Banks that don’t deliver

August 7, 2012

The DeliveryDemon prefers to avoid dealing with financial institutions, primarily because of the enormous effort required to overcome their incompetence. The validity of this prejudice was confirmed recently during an attempt to open a very simple bank account https://deliverydemon.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/delivering-complexity-at-the-expense-of-security/

But the saga didn’t end there. Despite the DeliveryDemon having previously entered her details online – and she knows how to spell her own name – when she went to a branch to complete the tedious and primitive process, the bank person (teller? salesman?) managed to introduce an incorrect spelling. When the DeliveryDemon pointed this out, and expressed the wish to have cards and cheque book showing the name she normally uses, the bank person claimed to have corrected it. This was followed by the staggering assertion that, having introduced the error, the bank would send me documentation in the incorrect name as well as correct documentation.

So what actually happened?

  • A chequebook arrived with the incorrect name
  • A paying in book arrived with the incorrect name
  • TWO cards arrived in the SAME envelope, one with the incorrect name and one with the correct name, with the covering letter referring to BOTH cards
  • Two separate envelopes arrived in the same post as the cards, with PINs for each card – not particularly good security.

Today the DeliveryDemon spent nearly half an hour on the phone to their hell centre to try and sort the mess out.  The first clueless idiot, who couldn’t even read what was on the screen in front of her, just bleated that she wasn’t capable of changing details. Rather than waste time, the DeliveryDemon asked to talk to the supervisor. This person waffled on about stuff having gone missing – in fact he was referring to the cards etc that I had received with the incorrect name on them. Eventually he stopped waffling for long enough to arrange for corrected chequebook and paying in book to be sent, but the card problem was handled elsewhere.

When the DeliveryDemon got through to the bunch who deal with cards, their first suggestion was that they would send new cards to the branch to be picked up – a round journey of 80 miles, not to mention the time wasted and the tedious hanging around in the branch –  suggesting incorrectly and without checking the facts that cards had been sent which the DeliveryDemon had not received.

Eventually it transpired that nothing had gone missing but the bank had generated an incorrect card and a correct card and had chosen to send out BOTH cards in the same envelope. There is clearly a complete lack of intelligence in the system to pick up the fact that two cards were being sent for a single signatory account. Even if it had been a multiple signatory account, sending two cards in the same envelope is poor security, and the fact that this can happen indicates that, if the card sticking and envelope stuffing gets out of sequence, there’s nothing in the process to stop cards going to the wrong person.

This is the same bank which wants the customer to come up with EIGHT so-called authentication factors, considering it a form of security to ask a customer for information which is in the public domain. It hasn’t registered the fact that anything which makes a number memorable also makes it easier to guess. And it’s far too stupid to realise that, even if someone is sufficiently media-led to have a favourite sleb, that is hardly the sort of stable information that makes for a decent authentication factor – just how many people are going to contact their bank every few weeks to announce that they have gone off Lady Gaga recently and much prefer Metallica?

Clearly this bank has no concept of the basics of security. Like so many institutions it has confused security with making it difficult for customers to access their own money. And to confirm that staggering absence of commitment to customer service, it expects customers to go out of their way to sort out mistakes whcih arise purely from the bank’s incompetence.


Delivering Sporting Excellence

August 4, 2012

The DeliveryDemon is not a natural spectator. Since it’s difficult to avoid reading about the Olympics, she has been indulging a habit of playing with statistics to get a different perspective of the medal tables.

All things being equal, a country with a large population has a greater chance of producing sporting greats. In a large population, there’s a greater likelihood of finding the extremes of sporting prowess, and the more excellent performers there are, the greater the competitive opportunities, so high performing athletes have the impetus to stretch towards their limits in order to excel at home. That means that a populous country which can afford its good athletes a degree of financial security is likely to figure high in the medal tables.

Conversely, a small country may produce a small number of excellent athletes but it is unlikely to have the breadth and depth of skills which a large country can produce.

The DeliveryDemon decided to explore the medal scores on the basis of which countries require the least  heads of population to produce a medal and to produce a gold medal. The results are interesting. On August 4th:

  • New Zealand comes top on golds and overall, with Slovenia in second place
  • The next few places in the gold table are occupied by various Eastern European countries
  • Eastern Europe also does well in the all medals table, but different countries appear, and Australia is quite highly placed
  • UK is 13th in the gold table and 14th in the medal table
  • USA is 19th in the gold table and 34th in the medal table
  • China is 30th in the gold table and 47th in the medal table
  • Slovakia, with no golds, is fifth in the medals table
  • It takes between 1.478 million and 192.376 million people to produce a gold medallist
  • It takes between .633 million and 403.398 million people to produce a medallist of any sort

So is there any meaningful insight here? Possibly.

  • Numbers matter but are not a guarantee of excellence.
  • Warrior countries seem to do well, whether the warrior characteristic comes through a nomadic and hunting culture or recent conflict
  • An outdoor lifestyle produces good sportspeople
  • Assuming that a medallist sits at the apex of a pyramid of active people, then the UK is probably not one of the most sedentary countries in Europe

Two areas the DeliveryDemon has not explored:

  • How does the medal count reflect the cost to a country of having a team in London
  • Does footballing prowess mirror or counterbalance athletic prowess, or is there no correlation.

Was this a useful exercise? The DeliveryDemon doesn’t really care, it was fun playing with the statistics.