Six months ago, on the recommendation of a (Chinese American) colleague at one of the management consultancies I occasionally write for, I switched to using the Bank of East Asia. I'm not sure what their ownership structure or history is, but they're headquartered in Hong Kong, and thus I fondly hoped that they might be a little more rational and a bit more customer-friendly than their mainland counterparts.
Perhaps they are a little, but not much. At least they have an English customer service hotline - which I am obliged to resort to rather too often.
The recommender had particularly praised their online banking service, and this had been the main reason for my adopting them. I used to get paid almost entirely cash-in-hand, but over the past year or two there has been a shift to most of my employers insisting on trying to make payments into a bank account for me. It is a royal pain-in-the-arse trying to monitor who has paid in what and when with a regular Chinese bank. In fact, it proved to be just about impossible. So, the facility for being able to check my account balance and recent inpayments quickly and easily online was the major selling point for me.
But I haven't been earning much lately, so... I hadn't bothered to check my account for two or three months. And when I tried to do so the other day, I found that the bank had just revamped its cyberbanking website. I tried to be optimistic about the change (after the initial irritation of taking some moments scouring a cluttered and unfamiliar homepage to try to find the tab that would take me to the cyberbanking area): it seemed that the 'new look' was somewhat more streamlined.
Unfortunately, on this new log-in page the previously available options to sign in using your name or a 'username' appeared to have been removed, or were at least temporarily suspended or dysfunctional. The only way to sign in was via the account number - which is a cumbersome 19 digits long. And I found that the entry window only admitted up to 15 digits.
I tried entering the full account number, thinking that perhaps it was registering somehow with the bank's website even though it wasn't all being displayed on my screen; but when I hit 'Submit', NOTHING happened. Not even the little swirly thing that tells you your computer is trying to do something; certainly not an 'error message' of any kind.
I tried a few more times. I tried omitting the last two, three, or four digits, thinking that perhaps they might be some sort of bank code and not after all part of my account number. Still no joy.
In a spirit of experimentation, I decided to query this via the online customer service link. When an operative finally got back to me 36 hours later, their message was.... my account number couldn't possibly be more than 16 digits.
Oh. Well, I'm looking at it right now, and it is definitely.... 15, 16, 17... yes, 19 digits long. And your dratted input window wasn't registering anything more than 15 digits anyway. WTF???
Call me old-fashioned, but I find it particularly disturbing when bank personnel appear to be UNABLE TO COUNT. Perhaps they're not using base 10??
Later that day, I found that the cyberbanking log-in page had changed again. I was now once more able to log in under my 'username' (although, having not used it in nearly three months, I struggled to remember it at first). But guess what? My 'account details' page now displays only a balance, not a list of transactions.
I am still waiting to hear from the customer service drones what the hell is up with that.