When I lived in the US, I had a Bank of America checking account. I used their online banking services all the time, and, simply put, it was awesome. Not only did it do a whole lot (bill pay, transfer funds, updates, etc.) but it was so easy to use.
Now I do my banking with RBC, and have signed up to use their online banking. I don’t want to make this a Canada vs. America thing (though it is all too easy given that the country names are right there as part of the bank), but I can only conclude that this is yet another reason why America is better than Canada (USA! USA! USA!). The other two are Amazon and pizza.
It’s about the time of the month when I have a batch of bills that come due, and I always dread logging in and trying to navigate the wonky interface to accomplish this really simple task.
I think that the opening page is a pretty good indication of the experience you’re in for when you try to use this service:
So far so good, right? Awesome. A reasonable person would expect that the kind of things that belong in this menu are actions, things you’d want to do, things that the helpful RBC internet elves could assist you with, maybe signing in to banking, getting in touch with a representative, finding a branch.
Or, apparently, this is Canadian – English for “What Country is Your Account In?”
While you can do quite a lot within the service, it seems less like a designed system and more like a mish-mosh of different functionalities and modules held together with spit and duct tape. There’s a lot of jumping around and between different interfaces and areas of online banking and never any clear sign of where you are (or how you’ve got there and how you can get back). This is an especially scary thing for an online banking site. With no clear path back, I use the browser back button (which is somewhat of a no-no in web apps) and inevitably end up getting asked if I want to send the form again. Until I check my balance, I’m never quite sure if I’ve ended up sending Fido (my mobile carrier) twice what I owe them. And even sending them once what I owe them pains me because that’s already more than it’s worth.
A game that I like to play is called “Nest the Tabs” I click around for a while and see how many nested tab navigation menus I can rack up. My record in this game is four:
Pretty good, huh?
Perhaps the biggest flaw with the service is its flakiness. Most sessions end not with my logging out but with an error message like this:
… which is so frustrating! It’s not temporary if it happens over and over again, and there’s no information on this page that tells me why the error happened or what I can do to resolve it or better yet, avoid running into it again.
It’s bad enough to receive this kind of error and lose your work flow if you’re checking email or uploading photos … but when your finances are at stake, it can be truly terrifying! What if this happened in the middle of a funds transfer? Not only are the effects of this acute, but it also contributes to a general mistrust of the system, and thus the company as a whole.
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