George Bernard Shaw once said: “Progress is impossible without change…” GBS obviously never had to work with computers and IT. I am sure all of you have had to deal with, at some point in your careers, a message from IT department instructing you to exit all your apps, programs, etc and turn off your computer before you leave so that an upgraded email/OS/security/etc UPGRADE can be installed over the weekend. Or, on your personal computer/smartphone/tablet you have gotten a notice that an upgrade was available.
Dictionary.com defines the word as follows:
UPGRADE: [n. uhp-greyd; adj., adv. uhp-greyd; v. uhp-greyd,
1: an increase or improvement:
An upgrade in the year’s profit forecast.
2: a new version, improved model, etc.:
The company is offering an upgrade of its sports sedan.
3: an increase or improvement in one’s service, accommodations, privileges, or the like:
If the ship isn’t full we’ll receive an upgrade to a deluxe stateroom.
4: something, as a piece of equipment, that serves to improve or enhance:
A full range of upgrades available for your computer.
Unfortunately, the truth is often diametrically opposed to these statements. Let me share with you this most painful experience.
About a month ago I received this email notice from the bank where I have had a personal checking account for over 35 years (I am removing all bank identification):
Dear Valued Customer,
This week, as part of our efforts to make your banking experience better, we will be making changes to our Online and Mobile Banking Services. The result of these changes will be a more user-friendly and customizable experience with Online and Mobile Banking.
During the switch-over to our new Online and Mobile Banking platform, there will be interruptions to your Online and Mobile Banking Services. Recently, you should have received a letter in the mail containing details on service interruptions and information about changes, effective November 17, 2014, to your Username and Password. Please click here to review this important information.
We are confident that you will be satisfied with the changes and new features we are adding to our Online and Mobile Banking services, and we thank you in advance for your patience. Your business is valuable to us, and we look forward to continuing to serve your financial needs.
This checking account up to this point had operated beautifully – ebills, bill/pay, deposit/withdrawals and transfers were intuitive and there had never been an issue. The bank had also provided what I considered to be a sufficient layer of security – enough to avoid breaches without being cumbersome as regards to passwords and security questions. This was all about to change. Dutifully, before I logged out on that fateful Friday – I made a quick review to make sure that all was ready – those who know me understand that my OCD compels me to set up payment as soon as a bill is received – so that even if a few bugs occurred on Monday morning there was still adequate time for them to be ironed out before due dates for new bills got close. All was ready.
Now for the pain.
I figured that Monday morning might be a little hectic with other customers calling the bank to help them through any glitches, so I waited until mid-afternoon to log on as I feel I am fairly computer literate and could walk through most new instructions without assistance. The home page looked the same so I clicked on “login” put in my id upon the prompt, and then got this:
Okay, this is not bad – previously when setting up my mobile app for this account, I had prompted the site to send me a text on my iPhone, so now I clicked on the “Continue with Security Code” button and waited for the text to arrive. It did not and my screen now said this:
Still undaunted, I figured that since the system was upgraded I might have to reenter my phone number again – so onto option 2: “Phone not available? You can answer verification questions.” Once again, I was met with an “unable to process your request at this time” message but this one included a phone number to call if there was a problem. This is good, I think, that the bank is anticipating some bugs and immediately call the number – and my ears are assailed with this:
“We are experiencing call volume much greater than normal and wait times may be extremely long. So that you are not kept on hold for an inordinate amount of time this call will be concluded at the end of this message. Please try again later.”
Now I am starting to get agita and my brain goes into automatic fight mode – no automated voice is going to disconnect me at its discretion! I begin an onslaught of auto-redials. A few times I actually get onto the wait list, forced to listen to awful canned music for a while before getting disconnected.
There are obviously a slew of irate customers experiencing the same frustration as I causing the bank phone system to implode. I do not give up but go onto strategy number two: email. Here is what transpired next:
My email on Monday
Spent an entire day trying to get a person on the phone to fix inability to access my own account that I have never had issues with until today. I have bills that must be paid and it is frustrating not being able to access my own monies – and as of tonight I still do not have access.
Bank response on Tuesday morning
Dear Cindy Gurmann,
We apologize for any inconvenience you experienced as a result of our Online Banking upgrade. Please be advised that we have unlocked your password.
When logging into Online Banking, please use the following login credentials:
Username: Use your existing User ID but all Lowercase.
Password: Your initial password will be the Last Six (6) digits of your Social Security Number. You will then be prompted to change your password.
Your new password should be 8 to 12 characters and must contain at least 1 letter and 1 number.
Please remember that you must log into the new Online Banking system before logging into our mobile App.
Thank you for choosing xxx Bank.
My immediate response
This is exactly what the online sign-in was yesterday and it did not let me access my account – I have been using this online checking since its inception and I must be able to get into it to pay bills – I am not happy.
Bank response on Tuesday
Dear Cindy Gurmann,
Would you be so kind as to provide us with a contact number so that we may speak with you regarding your log in issues?
Your account is currently unlocked, so we would like to troubleshoot your issues.
Mollified somewhat, I sent my phone number and within a reasonable amount of time, a bank rep called. Now multiple rounds of increasingly frustrating and infuriating conversations with various reps ensued. To summarize:
* The account was inexplicably set up with my ex-husband’s name. This despite the fact that online checking didn’t even exist for the short time that he had used the checking account. When we split, I got custody and when online banking was created, I applied with my personal credentials. In addition, tax info on the checking account has always come to my address (where my ex never lived).
* My social security number was input as belonging to my ex – clearly making it impossible to verify identity.
* I was advised to create a new account – which was ludicrous since I would then lose all the ebill, bill/pay and transfer information on over three dozen businesses (credit cards, medical companies, other banking, etc).
*I was advised to go to my local branch – which doesn’t exist; all my dealings have been online – which was the original purpose. Then another rep told me that wasn’t necessary. A promise was made for one final call for resolution. Then silence.
My email responses on Wednesday
There is still no resolution to this issue please call me tomorrow at xxx-xxx-xxxx
And on Thursday
NEED SOMEONE TO ATTEND TO THIS PROBLEM AND FIX IT – I AM GETTING NOTICES OF BILLS THAT MUST BE PAID IMMEDIATELY.
This was not actually true – but was used for effect. I had also started a twitter campaign at the very beginning of this debacle – here are a few tweets:
@xxxBank I have been trying since 9A to get access to online acct and bank phone keeps disconnecting me – very frustrating
@xxxBank it has been almost a week that I cannot access my online checking after an “upgrade” this is ridiculous
Finally I got the attention of the Bank Manager of the main New York Branch who called me directly. With a simultaneous connection to the bank’s IT group we started the process of creating a work-around. Fortunately my ex and I are very friendly so I got him on another line for help with some historical data.
Voila! – access was attained – with all inputs intact.
PS – As soon as the holidays are over I will visit that main branch – to close out the account. Revenge is a dish best served cold – but sweet nonetheless.