ING Direct excess Security Complaint Letter

Here is an email I just sent out to ING Direct in response to the frustration I was having recovering a lot PIN and getting hung up on by a nice customer service woman. Is it me or are online banks making it overly difficult to log in and manage our money? Well all hail the Internets and let the consumer fight back. To add a few more coals to the fire consider
PayPal to ING – PayPal has a better interest rate – 5% vs ING Directs 4% and their website is much easier to use!

Dear Sir,
I’m an ING direct member and I like to comment on a recent experience I had while accessing your online banking service.

It appears that online banking has swung from having very little security to having too much. I’m a tech savvy user and having lost my PIN I would of thought that a simple click on a link to have a new PIN sent out would be all that was needed. Well, no such luck. First issue: It appeared that I had to dial an 1888 number to reset my pin. Next issue, the 1888 number listed contains letter and numbers. I have a blackberry (so do tens of thousand of us) and we don’t have letters below the numbers on the keypad – well, not like regular phones do so the number listed was essentially useless. Ok I thought, let me look up the 1888 number in google, so I type in “Contact ING direct” and up comes ING Australia’s website !!! Not ING’s fault entirely but another little annoyance.

I eventually found the 1888 number by wading through some FAQs and once connected got told that the PIN can only be sent out by snail mail!! Yes, that strange old method of information delivery from somewhere back in the the dark ages!! Needless to say I was a little miffed and tried to explain my frustrations to the nice young lady on the other end who. She completely ingnored my comment that the system was too complicated and that I’m a young pup, relatively tech savvy and if this were my 70 year old mum she’d of given up 3 steps ago! The woman kept on asking if I’d let her help me or something scripted like that. She finally informed me that the PIN would be sent out via snail mail and then abruptly hung up! Note to self, I’ve really got to setup the ability to recored these phone conversations, sure I was a little excitable but it’s her job to take a little flack right? (Perhaps you can listen to the call yourself) We all have heard the AOL customer service incident – it’s time for the consumer to fight back against rude customer service people! You can listen to this unbelievable conversation here on youtube.

It wouldn’t be fair to single out just ING, I have used other big bank’s online systems too and one particular one, not in the USA, also appears to have jumped from having no security to being non user friendly with changing pins and passwords every time you log in.

So here are my suggestions for online banks:

1) Don’t make it too complicated – Grannies who frequent the local bingo night should be able to use the system too!
2) Clearly display your 1800 number without the use of letters and numbers.
3) If a customer is giving you free information – USE IT! Why didn’t she simply forward me to a comments or suggestion line? I was giving her FREE information, not asking for $100 and hour and some pizza for being part of a focus group.

I will be posing a copy of this email to my website ( and let’s hope the press it receives stirs things up a little and makes THE CUSTOMER have a better banking experience.

Update: (Jan 30, 2007) I happy to report that I got a nice email back from a Mr John Price at ING Direct. He started out by saying that “the newest login security feature has met with mixed reviews”. He mentioned that the added security was implemented based on guidelines from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) in late 2005. ING considered using high tech solutions like biometrics and smart cards but felt the pin system they have now was the least intrusive method he said. He also said that a thief who raided your home office could in theory get hold of all your personal information like mothers maiden name and social security number and so a PIN was an added security measure in addition to the normal data asked for hence the reason it could not be given out over the phone. He said in closing that he’d pass my comments and suggestions on for further consideration (presumably higher up the chain of command). Thank you Mr Price, now can I have my pin so I can get my taxes done 🙂

Slow Mac – Perhaps you needs some more RAM?

You’re blazing away on your lappy and then for no reason it appears to go tits up! Slow, slow, slow. Switching windows, the loading of webpages and god help you if you try to launch a new applications cos that little beach ball is going to sit there for the next milenium it seems. One possible cause of this slow pokery is a nasty conditon called “Ramms Lackus” commonly known as running out of RAM but I’m happy to report there is a cure.

When you run out of RAM, you computer doesn’t just stick you the bird, it starts using your hard drive as RAM (this is known as virtual memory). That’s great but accessing RAM is a lot quicker than a accessing data on a hard drive (virtual memory) hence the slow as molasses experience.

So let’s see if this is the cause of your piss poor computer by following the 5 steps below:

1) Start by rebooting your computer and open the programs you normally use.

2) Use the programs you’ve just opened, update that word document and browse that webpage you can’t get enough of. Do this for 10-15 mins.

3) Now open the activity monitor (Go to your Applications Folder then Utilities Folder and it should be towards the top)

4) Next click on the “System Memory” tab of the Activity Monitor, located at the bottom of the window and look for Page ins/outs : value toward the middle at the bottom to the left of the little pie chart . It will be in the form of two number: number1 / number2.

5) The second number is the number of pageouts, or number of times that the computer has had to use the internal hard drive as virtual memory. If this number is very high, above 3,500, then you probably could use more RAM. Ideally it should be at zero. (Note: the screen capture above was from my Mac with a ton of programs open, Firefox, Safari, NeoOffice to name a few. No matter how much ram you have (I have the max of 2 gig) you will eventually get page outs so try not to be run too many programs at once)

From my own person experience I always tell my pals to get as much RAM as they can afford. I just upgraded to 2 gigs in my powerbook G4 and while it may sound like a lot and I’m admittedley a power user / program whore, my G4 has been transformed from a sloth to a world class athlete. I have to add that at I do have a ton of programs open simultaneously (Safari, FireFox, OpenOffice, Itunes, Iterm, Quicksilver, Stickies, TextWrangler and a few more) so this may be the reason for my G4 sucking big time with it prior to upgrading to 2 GIGs of Ram ( I also had the G4 memory slot issue). If you’re not comfortable doing the upgrade yourself I suggest speaking to a knowledgeable Mac savvy friend.

A 512Mb stick goes for as little as $50 new for those in the know and I just paid $99 for a 1 Gig stick from Just make sure you get the correct speed (this is where your knowledgeable Mac guru pal comes in handy!) It physically take less than 5 minutes to upgrade your ram and if your computer has the slowdown blues this may be just what the doc ordered.

See this Article on for more tips on speeding up a slow mac.


WiFI, Coffee and a view – The New Moon Bakery in Nederland, Colorado

With the demise of the popular coffee shop known as Acoustic Coffee and the lack of internet at the little coffee shop that’s located in a rail road car, Nederland appeared to be up the proverbial smelly creek when it came to sipping the brown stuff and surfing the Internet. Well I’m glad to report all is not lost. The space that used to house Katmandu several years ago is now home to a coffee shop and bakery (The New Moon Bakery) that boasts among other things a speedy WIFI internet connection.

Being the geek that I am I was curious to partake of the coffee and the wonderful fresh feeling of WiFi at 9000ft. After ordering a bog standard “Soy Cafe O’lay” I firined up my icy cold Powerbook. I’d been cross country skiing by the Moffet Tunnel and lappy had waited patiently for me for a couple of hours in the trunk of my car. It was literally icy cold to the touch and I’d ready somewhere that you should let a laptop that has been left in a cold car warm up to room temperature for half an hour or so. Summin to do with the squishy LCD material. Well I digress so on with my tale. I started by running a speed test that resulted in a slowish 256k download and 700k upload speed, something on paper that sounds piss poor but in reality after browsing some of my favorite sites I concluded that it was in fact pretty zippy and probably connected to a T1 line somewhere.

The coffee wasn’t too shabby either and if you sit in the front of the coffee shop there is a nice big row of windows where you can watch the world go by, gaze off into the distance at the green hillside of pines as well as get a nice view of the public shite house that is a mere 30 feet from the front door. So next time you’re in Nederland give New Moon Bakery a try.

The cafe can be found in Nederland (16.8 miles from Boulder up Boulder Canyon):

1 W 1st St
Nederland, CO 80466

Hours: Open Sun 8am-3:30pm, Mon-Tues 6am-3:30pm, Wed-Fri 6am-5pm, and Sat 7am-5pm. Tel. (303) 258-3569

Here is a Google Maps link


Cell Phone do not call list. Urban Ledgends and other guff.

A mate of mine recently forwarded an email claiming that a directory of cell phone numbers will soon be published and presumably made available to anyone, including telemarketers. All recipients were encouraged to call 888-382-1222 and have their number added to the do no call list.

My first course of action when receiving an email of this nature normally involves a quick scan of the Urban Legends website know as Sure enough the claims in this email came up as FALSE (see this page for full details) but as with all urban legends there is a grain of truth in the email (from Snopes): A national directory will be compiled, but numbers will be included on an opt-in basis. If a cell phone subscriber does nothing, the number will not be listed. When the directory is ready, it will be available only as part of the existing 411 directory service, accessed by calling in and asking for a specific number. It will not be published in a book or on the Internet. And it will not be sold to telemarketers.

The moral of the story is check with first before you forward any emails that contain wild claims to 100 of your mates. Sure, I always find it fun to ream this particular gent a new one when he messes up but if you add up the time wasted for all the recipients to figure out that the email is in fact false you might be quite alarmed. Let assume this fellow forwarded it to 8 of his pals (I see he did looking at the To: field of the email) If each of those people forwarded it to 8 of their friends and those to 8 of theirs then you can see we’re headed up that smelly creek for sure!

So let’s all make New Year’s Resolution Number 7: “I will check with first before forwarding any alarmist emails to my pals”

I think I’d like to create my own Urban Legend this year so if you have any ideas drop me a line. I also have a pretty good idea of whom the first recipient of this email will be in order for it to propagate around the Internet like a nasty dose of the Clapp!

New Year’s Resolutions 2007

What are your New Years Resolutions – Phoenix has a few.