Bank of Ireland “Business Online” is literally unusable

bank-of-ireland-business-on-line-bad-webdesignBelow is the transcript of an email to Bank of Ireland’s help desk following my discovery this morning that there was no way for me to use their on-line business banking tool (a system for which we pay a monthly premium) without jumping through an extra-ordinary hoop which would be outside the knowledge of most normal users.

Sent to: business.online@boimail.com
Date: 21/12/2012 11:19

Hi,

I have been a business banking customer of Bank of Ireland for the past 7 years. I am also a web developer. As a web developer it is necessary for me to keep up to date with the latest technology to make sure that the websites we build are compatible with as wide a range of technologies as possible.

As a result, when Microsoft release an updated version of their browser, Internet Explorer, I install it and am able to continue testing websites across a wide range Internet Explorer versions.

With the latest update, Internet Explorer version 10,  www.boi-bol.com becomes completely unusable. The login screen will not function in IE10 browser mode, and I have tested it using the compatibility/dev tools functionality to render the site as IE7, 8 or 9. When using it in an earlier rendering mode it allows me to login, however, the new browser window opened to display my business on-line account is, by default, in IE10 mode. When I switch to IE7, 8, or 9, the browser window crashes. If I don’t switch to a different browser version then I can retrieve accounts and select an account from the drop down menu, but as soon as I try to load the Balance or Transactions page the browser window crashes.

I have attempted to login via Firefox and Chrome, neither of which work.

My laptop is running Windows 8 which comes with Internet Explorer 10 pre-installed. I have attempted to use Business On-Line from this machine but again, nothing I try works. This probably means that no Business On-Line customer using Windows 8 can use the system for which they pay a monthly premium.

I cannot believe that we are paying €180 a year to use this system which has clearly not been tested on any modern browsers and is causing me to waste valuable time. My colleague, Donn Maguire (cc’d on this email), has raised this issue in the past, and customer service assured him that a new system will be “rolling out soon” which will address these concerns. Instead absolutely nothing has changed since his first enquiries at least four years ago and we’re still stuck with the identical system which is badly designed, gives a terrible end-user experience, is  incompatible with a range of modern browsers, and fails to offer basic functionality which has been available in the personal banking system for a long time.

I am now forced to install VirtualBox and run a virtual instance of Windows XP purely to use Business On-Line. This is nothing short of a technological travesty.

blogged about this back in May of this year (inspired by Donn’s last contact with the helpdesk about BOL’s usability issues), and I also intend to publish this communication and update it with any responses.

I look forward to hearing what Bank of Ireland are going to do to address this issue.

Kind regards,
Alex

I will make sure to publish their response. I am not overly hopeful of this being resolved any time soon. The system they have implemented feels like a very awkward throwback to the internet of the nineties. I also dread to think what it cost to build.


Update: 11/01/2013 08:45

So a Bank of Ireland representative called me the same day I sent the email, back on the 21st December, and then I got distracted by the holiday season.

We had a very pleasant and amicable chat (because I’m not good at getting angry at random company reps on the phone). The basic upshot was that it won’t be fixed any time soon. The rep himself uses a Mac and admitted that would mean that he can’t access BOI BOL without BootCamp. My only solution was to continue to use a virtual machine booting Windows XP so that I have access to their system.

I let this sit for a while and then wrote a follow-up email which is included below. I have requested that we are no-longer charged for this ‘service’.

Sent to:business.online@boimail.com
Date: 07/01/2013 15:10

Hi again,

I am writing this email as a follow up to my previous email which is shown at the end of this message. After my last email I received a phone call from a very pleasant gentleman who explained in detail what the situation was with Bank of Ireland’s Business Online banking system.

He explained how Bank of Ireland had hoped to roll out an update which would have addressed these severe shortcomings but have had to delay that work due to various reasons, mainly preparing for the upcoming SEPA changes. He has also added me to a mailing list, at my request, which will send out notifications of upcoming Business Online changes and maintenance work.

The conversation was very amicable, but unfortunately we feel that it still does not justify us paying a monthly fee to use a system which is antiquated and requires us to employ time-consuming workarounds to access the system.

We have been a customer with Bank of Ireland since starting our business in 2005, pretty much a full 7 years, and I believe we set up Business Online immediately after opening our business account. Therefore we have spent approximately €1,200 to use a system which has seen no updates or changes and does not work as it should. We are unable to access it in modern browsers, it fails to provide detailed information, does not provide tie-ins with modern cloud accounting systems and overall provides us with very little benefit.

With this in mind I am formally requesting that we are no longer charged for the use of this system until such time that Bank of Ireland make substantial changes to improve the experience of using this product.

Please advise in writing whether this request has been accepted. We are quite happy to pay another bank if they offer a better system, but will remain with Bank of Ireland if the service is offered to us for free.

Kind regards,
Alex


Update: 11/01/2013 10:15

After receiving some comments and some encouraging reactions on Twitter I have followed up with an additional email to Bank of Ireland.

Sent to:business.online@boimail.com
Date: 11/01/2013 10:07

Hi there,

I am disappointed to have not received a reply to my email sent four days ago requesting the immediate cessation of charges for the Business On-Line service.

I am continuing to update my personal blog with this correspondence and both blog posts I have written on this subject are starting to receive additional comments and are gaining traction on Twitter through retweets and replies.

Below are some links that might be of interest.

Please confirm, in writing, whether we can expect the removal of Business OnLine charges from our account.

Kind regards,
Alex

Here are some tweets of interest:

Comments

  • Gereard

    Hi,

    I completely concur, I use BOL and its limit is windows 7 with ie 9. If you use chrome or firefox or use a Mac you are stuck.. The issue has something to do with how it works with Java. It needs to be corrected given that they are happy to take a monthly fee for this BS. Typical Banksters.

    • It’s a shocking state of affairs. I’m just about to update this post with additional information. Basically I received a call from them. They explained that it’s not going be fixed in 2013, maybe 2014. I have officially requested that we are no longer charged for the service.

      • Gerard Martin Duffy

        Hi,
        I dont suppose they offered any compensation for this “non-service”?

        • Ha! Most certainly not. And they refused to waive charges whilst they’re failing to provide that service..

          • Guest

            Had similar problems with Windows 8 but working now. Online Banking will only work in Desktop mode on Windows 8. It won’t work in Metro mode. You also need Java installed on your computer. Hope that helps.

  • profitsflow

    did you get any further with this since? Completely agree, this system is incredibly antiquated, €15 a month is not justifiable

    • Hey profitsflow,

      Sadly no.

      I’ve been meaning to update this blog post with the last communications.

      Basically they called and said there was nothing they could do and they can’t offer the service for free.

      We’re planning to move bank just on a point of principle, but I’m in the middle of prepping a move of country at the moment so haven’t had time to sort it out.

      Looking forward to closing our account though.

      • Fran Wahl

        I just came across your blog after playing around with IE10 browser/document
        modes for the past 30 minutes. This is unreal and I linked to your blog post
        from my google+ account as well. I’m also a web developer and found it hard
        enough at the start to only be able to use the application on IE.

        One would think that if the only browser the applications runs is IE that
        the guys in BOI would be able to make sure the application continues to work at
        least in IE. The official technical spec on their website doesn’t even include
        IE9 but only up to IE8. I’m assuming we were just lucky it did work in IE9
        then.

        I’m now looking at other banks and what applications they have to manage
        ones business transactions. If I find anything I hope switching from one to the
        other will not be to painful.

  • Mariusz

    Hey! I felt the same. Luckily I played with settings and I discovered that when I run a browser as administrator it did allow me to request the certificate and logon to BOI BOL.
    So, I think Ill be ok… but definitely changing the bank. BOI is too archaic…

  • Tomás

    I am runing windows 7 with IE9 and CAN log in but from there on I wish I hadn’t. Its a shambles.

    Its refreshing though to see that I am not the only one frustrated at the online experience with BOI BOL. I too am a software engineer / web developer ( hope we are not the only ones complaining – being people who are more in tune with web technologies) and I find it completely unacceptable that a premium service such as this offers such an abysmal user experience and question if this system was ever given any kind of user experience testing (to be honest though, user experience testing is not something I have come across extensively in the real world and is a lot of the time left to the smarts of the developers)

    I just sent an email this evening complaining to customer care about the site expressing these very sentiments but I am not feeling confident that anything will be done… given that the OP’s friend raised the issue over 4 years ago and yet no improvement!

    Maybe, perhaps, the answer is “there’s strength in numbers”. In this day and age I would expect that most small to medium size companies conduct 90% their banking online. How we could rally the troups though is beyond me ….

  • Tomas Winston

    I am runing windows 7 with IE9 and CAN log in but from there on I wish I hadn’t. Its a shambles.

    Its refreshing though to see that I am not the only one frustrated at the online experience with BOI BOL. I too am a software engineer / web developer ( hope we are not the only ones complaining – being people who are more in tune with web technologies) and I find it completely unacceptable that a premium service such as this offers such an abysmal user experience and question if this system was ever given any kind of user experience testing (to be honest though, user experience testing is not something I have come across extensively in the real world and is a lot of the time left to the smarts of the developers)

    I just sent an email this evening complaining to customer care about the site expressing these very sentiments but I am not feeling confident that anything will be done… given that the OP’s friend raised the issue over 4 years ago and yet no improvement!

    Maybe, perhaps, the answer is “there’s strength in numbers”. In this day and age I would expect that most small to medium size companies conduct 90% their banking online. How we could rally the troups though is beyond me ….

  • conorbyrne

    …..you can add Safari and Opera to the list of browsers which don’t work. Better go install a VM so I can pay staff, thank you BOI.

    • Absolutely. Sure the support rep I spoke to admitted that he had a Mac and therefore couldn’t access BOL from his personal computer. It’s hard to believe (yet I suppose not surprising).

  • Vic

    I am sorry to write that I feel precisely as you do about the BOI system, I would also go further and echo the sentiments of others below and criticise the actual interface even when it does work, it is an appalling system, terribly thought out, clunky, out of date and not at all user friendly. In my view, it is at least a dozen years out of date in terms of functionality and usage of browser technology… and only working in one out of date browser. Interestingly the BOI customer login interface is quite good by comparison and well thought out, it has been updated in recent times too. For us, presently in order to pay bills and wages we have to use an old otherwise disused PC in our office which runs IE8, but is considered fit for the bin otherwise. Come on BOI get your act together.

    • Hey Vic,

      Certainly the design is also a travesty. It’s basically something from the late 90’s that hasn’t changed at all.

      Truly appalling.

  • Yan O’Gore

    Try Avant browser it might solve the problem, I haven’t tried it yet but it worked with few other websites/apps that new ver. of IE failed.

  • ASMac

    I just can’t believe this BOI system. It is truly pitiful as you can’t even print out a repeat statement and records only go back 3 months. So there’s no opportunity to assess data historically, as only 3 months data is ever available. Talked to a really pleasant person on the helpdesk in Cork who told me it is a 12 year old programme and they are looking into upgrading it. I can see that various people were told that below years ago!! We thrive and survive on data and needto be able to query bank records. We are a new company in Ireland and will be moving bank I think. Incredibly banking 365 for personal accounts seems more powerful.

  • David

    I tried Avant browser as Yan O’Gore mentions, and it works for me.
    Had that failed BOI would have lost a customer. They might yet but at least I’ve access again. Thanks Yan!

    • Yan O’Gore

      No problem we have tested that too and it works 100% .

  • Steve

    BOI are absolutely useless…I called them 3-4 years ago about this exact same issue..I left them (well I had to close my business) and now lucky enough got to start a new one now. I am in shock as I try and Login from my Mac tonight that these useless idiots still have not sorted out a 2005 issue when their Mac users went up. Look at any other online banking system in the US or Europe, it’s a disgrace. I have worked in the web/digital industry for 10 years, this is not rocket science to get right, it really isn’t. Their head of IT / Web Dev should be fired and kicked in the arse on the way out…useless…absolutely useless…I have no idea why we are paying for something I can’t use….Does AIB or any other offer Mac support now?

  • Darragh

    we are on the same situation, I have boi online still running on 1 machine in the office on windows 7 but cant access from my work computers (macs) or home pc – windows 8. I have to pay for the service for both an ROI account and a Sterling Account held in Northern Ireland. I am strongly considering shifting to AIB or Ulster Bank simply because the online service is terrible. In this day and age for any small business access to your information and services through multiple browsers and operating systems is just a necessity, thanks for continuing to draw attention to this.

  • Noky

    Hello, I am on Mac as well and i have to use bootcamp. I think this is unacceptable as we pay 15 euros month for a service that does not work! Can we do a class action or put pressure to at least not pay service that does not work?

  • Boscl

    IE 11 solution .. the issue is “set it to compatibility mode”Compatibility View

  • Danny

    The same problem here. I bank with other banks in Ireland and abroad and its only bank of ireland that I have those problems with. I can’t use it on mac, I can’t use it on my phone or even a tablet (my work requires some travel time to time). I’m switching the bank. I’ve visited UB already and I’m about to get a call back from AIB. I have also contacted a bank in other country and they offered opening an account with no problem, free transfers, free visa card and no online usage charges. BOI would have been gone long ago if we lived in a free market country that doesn’t bailout broken companies…

    As for Windows 8 users – try to open your browser as an administrator. Works for me

  • Andy Murray

    Internet explorer has been declared “do not use” until Microsoft provide a fix for a serious security flaw. But BOI-BOL only runs on IE. Surely they MUST refund the service charge this month, given that they have not made any provision for this kind of situation.

  • Claire

    Hi Alex, read your post with interest. What do you think now that the US Dept of Homeland Security has advised people to not use IE? I’m about to contact them regarding it.

  • Pingback: Another banking disgrace Bank of Ireland charge for unusable business online banking service - WebArt | Smart Web Solutions | BlogWebArt | Smart Web Solutions | Blog()