Wednesday, January 23, 2008

ABBEY - Oh No, Not Again!

I have been on about this before, but some problems just don’t seem to go away. Abbey, my UK bank, introduced a new computer system last year, and you understand straight away where this is going, don’t you? If there is one foolproof way of effing something up, it surely has to be to start using a new system before it has been properly tested. I know their old system was hopelessly old, but it worked!

Not only do the programmers have to build a robust application, but the existing database has to be transferred safely, and then staff need training. I know all of that; a lot of experience, skill and effort need to go into this mammoth task. And who suffers if it doesn’t work? The customers do. I am one of those.

The first time I noticed something odd was when there was a discrepancy between the printed and the online statement. Secondly the overdraft on one account just disappeared; the new system had changed our address for that account and consequently sent statements to the wrong address. That in turn resulted in a “return-to-sender”; they thought something was afoot and withdrew the overdraft facility. The system did not pick up the difference in addresses for our six accounts. Huh?

Later in the autumn when I had to cancel bank cards and internet banking details due to a theft, the real “fun” started. The cards took forever to be delivered, twice they failed in their attempts to deliver the two separate, secret pieces of information so I can start internet banking again. To make things worse, in order to communicate my frustration, I always have to make a phone call to the UK, often being on hold for absolute ages!

The list is long. In December I rang to ask them to send me new internet banking details, to transfer money between accounts and also to pay a credit card bill, all of which resulted in the money being transferred, but the credit card bill not being paid and no internet banking details as yet. I realised it had gone wrong when I had the next credit card statement, and at the same time getting a partly wrongly-addressed letter saying there had been a problem. Houston or what?! A new phone call corrected a few of the mistakes, but I was advised to wait just a little longer for the internet banking details, since they might have been delayed due to the Christmas Holiday. Dodgy software, sloppy staff, bad management….? I don’t know. I only know that I have to make that phone call again and ask them to send the internet banking details for the third time. Wish me luck, I need it!


Lynda said...

This gives me hope.. we have been trying to arrange our bank account here in Cairo for over a month now... they take my money, but NO CARD - NO INTERNET ACCESS.. they want a minimum of 2 phone bills (but in Cairo the phone bills have to stay in the name of the landlord.. and we have only been in the apartment for 1 month and the phone line does not call mobiles or overseas... so is no use to us...) nightmare - almost makes me feel better that it still happens in a so called 'developed' country like the UK!

swenglishexpat said...

Lynda, so maybe we all should go back to sticking the money under the mattress and communicate via carrier-pigeon? ;-)

Eric Valentine said...

Wow Swen, I can't believe that somehow I missed this post of yours.... I'll blame it on your bank guys for messing up!..

Seriously, from what I read in your dealings with online transactions, that just reaffirms my fears of doing any internet business.

If they want my information & money, give me a phone # & I will talk with them till I am blue in the face without worry. ~ I guess I just plain don't trust the system regardless of any assurances my friend. :)

swenglishexpat said...

Eric, phone is fine, but for the fact that I have to make an international call every time!