Tag Archives: banks

Digital Age

This post is a rant. I can offer no solutions, no help. Some sympathy perhaps but that’s not terribly useful.

The story: we’re moving house. So we need to deal with lawyers and mortgage companies. For sound reasons, they both need to prove that we’re not laundering money.

Frankly, until I had to do a number of anti-money laundering courses at work I would have had no idea how to launder money. I’d be stuck like the characters in Office Space looking up the definition in a dictionary. Or, more to the point, looking it up online.

We’re not laundering money in case there was any doubt. But these days it’s really tricky to prove otherwise.

They ask for a record of your funds that is less than three months old, official and with your name, account number and address shown. This doesn’t sound unreasonable until you actually look in your files.

My bank doesn’t send me statements. The online version does not include my address. I can change my address but I can see no record of my current one.

My investments statement shows all the required details but they only send them once a year, so for three-quarters of the year they are not suitable. The numbers are available online but include none of the details and no date.

Only one of the financial services companies that I use has monthly statements with all the details they ask for. Of course, that’s the account that I don’t really need for this transaction.

Much of what I do is online these days, much at the behest of the same banks that make this whole process so complicated. Can they not see that their own customers are unable to provide the details that they are legally required to obtain?

My delicious.com bookmarks for January 25th through January 27th

My del.icio.us bookmarks for January 1st through January 3rd

  • Banking disaster man honored by the Queen – The man who lost the personal data of 25mm people is rewarded with a CBE. Does that make any kind of sense? Anywhere other than the civil service he’d lose his job!
  • Paris and Berlin ban cafe smoking – Definite progress. Does the reference to Nazi policies in Germany prove that Godwins Law (“As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”) also applies to the real world?
  • The Electric Car Conspiracy … that never was – Interesting film. Given the spread of Smart cars here I have to think that there would be consumer demand for electric cars, which only leaves the conspiracy…

Update: Belkin Wi-Fi Phone

I just realised that the story of my Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype lacks any form of closure. But before we get there, let’s start with a quick recap in case you didn’t read the original review or its follow-up.

Last year, after realising that we had spent over ?30 in a quarter on line rental but less than 50p on phone calls, we decided to get rid of our land-line and rely only on broadband and VoIP technology. After some thought we went for Skype and a physical handset that connected to our wireless access point. This seemed like a great solution as leaving a computer switched on 24/7 just so we could recieve calls on our SkypeIn number didn’t appeal.

The appeal quickly wore off when it materialised that the Belkin handset just didn’t work very well. Other parties complained of an annoying echo while we complained that it drifted on- and off-line, meaning that people had to be lucky and call us when it was online. It also exhibited stability problems, often crashing during a call or even while in standby. Belkin were actually pretty efficient about taking the handset back and replacing it with a less broken one.

    We were initially quite happy with the new phone. It actually worked free of the power cable and people were able to call us on our SkypeIn number on a couple of occasions.

    Unfortunately, the more we used it the more we noticed its flaws. For a wireless device, one of its biggest problems is the fact that you pretty much have to leave it plugged in all the time if you want to reach the end of your call without the battery dying. It was fine to unplug it when the call came in but the battery life in stand-by mode meant that even leaving it unplugged in the office for half a day would have been asking for trouble if someone rang.

    Then there were the random hangs. Sometimes, as noted in my follow-up post, the time just stuck, the machine unresponsive. Actually, I tell a lie. If you pushed a button the back-light would come on, giving the impression that it was still alive, but it wouldn’t actually do anything, like make or receive a call.

    Of greater concern were those hangs half way through a call. Typically it would happen after ringing a phone banking service and being kept on hold for an inordinate amount of time. It’s amazing that the phone is still intact after letting us down so badly. Actually, after a several such hangs during what was supposed to be a single transaction it’s amazing that all furniture, glasses and windows are still in one piece.

    Now that I mention phone banking, there was another point where the phone would let you down. At the beginning of each call I was expected to enter my card number and PIN. Fine, but their systems never seemed to recognise the Belkin. Now maybe this is a localisation issue (we have to call both UK and US banks) and not something I can squarely place with the phone, but it was nevertheless a frustration.

    In the end we dare not use the phone to make important calls, fearing that it would cut out at some critical juncture. Equally, we weren’t keen on using it to call family as they, understandably, were irritated when we had to call back three times just to complete a conversation. In the end it was a nice ideal that just didn’t work in practice for what we wanted it for, so a couple of months ago I put it on eBay.

    Now we have our SkypeIn number forwarding to our mobiles, meaning that, like international roaming, we have a pay to receive calls. With the number of landline calls we get this is not a huge problem, but it’s sad that it currently seems to be the only viable method of using Skype without having a computer switched on 24/7.