Sunday, December 02, 2007

You really can't beat Wellington on a good day

Met up with an old friend, Pippa, today when we all turned up at Houghton Bay Park for a picnic. A spectacular location surrounded by natives and with a long grass meadow looking down to the bay. Some sandwiches, football, kite flying and lots of sun (and sunscreen). It really is true; you can't beat Wellington on a good day.

Houghton Bay Park

Houghton Bay Park

Houghton Bay Park

This is the reason I moved here. Forget the fact that I can't always buy what I want straight away and that wages are stupidly low, my kids are having a great childhood and they don't even know it. I hope one day they'll look back and talk about the things we did as a family and recognise what a special place New Zealand is and what a terrific city Wellington is. Sadly, I'm sure they'll have to go overseas first to realise this fact.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Wellington Phoenix Vs LA Galaxy - 1st December 2007

A great night for football. Wellington turned on the weather today and David Beckham proved to be a real crowd puller.

Wellington Phoenix Vs LA Galaxy - 1st December 2007

There was lots of singing and a bit of shouting, but all in a pretty friendly game.

Wellington Phoenix Vs LA Galaxy - 1st December 2007

David Beckham delivered some amazing passes from across the field and he is clearly incredibly gifted.

Wellington Phoenix Vs LA Galaxy - 1st December 2007

The Phoenix defended well and in numbers and there was plenty of activity around the goal.

Wellington Phoenix Vs LA Galaxy - 1st December 2007

For some reason, the blokes seemed to enjoy the pre-match entertainment from Batucada.


Funny that.

Internet Banking

I rarely write about my work and I'm not going to now except to say that I'm now more involved in Internet Banking than I've ever been and I've recently been given a bit of authority to do some "stuff" in this space. I mention it now as I just had an awful on-line experience with my UK bank, RBS, and it does highlight just how far ahead we are down here, despite what people think.

The New Zealand model is particularly customer focused and there is a lot of thought that goes into how interactions with customers are handled. This is true right across personal face-to-face dealings through to remote/on-line channel interactions. This person had a lot to do with the shape of the internet banking platform where I am today and the papers that exist are full of customer friendly concepts.

Now today I needed to use my online banking on my UK account to make a transfer. I have never used it before, being happy with touch-tone phone banking which was all I needed to check balances. It was only launched after I left the UK in 2001 and was excitingly called Digital Banking. I had tried to register a few years back but had got nowhere and given up.

Phone Banking has a customer number which is conveniently your date of birth followed by two more numbers. Easy to remember. The PIN is a standard 4 digit code and I remember it well as it was a derivation of my old work extension that I had for 10 years. That is all I need to access my account by phone.

For Digital Banking I need a password to and I have never had one so I rang the Digital Banking Help Desk to ask them to assist me. I want to be clear that I do not blame the staff for any of the following but the people that don't think about the systems that they build.

"Welcome to RBS. Can I have your customer number?"
"Wow, a person, didn't expect that. My number is xxxxxx-xx"
"Can I have the third digit of your PIN?"
"Can I have the fourth digit of your PIN?
"Thank you. Who am I speaking to?"
"John Robson"
"And your address?"
"blah blah, Nelson" [my in-laws who still get my bank statements!]
"What can I do for you today?"
"I don't have a Digital Banking Password and I'd like to access my account online"
"I'm sorry, you need a password"
"Yes, I know, but I don't have one"
"Yes you do."
"I do?"
"What is it?"
"I don't know"
"Oh, how do you know I have one?"
"Because the system is asking for the second letter of it. Do you know the second letter?"
"I don't know any of it as I've never had one. Can you give me a clue?"
"Sorry, we can't tell you any of it as the system doesn't tell us"
"Oh, can you reset it and e-mail me a new one?"
"No. I can send you a new one in the post though"
"The what?"
"By mail"
"Oh. How long will that take?"
"It is sent out within 4 days so you'll have it by next weekend"
"To New Zealand?"
"Oh, I don't know, probably not"
"But I know you have my e-mail. I just need to make a one-off payment"
"A what?"
"Sorry, a bank transfer.
"Oh, yes I can do that for you"
"Really. OK, can we do that now?"
"Yes, what is your password?"
"Excuse me?"
"Your password. It's the same as your Digital Banking password"
"The same? You mean the same as the one I don't know?"
"Do you want to guess?"
"Like hangman?"
"Yes. What's the third letter?"
"Look. Isn't there a security question or anything else I can do to verify who I am? I've given you my customer number, my PIN and my address. I know where my account is registered, I know the balance, I know the statement number, I know when I opened the account, I know the account number, I have my cash card, my credit card, my expiry dates, I know everything about my account. Is there no other way to make a transfer?"
"Go on, guess the third letter"
"No. Try the fourth"
"No. How about the sixth"
"I'd better not. Just post it to me please"
"OK, what is your sort code?"
"Hang on, I'll just find my cheque book........xx-xx-xx"
"And your actual account number?"
"OK, that's done and an Activation Code will be sent out to you in 4 days"

Internet security is very important and I can understand the rules, but this must happen every single day and to rely on post in an age when people expect instant response is madness. I can't think of a single other on-line system where there is not an option to send your password to your registered e-mail address or to offer some form of instant help; maybe I expect to much........