Monthly Archive for March, 2007

I'll choose customer service over security any day

My local bank has implemented a new security feature that is making it impossible for me to keep my account there. If I forget to log out of my account their system doesn't just log me out, it locks me out. If I leave my machine idle for too long or if my computer goes to sleep
because I got a phone call while I was checking my balance, or if I simply close the browser window instead of logging out first, I am locked out. I have accounts with Vanguard, Smith Barney, Ameritrade, ING, AG
Edwards, not to mention all the credit card sites. Not one of them has
ever locked me out of my account because I didn't log out properly. But wait, it gets worse.

The only way I can regain online access is to call their help desk. The help desk doesn't know the business online banking system so they have to refer my call to one of only two people in the bank who do. One of those people is the primary business banking account manager who is usually out visiting a customer or otherwise engaged. So usually there's one person in the whole bank who can unlock my account. If she's having lunch or on the phone I am out of luck. And if it's after business hours, when I am most likely to be using my online access, I am, again, out of luck.

It was bad enough their system doesn't let me use my Mac (it requires Internet Explorer) but I happened to have a PC on my desk that I could use.

So why don't I just switch to another bank? Because this is my local bank that contributes generously to my community. I have my mortgage and all my personal accounts with them and I love knowing that my money is going to such things as the new arts center and dozens of other organizations and events they support. And I love being able to walk down the street to the local branch.

But sometimes I don't have time to take that walk or it's after banking hours. And that's when I need online access. Security that prevents you from conducting business isn't security, it's bad business.

Commercial Entertainment

I wonder if I'm one of the last people without a DVR but sometimes, like during the Academy Awards, the commericals are more entertaining than the program. One in particular had me wondering whether to cry or laugh.

This is the Day, a song from the The The album, Soul Mining, is the music for the latest M&Ms commercial and web site. After my initial anguish over yet another piece of my musical memory being sold out (thank god for Fugazi), I couldn't help laughing about the irony. The lyrics “this is the day your life is going to change” were unquestionably an anthem to teen angst, not a call to carpe diem. I just hope Matt Johnson is also laughing all the way to the bank. He deserves it because his 80s albums never got the credit they deserved and usually get left off 80s best-of compilations. Maybe this will spark a revival of interest.

Tonight I saw a Michelin commercial that begins with horn-honking, bumper-to-bumper traffic and pans over to the Michelin factory where the “road of tomorrow” is being created through better tires. It left me wondering how better tires (even if they are recyclable) are going to solve our gridlock problems. Someone needs to remind Michelin's ad agency that it's only “a better way forward” if you can actually move forward.




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