Janet (j4) wrote,


Just had the most maddening conversation ever with Alliance & Leicester's internet banking helpdesk. Notes here mostly for my own benefit because I'll write them up into a proper complaint before moving to a different bank.

While trying to make a one-off payment online, I got the following error:
Microsoft VBScript runtime error '800a000d'

Type mismatch: 'CInt'

E:\INETPUB\WWWROOT\IBREBUILD\MOVE_MONEY\../includes/validation.asp, line 191
So I phoned the internet banking helpdesk and told them that I had tried to make a payment online but halfway through the process had had "a VBScript runtime error". The man I spoke to immediately said "that's your software, that's nothing to do with us". I said (trying to be polite) that I didn't think it was my software, that I was using Safari; he just repeated insistently and dismissively that it was the way my software was set up. Suspecting that this might be a default we-don't-support-Macs position, I said "Are you saying that I can't use Safari for internet banking?" and he said no, it was a software problem. (I don't think he had a clue what 'Safari' was, to be honest.) I insisted that the problem was with their site, not with my software.

He then asked me to go through the steps I'd gone through before to get to the error, so that he could watch what was happening; I started to do this, telling him what I was doing at each stage (though at every step he interrupted what I was saying to tell me what to do). When I got to the point of selecting an account, I realised that what I'd done the previous time was to select the Premier Direct Account (the default in the drop-down menu -- it's some kind of useless savings account that I can't make payments out of) instead of the Current Account. I said that I'd realised that I'd done the wrong thing before, but offered to retrace my steps so that he could debug the error. He said no, and said that so long as I could do what I wanted now, that was the main thing. I said that that was one of the main things, but that surely it would be useful to see why such a bad error was coming up, and pointed out that my confidence in their internet banking was not helped by such an appalling failure mode. At this point he started being extremely patronising and tried to explain to me that "if it doesn't like the things you put in, then you get an error, that's how it works". I pointed out that I'm a professional web developer and I understand about bad user input, but I also understand about sensible validation of user input, proper error handling, and user-friendly error messages. He did reluctantly conceded that the error message could be "a bit more user friendly" but otherwise insisted that my computer and my software were the problem; he also rarely let me finish anything I tried to say, at one point interrupting me with "We use computers here, Mrs Knight" (he got my name wrong several times during the conversation).

Trying to end the conversation before I got any more angry, I asked if there was a way that I could submit a full bug report; he said that the email address was on the website, and gave me directions to where to find it. (Following those directions in fact leads not to an email address, nor even a link to a form, but to a brief instruction on how to send a secure message when you're logged in to internet banking.)

Perhaps a new New Year's Resolution (no, I haven't forgotten, but I haven't done them yet either) should be to find a bank whose internet banking isn't shit. :-/ Any recommendations?
Tags: bankers, fail, idiots, stupid
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