My bank was recently acquired. The migration of accounts into the new bank’s infrastructure happened over the weekend, and this morning at 8am, we were officially able to log into the new online banking site.
We were told that any direct deposits or debits we had configured with the old bank’s routing number would automatically transition to the new bank without any intervention on our part, but I didn’t want to rely on that, so before the weekend I made an inventory of everywhere my bank account info is configured, and I set out today to update it everywhere.
It did not go smoothly. In fact, it went wrong in a plethora of different ways. At some point I just became so fascinated with the myriad failure modes that I decided to write them all out briefly here in the hope that someone else might find them amusing. What doesn’t kill us makes for an entertaining story, and all that.
It seems like every single web site that has my bank account info has an entirely different user interface for updating it and hides the page for it in an entirely different location, not always an intuitive one. Much of the time I spent doing all the updates was spent simply figuring out how on each site.
IRS Advance Child Tax Credit
I tried to log into my IRS account to update the info for my Advance Child Tax Credit direct deposits. The home page informed me that (a) I should create a new id.me account to log in with rather than using the existing IRS account username and password I already had, and (b) “We’re sorry, this service may be temporarily unavailable for new users. Please consider returning later while we work to resolve this issue.”
I went through the long, drawn-out process of creating the id.me account, which included entering a bunch of private information, uploading photos of the front and back of my driver’s license, and allowing id.me to “scan my face” to confirm that I was a live person (incidentally, it didn’t allow me to choose which webcam to use, which was problematic because I normally have my laptop lid closed and use a different webcam when I’m working from home, as I am today), and when all of that was done and id.me tried to send me back to the IRS web site, it failed:
Then I tried logging in with my existing username and password, and that failed too:
I have no way of knowing whether this is a temporary problem or I’m permanently locked out of my IRS account. As far as I can tell the IRS provides no mechanism for reporting problems like this and getting help resolving them.
(I’ve contacted the office of my U.S. Representative, Ayanna Pressley, to ask for their help getting this resolved. We’ll see if that does any good, and if so, how long it will take.)
UPDATE (one day later): I was able to successfully log into the portal the next day and update my direct deposit information. However, when I did that, a message was displayed saying that if my tax return had been filed jointly (it was), then my spouse would continue to receive their portion of the advance child tax credit using the old direct deposit info until they updated theirs as well. That doesn’t make any sense to me because I thought a joint tax return meant our taxes, payments, and refunds were calculated together, not separately, so maybe the message was simply wrong. However, if it’s right, then I can’t update my wife’s direct deposit info for several weeks: when I tried yesterday to set up an account on the site for her, it said it couldn’t identify her phone number and they would have to mail her a PIN via postal mail, which will take several weeks to arrive. :sigh:
UPDATE 2: My wife has been trying for several days to create her own id.me login to the IRS site. The site seems to come up with a different error message every time she tries. She still hasn’t been successful.
UPDATE 3: The PIN for my wife from the IRS arrived less than a week after I requested it, so that’s something, at least. I was able to use it to activate the old-style login to the site that I started setting up last week, and then I was able to use that to log into the site, and… it turns out that last week when the site told me that my wife’s direct deposit information had to be updated separately from mine, it was lying. When I logged into the site and looked my wife’s payment profile it was already updated to our new bank account info. Amazing!
I was able to update my info in UniPay but it said it was verifying my new info by making two small deposits into my bank account and the update wouldn’t be complete until those deposits showed up my account and I came back to the UniPay site and entered their amounts to verify my access to the account. Not terrible, but not great.
What is pretty terrible is that I had to use Don’t Fuck With Paste to force the site to allow me to paste my routing number into the form when entering the new bank account information. This is so, so stupid. It’s a mystery to me why web developers think blocking paste on fields like this is a good idea. Do they honestly think it’s better for us to type routing and account numbers by hand, increasing the likelihood of error, rather than saving them somewhere and pasting them when they’re needed? Sheesh.
Legal & General America
My wife has a Banner Life Insurance policy through L&G America. We have not previously set up an account through their web site to manage the policy, but I tried to do so today. It prompted me for our policy number, my wife’s date of birth, and the last four digits of her Social Security Number, which I entered correctly and clicked the submit button. It paused for a long time and then spit out an error informing me that it couldn’t verify the information I entered and I needed to call them on the phone to resolve this.
I tried again later the same day and it claimed, “Sorry, but the information you entered is either incorrect or does not match our records. Please check the fields below and try again or contact Customer Service. Thank you.” I double- and triple-checked that all the information was entered correctly.
I tried to log into My Verizon in the middle of the work day and got “My Verizon is temporarily unavailable.” I tried again hours later and got the same error. At that point it occurred to me to clear my site cookies, after which I was able to log in successfully. I do so love sites which break themselves by leaving cookies in your browser which they are then unable to understand.
I had to enter my routing number and account number manually because the third-party vendor that Verizon Wireless uses for bank integrations, Trustly, doesn’t know how to integrate with my bank. Plaid does, but alas Verizon isn’t using Plaid.
The cunning developers of the FiOS web site have the paste key (Command-V) disabled in the routing number field, so I had to use the Edit -> Paste menu command to paste the routing number.
The site doesn’t let you edit the “Bank account nickname” field unless you’ve checked the “Save to account” checkbox, but that checkbox is later in the tab order than the field, so you have to either use your mouse to fill out the form (ugh) or tab to the checkbox, check it, and tab back to the nickname field. In addition, if you’re navigating the form using the keyboard, there’s an invisible divider that’s in the tab order between the nickname field and the checkbox, which costs you an extra tab getting to the checkbox and an extra Shift-Tab getting back to the nickname field and then an extra tab getting to the “Continue” button.
Stellar user experience work all-around.
They don’t let you change the routing number of your existing direct debit information, so I had to add the new routing and account numbers as a new account.
After I did that, I needed to select the new account I just added as the default payment account. When I went to do that, there was a drop-down menu for me to select the account from. There were two accounts listed in the menu, with the label “Checking A/C #” followed by the last four digits of the account number. The problem is that my account number at the old and new banks is the same — only the routing number has changed — so it was impossible for me to tell from looking at the two entries in the drop-down which one I should select.
Furthermore, there was no way for me to see which routing number was associated with each of the entered bank accounts.
Furthermore, there was no way for me to delete bank accounts from my account, so I couldn’t just delete both of them and then enter the new one.
I ended up having to do a live chat with their support people to get them to delete the old account.
Elan Financial Services
When I tried to add the new account information the site claimed that an account with that information already existed. I don’t know whether that was because it was only checking the account number and not the routing number (as noted above, my account number at the new bank is identical to the old), or because their site is smart enough to know that my new and old routing numbers go to the same bank now that the acquisition is complete. In any case, the user experience was poor.
I ended up having to delete the bank account that was already there and then adding it back with the new routing number.
If I had been enrolled in auto-pay this would have caused it to be deactivated and I would have had to reactivate it, but I avoided that fate because I don’t use auto-pay on this account.
The Elan web site uses “security questions”, which are a terrible security practice that should be banned, instead of proper two-factor authentication. I had to enter the answer to one of my security questions five different times while going through this process: when logging in, when attempting to add the account the first time that failed, when deleting the old account, and when successfully adding the new account. This is stupid.
Here’s an oddity I don’t quite know what to make of: after deleting my bank account information and adding new bank account information, the previously scheduled payment for later this one appeared to be intact. It shouldn’t have been, right? When I deleted my bank account info there should no longer have been a bank account available for that payment, so it should have been canceled, right? But it wasn’t. I don’t know whether, when the scheduled date of that payment arrives, they’re going to make the direct debit using my new or old routing number. :shrug:
USAA credit card payments
I was able to add the new bank account information for my USAA credit card relatively easily. I pretended I was making a payment, and at the point where it asked what bank account the payment should be from, I said I wanted to add an account.
That went fine. The problem arose when I then wanted to remove the old account. I searched all the places that looked like they might be right, and couldn’t find it anywhere.
I initiated a live chat to get some guidance. The person helping me in the chat gave me instructions which were wrong in multiple ways. First they told me to go to the “My Accounts” page, but there is literally no “My Accounts” button or link visible to me anywhere on the USAA site. They they asked, “On the Welcome page next to the account you are wanting to remove is there a drop down box?” However, the account I wanted to remove is not listed on the welcome page.
Finally, they gave me the correct instructions: first click on the credit card I want to remove the payment account from, then under “I want to” click on “Pay Bills”, then finally under “Account Services” click on “Manage Payment Accounts”. Very intuitive, right? :facepalm:
OK, this one’s debatable; I’m not actually convinced this problem I ran into was actually a problem. My daughter off at college lives in an apartment whose rent I pay, and the management company for the apartment building uses AppFolio.com. When I want to update the payment info for the rent payments, I was unable to do so because the monthly payment was originally set up by my daughter, not by me, and even though she gave me access to the AppFolio account for her apartment with a separate login.
When I logged in using her username and password instead of mine, I was able to update the payment info, but it didn’t go entirely smoothly. I told the site that I wanted to set up auto-pay, and then entered the new bank account information. It asked me whether I wanted to overwrite the saved bank account information or just use the new information I entered this one time, and I said overwrite. Then it moved on to the next screen and displayed this message: “Note: you already have an active autopay set up. Please make sure you are not creating a duplicate payment,” so I canceled at that point. I thought that meant that I had successfully overwritten the bank account info with new info, but nope! I checked, and it was still the old info. I tried again: this time I clicked on “show details” under the scheduled auto-pay, which brought me to a page where I could click “Edit”, and I was able to enter the new account information there.
TouchNet wouldn’t let me add my new bank account information before deleting the old one because “Payment method Old Bank Checking, with the same account number, already exists.” Its web site only compares the account number, not the routing + account number, when determining whether someone is entering a duplicate account.
TouchNet also won’t let me edit the routing number of the existing configured bank account.
TouchNet also wouldn’t let me delete the existing configured bank account because it’s associated with an active payment plan.
In short, I was completely unable to update my routing number in TouchNet.
The “Help” button in TouchNet pops up an email window for me to email the tuition office at the university I have the TouchNet account for, which is mostly useless since this isn’t a problem with the university, it’s a problem with the third-party TouchNet app. Nevertheless I emailed the university.
This resulted in a saga of its own, in which I had to have at least four different telephone conversations with two different people in the university accounting office, re-explaining the problem multiple times, before one of them finally figured out how to solve the problem (they had to delete my old bank account on their end, since I wasn’t able to do it, after which I was able to add a bank account with the new routing number).
When I logged into the National Grid payment portal in Google Chrome and clicked “Change Bank Information”, I got a page with a header and a footer but no contents:
The same problem occurred in an incognito window.
(Incidentally, one of the developers of their web site apparently thought it would be useful to see the dimensions of the browser window when it’s being resized, because when you go to resize this window the dimensions of the window in pixels appear in the upper right corner and change as you resize it until you stop resizing. Amusing!)
I was able to access the page successfully in Firefox and update my bank information there. I sent a message to National Grid pointing out that their web site does not work properly in the most popular web browser, but I’m not holding my breath for a useful response, given that their web site looks like it was built in the 90’s.
After submitting the updated information in Firefox, I got this: “Thank your for your Bank Information change request. Please allow 10 – 14 days for your change to be processed.” Absurd.
Google Pay’s problem was similar to Smart Tuition’s as described above: after I added the new bank account, the label displayed for it was identical to the label for my old bank account, since it didn’t show either the name of the bank or the last digits of the routing number, so I couldn’t figure out which bank to account to remove to get rid of the old one. I ended up deleting both bank accounts and then adding back the new one.
Synchrony Bank for Google Store Financing card
Everything seemed to be going great. I went to the easily found “Manage Payment Methods” page in the web app and added my new bank account. I went to the easily found “Manage Autopay” page, edited the settings to change the payment method to the new account, and clicked “Save changes”. It claimed the changes were saved correctly, and it briefly displayed the new bank name on the page, but then the displayed bank name changed from the new bank name back to the old one.
What is probably going on here is that which bank name to display on this page is keyed off of the account number, and the old and new accounts have the same the same account number, and it’s picking the wrong one to display. I confirmed this by deleting the old bank account info from the app and then going back to the “Manage Autopay” page, and the account display there had switched by itself to the new bank account name.
I was able to add the new bank account info and change the direct-deposit configuration for a claim that I currently have open to point to the new bank account instead of the old one. However, even after doing that the web site still claimed that the old account was being used for claim direct deposits, and when I went to remove the old account, it claimed that claim direct deposits would be disabled as a result. I could not find any indication anywhere on the site that the old account was being used for claim direct deposits in a way that I could edit. My best guess is that it was used for claims direct deposits on some old, closed claim that is no longer visible on the web site. Not a great user experience. :shrug:
This mostly went OK, though finding the area of the web site where bank accounts are linked was a bit challenging, and Fidelity made me do the whole test-deposits verification thing, which isn’t ideal.
The sites that did it right
Since I’m here bashing all the sites that made this hard to impossible, it’s worth mentioning the sites that got it right.
I was able to update our bank account with little fanfare at: InvoiceCloud, Namely, Venmo (via Plaid), Paypal (via Yodlee), Cash App (via Plaid), Eversource, SRECtrade, FACTS Tuition Management, Dominion Energy, Boston Water and Sewer Commission, Bill.com, and Carta.
The internet is bad.