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UI madness

2009-01-22 02:18:55.13493+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

Argh. So we're mostly happy with our new credit union. So far, unlike Wells Fargo, they haven't screwed our account's database records into something that makes a pretzel look circular. They have online automated bill payment. They manage to keep our separate accounts properly. They've dealt with various issues quickly and simply without making me feel like security is being compromised.

But they outsource the online bill payment stuff to some other organization, it happens in a pop-up window, with a bizarre interface that involves completely different mechanisms for scheduling a single payment versus recurring payments, and JavaScript to make clicks on radio buttons into actions, and everything happens at a geologic time scale.

Sigh. What is it about financial institutions that tends to make their web sites suck?

[ related topics: Invention and Design Databases ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-22 13:52:59.733055+00 by: Larry Burton

I don't know. Really, I don't, this is speculation, but could it have something to do with your credit union still using the base COBOL applications to run their business and have cobbled on interface after interface to make this all work?

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-22 14:11:17.686173+00 by: m

As bad as financial institution web sites are, utilities seem to have the worst sites of all.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-22 14:20:41.190254+00 by: other_todd

Credit unions, even big ones, tend to be much smaller than the average bank and backwards about this whole web stuff. Outsourcing their web tech creates one set of problems, as you've seen, but frankly, I've dealt with two that tried to do it themselves and it was worse. One of the reasons I eventually stopped using MIT's credit union was that their online-banking setup was just plain broken - broken in a way that left it rather insecure, to boot.

Harvard's credit union has a great site. I don't know how they managed it.

Vanguard has one of the best (and most paranoid) sites I've ever seen in any sort of banking or financial institution. I wish others would use it as a model. My only complaints with it is that sometimes I don't speak the same language they do - I don't think of putting more money in my IRA as "buying more shares," but that's what I have to look for when I put more cash in. And so forth.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-22 14:32:20.184593+00 by: Dan Lyke

Todd, all of the reason we left Wells Fargo was that in trying to deal with the fact that I have an EIN and an SSN, they had hosed some internal referential integrity that left their web site saying "service unavailable" any time I tried to log in.

Larry, it might be, but that doesn't explain how bad the interface design is. Maybe that's what the Cobol programmers who were used to writing to 3270 terminals did after the Y2K boom, started writing web apps with interfaces that might have been acceptable in the '60s.

M, yeah, that's a pissing match I won't get into. We get paper from PG&E, and that's just fine.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-22 19:52:53.368344+00 by: andylyke

It's amazing how long the monopoly mentality stays around, even after "deregulation". My (least) favorite example of utility incompetence is AT&T. Last year, I spent 2 hours on the phone just trying to get them to disconnect my service (then to stop billing me, once the disconnection had happened. It's not just their web sites, it's the utility monopoly mindset.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-22 23:27:27.62358+00 by: Dan Lyke

Don't get me started on AT&T... Especially now that their customer records are strewn across umpteen different companies and back up. I believe we have at least three different customer records with them, one for internet, one for land line, which shares hardware with the internet, and one for cell phone, and it's a hassle and a pain in the tuchus to figure out how we should be logging in for each of those.

We've talked with a rep about consolidating accounts, and billing, but any of the bundles that'd move that stuff to one account would end up costing us several hundred bucks a year more.