allocations and general frustration, accompanied by a lurking feeling that everyone else manages this just fine and you must be all toddler in the head if you can't do it without veins standing out on your neck?

Because that's it, isn't it? Something that's explained to you in the bank as being THE most simple thing that ever happened - "tell your employer these 14 different digits so they can pay you into the right place, then the companies who already take copious sums of money from you will automatically ask for that money from the same 14 digits. We'll make it all seamless for you, just go and have an ice cream or something" - actually turns out to be one of the most aggravating things you'll ever do (and I speak as somebody who has been to Legoland).

So what does happen?

First, you fall for the "we'll make it really simple, all your Direct Debits will be transferred automatically" patter.

Then you sign your life away, they hand you a sheaf of leaflets (or "sheaflet", if you like. You don't like? What's wrong with you?), and you go on your merry way, waiting for everything to happen as-if-by-magic.

What actually happens next is you get 48 million texts from debt management shysters, because the bank has seemingly sold your mobile number on (special circle of hell for them, along with the accident claims ambulance chasers), the disingenuous cocksplats.

And then you get an avalanche of paperwork through the door, including:

  • the credit card you didn't really want, but said yes to because they wouldn't shut up otherwise
  • the PIN for said credit card (not PIN number, because that makes it Personal Identification Number number, and only a dickhead says that)
  • telephone banking PIN and instructions (so you can ring an automated robot voice to check your balance, which will be dick-all, because they've fucked up your account)
  • debit card
  • card reader for your debit card (because Just A Password isn't secure enough in these days of fraudulent tomfoolery and other such japes)
But no PIN for your debit card, so you can't actually log in to your internet banking.  And they don't transfer the Direct Debits within ten days either.  But you can't log in to check what they have or haven't done.  Because you don't have a PIN.  Still, at least fraudsters can't get into your account.  BUT NOR CAN YOU.

Oh, and the PIN they sent for the credit card?  Photograph above.  Yes, genuinely.  And of course I've changed it, but FGS, in these days of needing a card reader, a PIN, to run widdershins round the country from Land's End to John O'Groats then play and win three games of hopscotch with Satan to log in to your own account, surely they can at least randomise a PIN they're sending through the post?

I do feel somewhat guilty, Martin Lewis, of course I do - I should be better at this shit.  But no bloody wonder people don't bother transferring their bank accounts more often. It's not inertia, it's fear of the jail terms for murder.

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