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A Web Form is Supposed to Make Banking and Banking Online Easy

web formThis is a rant more than anything else. There is never a good reason to use a multipart web form. A single part web form can be used almost anywhere online. With current web technologies, error checking and validation can occur before submitting the form.

What happens when the form doesn’t work as it should? You end up calling the bank. Of course, this happens with places other than banks. A single bank has irritated me to no end and that’s why I’m picking on them.

The Bank and the Web Form

The bank at fault is USAA, which stands for United Services Automobile Association. It offers exclusive benefits, products and discounts for United States military members and their eligible family members. Since I joined after retirement, they obviously offer these things to retired military members as well.

The problem started when I tried to add my wife, Josie, to my account. On the first web form page, I clicked on the radio button for U.S. citizen and then filled in her social security number, twice. I clicked continue and filled out the second page, ignoring the citizenship information at the top since I had already given that information.

When I finished the second page and submitted it, the error checking routine told me I had to fill in that citizenship information. They wanted a country and passport information and the United States was not on the list. I couldn’t submit the form.

I tried doing this several times over the course of three or four months, with the same results. I even tried to open a separate account for her, experiencing the same issues. A few days ago, I decided to call USAA and speak to a representative. The representative couldn’t help me. The only thing the both of us could figure out is that it had something to do with her social security number. She’s a naturalized citizen.

The representative advised me to enter her as a Filipino citizen, using her Filipino passport. Unfortunately, her passport expired, and we’re waiting for the new one from the Philippine Consulate in Honolulu. It’s an obvious error on the part of the person who designed the web form. They probably hired a contractor who isn’t working for them anymore.

The Telephone Routine

Customer service by telephone is mostly automated. After tapping on numbers to get to the right department, you have to wait on hold until the representative picks up. In my experience, they rarely pick up within a few minutes. That’s why most people hate calling, myself included.

Many banks and other entities have their own private mail systems. Some are more full-featured than others. Some of them even have chat systems set up. It’s always easier to use either one instead of calling on the phone.

The Final Option

If USAA can’t get their sh*t together, it’s time to use someone else. I recently applied for membership at Navy Federal Credit Union. I was a member back in the 1980s, but I closed my account for whatever reason.

I don’t have any real banking issues with USAA, other than what I’ve mentioned. It shouldn’t be difficult to turn a single account into a joint account, which is what I tried to do. My Navy Federal account will be joint to begin with, regardless of what they call it.

When we receive Josie’s new Filipino passport, I’ll call a representative at USAA and try to fix her account. Even if I’m successful, I’ll still keep Navy Federal as an additional banking service. It won’t cost me anything.

USAA refunds ATM fees up to a certain amount. Navy Federal does too, but only for an account with a monthly fee. USAA doesn’t have a physical bank branch. Navy Federal has many physical branches.

Why Am I Complaining?

Why not? This is a rant, remember?

I don’t live in the United States, even though I’m an American citizen by birth. I retired to the Philippines in 2006. Josie is from Olongapo, and we built our house there in 2006.

My military pension direct deposit payment goes to the Philippines. I’ve been banking with BDO for a few years and I haven’t had any issues with them. Other than having to physically go there every month, that is. Since that’s something I can’t do while visiting my children in the United States, I have an allotment going to USAA. A small amount continues to get deposited at BDO every month.

I have three automatic deductions being taken from my USAA account every month. Even if I create a new allotment for Navy Federal, I’ll keep an allotment going to USAA to cover those deductions. It’s much easier to do that than it is to switch them from bank to bank (or bank to credit union in this case).

Traveling back and forth from the Philippines to the United States means I have to change allotment amounts. I need to have the most amount of money available where I’m physically located at the time. It’s much easier for me to adjust allotments online than it is to switch direct deposit accounts, which requires bank visits.

Back to Web Forms

I hate using web forms as much as I hate using passwords, especially multipart web forms. Both are necessary evils, however, until better ways to do things are invented. Even with voice assistants, we’re a long way from being able to trust other methods even when they’re better.

I remember doing things physically, in person, before ATMs were invented and definitely before the internet became a thing. Things may be faster today, but not necessarily better or easier.

Okay, rant over.

Image Attribution: Clker-Free-Vector-Images at Pixabay

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By RT Cunningham
January 14, 2020
Technology