The Postbank and I

I have a bad relationship with the Postbank, my German bank. Even though I do most of the work, they keep trying to charge me extra and have really bad customer service. I should just switch banks, but they are all like this, so what are we to do, go back to just paying cash?

Anyway, I paid bills 10 days ago with my ancient (2003) WISO MeinGeld program purchased on a special deal through the Postbank to make "paying my bills easier". It is kinda cute, you can store the normal recipients and make nice charts showing where your money goes. They wanted me to upgrade (i.e. pay 50 Euros for a new copy) last year so I could use the "iTAN" method of authentification, supposedly much safer (for the bank) than the old TAN method.

If you can read German, the iTAN method is just as insecure as anything else out there. But I managed to scream enough last year and they let us continue using our old systems.

Today the stack of bills fell over (lot of Christmas stuff) so I sat down at 11 pm and typed in all of the data. The cool thing about the program is that you put in all the TANs at once, don't have to wait until one is verified before you enter in the next bill to pay. I merrily entered in all the TANs and got a window: your TANs are now blocked, you have tried to use an illegal TAN method.

Great, gotta go talk to those lovely people at the Postbank call center. I dig for my "Telephone identification number" (you get lots of numbers with weird names to remember), punch it in to a canned voice, am to be forwarded to a human for help after I scream at the voice mail system three times ("press 1 for funds transfer..:"), and the system hangs up on me. They get paid by the minute that I call them, so this seems to be done on purpose. I dial in again (now fuming) and am put on hold. "You will be forwarded to the next available service person" (when we have enough of your money).

I finally get a woman and I complain: why is this changed without notice.
She: It was not changed without notice. It was on the home page.
Me: You mean you expect me to read your home page regularly?
She: Yes, if you bank with us you should read our home page regularly [and get bombarded by all their ads, I suppose]
Me: This is crazy, I want this sent to me.
She: We did, but most customers thought it was advertising and threw it away [Let's get this straight: our communications department is incapable of making an official letter that people see as such, so it is our fault if we don't read it?]
Me: This is crazy.
She: We now use iTANs, they are *much* safer.
Me: (blowing my stack) Hogwash, they are *not* safer!!
She: Don't interrupt me, I'm explaining it to you! We had so many people who sent their TANs to people just because of emails [phishing mails] so now we use iTANs, that makes the TANs they get this way useless.
Me: Look, I am a professor of computing, I know that this is just not safer, it is so silly, I want to be informed.
She: I am not the bank [sorry, sweetheart, if you answer the Postbank phone you are the Postbank to me], don't shout at me, speak in a civilized voice.

Okay, they have the wacko bit set for me and jump on me when I get upset.

Me: Just reset my TAN list and tell me how I can use your silly iTAN system.
She: We have a homepage explaining this [people call any page on the Internet a homepage]. And don't bother wanting to change banks, luckily, they all use iTANs now.

She wants to continue talking politics, but not on my nickel. I hang up.

The home page tells me to update my software in a manner that I already have. But I do it again, and after downloading and installing stuff it says: The system needs to be restarted. I figure the financial system, so I say "yes". Bang goes Skype and everything else, Windows restarts.....

Okay, I'm back up, fill in all the little blanks, try again, this time with just one bill. "Your program is not up to date, would you like to update it?" If I have to. Download another 8 MB, install, try again: "Your program is not up to date, would you like to update it?" F-off!
I say no and give it a whirl. ERROR: Your program cannot do iTANs correctly. Please purchase a newer version.

At midnight, a few days before Christmas? I really have to purchase new software in order to pay my bills with my money??? Well, I can do it by hand: CTRL+C, CTRL+V, field for field, for each of the 10 bills into the online web-based bank portal. Waaaaaaaait until the super safe iTAN is checked. Do the next one.... One of the iTANs asked for is one I have already used. But it works fine. I guess this is really super safe...........

It tool me 1 1/2 hours to pay 10 bills. And another 25 minutes to blow off steam here. Yes. I want to go back to cash.

PFFFFFFT. Just checked online to make sure the bills were paid. They charged me 6 Euros for resetting the TAN list. This is highway robbery!

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