Dear Westpac Customer Service

Your entire system of online banking account security is stupid and non-functional.

Earlier today, I attempted to log in to banking on your Android app using the PIN quick login thing. After only three failed attempts (I have a bad memory. Apparently this is the end of the world.), it locked me out.

Normal behaviour from every other institution on the planet is to simply fall back to requesting full login info (username and password). I have this information. I wanted to use it when I realised I must have forgotten my PIN. But no, your system instead assumes the absolute bloody worst and shuts the whole world out.

I was given a phone number to ring “to get help”. I rang it, expecting an online/app banking helpline. Was it that? Surprise again! No. It’s for bloody phone banking.

I don’t have phone banking. I don’t want phone banking. No-one bloody wants phone banking. It’s not 1994.

Why is online banking even remotely connected to phone banking anyway?

Because I don’t have a bloody three-digit phone banking code (apparently the most secure set of numbers the universe could ever produce, going by the number of times I was asked for it or told I should have one), I was asked to prove my identity through a gauntlet of nonsense.

“Name?” OK. Easy. I know that one.

“Address?” Also good. A normal identifier, and one I’m happy to provide.

“Drivers licence number?” Well, that could have been a bit clearer. There are at least two different numbers on my licence. But after a bit of clarification (“The top-right corner” — you can tell your operators that is called the ‘card number’, as opposed to the ‘licence number’), we’re all through.

Great, I think. They’re nice and thorough about keeping my account secure, and we’re through the hard bit. I’m almost able to forgive them the stupidity that got me into this to begin with.

“Just a few more questions,” I’m told. Uh-oh. That’s not good.

Name and address again. I’m now fast losing confidence in your system and the competency of its operators.

“How many products or services do you have with us?” What? Like… Wait, what? How did this question sneak in there? Have I accidentally entered some kind of market research arm of the customer service system?

I dutifully count up my very few accounts and cards and relay the answer, unable to hide the skepticism in my voice.

“Do you have a statement with you?” Do I bloody what? No! I’m at bloody work, you moron! I don’t know about you, but I don’t walk around with a printout of a bank statement “just in case”. And besides, I get online statements — which I can’t bloody read right now because I still can’t bloody log bloody in!

“Do you know the account number of one of your accounts?”

Now is when I start looking around for TV cameras. Or for Satan. Because at some point during this interminable procedure I have somehow been transferred to a surreal world of people for whom arcane banking details are their most precious possessions, carried everywhere and memorised at all times.

“No!” I say, with as much anger and volume as can be reasonably expected from someone working in an open-plan office and trying to be polite.

At some point during this fever-dream of customer service-cum-homeland security, I’m informed that I have “failed” the ID check and must go to a branch to get my account reset.

A request to talk to a supervisor yields an idiot who only knows how to say variations on “I can’t unlock it. You have not passed the check,” like some kind of defective robot who was programmed to strip people of their natural-born identities.

At some point, and I kid you not, he actually says the words “This is not designed to block access to the account owner.”

In case you hadn’t worked it out by now — I AM THE BLOODY ACCOUNT OWNER!

You’ve essentially held my account hostage, and the ransom is my sanity.

Are your bank tellers lonely? Is that what this is? You pick some unsuspecting customers and ruin their day, all just to drive some foot traffic into the dying institution that is the bank branch?

If so, may I suggest another approach? How about a nice plate of cookies? I don’t know. I’m sure you have a team of people who will be paid handsomely to come up some ideas, but I hope they do soon. Because this one sucks.


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