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 🙂