Case of Usability Failure: Bank of America Online Banking

Bank of America’s Online Banking has had a long history of awards, and at the time of this writing it has over “one million of active mobile banking customers” [source]. The bank  holds the “Webby Award and Webby People’s Choice Award in the online banking/bill pay category” for the year 2006 (and 2007 as well), and the “Global Finance magazine named the best consumer online banking site in the U.S.” too [source]. The 2008 Bank Monitor Awards (by Corporate Insight) also crowned the Bank of America with a number of award for their “variety of ‘well-cultivated tools'” and other advantages of their online banking system [source]. However, they too have room for improvement.

Yesterday I was trying to wire money from a business account to an outside-the-bank account (something that I have previously done from my personal account with them), and you can see what it all turned out into from my video below:

There is no excluse for an online service to kick you out of their system when an action is impossible. Just imagine (or any other online store) doing this during the checkout process! At best, it makes the end user think that something is wrong on his/her part, and they retry it again. I lasted 5 trials (at different times during the day), and only when I caught one of their “online assistants” on the line, I was told that this is not something that you can currently do from a business account. That is fine, but the customer doesn’t have to keep on trying for 5 times (or even 2, to be fair), and then call — to find out about this. The beauty of e-Commerce (and I certainly include online banking in it) is precisely in the automation of things. In the above case, the bank can make two things to improve the current state of things:

  1. Make it impossible to proceed with the transfer information as soon as the end user chooses a business account as one that the wire is originating from
  2. Display a message explaining why the transfer cannot be completed [less preferable option, because it will still make the customer loose time on entering all information before they find out that it’s not working]

Logging the customer out (without any explanation provided) when he/she is requesting a service you seem to offer is equivalent to kicking him/her in the a** out of a physical branch’s door (again: without any explanation provided).

5 thoughts on “Case of Usability Failure: Bank of America Online Banking”

  1. Wrong. It’s worth $300 these days. Lol.

    Justice be done, I have just checked it the system again, and less than 48 hours after this post (+ video on YouTube) and exchanging tweets with @BofA_help they have fixed it all! Now transfers from business accounts are possible as well.

  2. we’ve been unable to access our account for seven days and were told it would be fixed by Mon the 23. We were also told it was a system wide failure. What’s going on? Previously we have had good on-line banking since 2004. Only once when we logged in and could view some guy in south carolina’s account. ( what a big time spender ) did we ever have any trouble. Well, Wells Fargo here we come.

  3. Judi, sorry to hear about that, but I’ve been accessing my online bank account just fine over the past 7 days. So, it’s definitely not a system-wide failure.

    The fact that by logging in you were able to view another person’s account is what’s really strange and worrisome! Have you reported this to BofA?

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