Bredbandsbolaget and FöreningsSparbanken - prime examples of lousy customer service

This one is mostly relevant to fellow Swedes, so the rest of you may want to skip it. Or if you’d like to hear about how two of Sweden’s largest companies in their respective industries treat their loyal customers, read on.

FöreningsSparbanken and online banking

First there’s my bank, FöreningsSparbanken (no link love from me to you), which I have used since the day I was born. So far the bank has been good enough to stop me from looking at other options. Now, I’m not so sure anymore. It doesn’t really have much to do with the bank itself. I’m quite happy with the help I’ve been getting from my contact person, and when I recently bought a house, FöreningsSparbanken was the bank that could offer the best loan terms.

The problem is with their so-called web developers. A new version of FöreningsSparbanken’s online banking services has been rolled out gradually for the past several months. I have read on various discussion forums that this new version does not work with Apple’s Safari web browser.

I have contacted the bank’s customer support, trying to get a straight answer about the problems people were reporting with Safari. All I got back were canned answers. I asked just exactly what the problem was, and offered to do whatever I can to help fix it. Still just canned replies.

Well, last week I was switched to the new version, and just as reported, it does not work with Safari. Why that is, I can’t tell. I am not even allowed to login. I called the customer support and was asked to use Firefox instead. Sure, after clicking past the message that informs that there is a newer version of Firefox available (I am using Firefox 1.5.0.1, the very latest version at the time of this writing - how’s that for a broken browser detection script) I am actually allowed to use the service. But that is the entirely wrong approach. The bank has been aware of this problem for months and have apparently done nothing to fix it.

A quick look around the site and at the code makes it obvious that whoever built this online banking service knows very litte about HTML, CSS, usability, and accessibility. Their “HTML” looks like a relic from 1997 and the whole site reeks of practices from last century. Pop-up windows, JavaScript links, inline styles, font tags, layout tables, you name it. Hello! Learn to code instead of telling your customers to switch browsers.

So if anyone can point me towards a bank that does take the web seriously, I am all ears. How does one go about to move house loans from one bank to another, by the way?

Bredbandsbolaget and moving

Then there is my ISP, Bredbandsbolaget (again, no Google juice from me). I didn’t choose Bredbandsbolaget, but when they bought my excellent ISP BoStream I chose to stay. Maybe I should have looked for another provider instead.

A month or so before I moved house I called Bredbandsbolaget’s customer service to ask what I needed to do to make my move as seamless as possible. Their answer was basically that it will not be seamless and there is nothing I or they can do about it. I would have to wait for 3 to 5 weeks for them to move my Internet connection to my new house.

Completely absurd, but again I decided to stay with them and accept being without a proper Internet connection for that long. I am starting to regret that now.

I recently called their customer service to check on the status of my move and learned that they had entered the wrong phone number into their system, and it took them two and a half weeks to realise that. So now they have to start over. A new 3-5 weeks of waiting. And they claim that there is nothing they can do to speed things up. So now you know why there hasn’t been much activity here lately.

But wait, you haven’t heard the best yet. Guess how they communicate with you during the move? That’s right - by e-mail. Hello? And how do you find out what your IP address will be after the move? By ordering one from their website. Really, how stupid can you get? Just how am I supposed to read me e-mail or access their website when I can’t connect to the Internet? It’s like the famous DOS error message “Keyboard not found, press F1 to continue.”

So now I’ve had it with Bredbandsbolaget. I want to get connected again so I can get back to writing articles for this site. What are my options here in Sweden? Anyone have any nice success stories to share?

Update (2006-03-09): Back online! I cancelled Bredbandsbolaget and called Telia, who got me hooked up only 7 days after Bredbandsbolaget finally let go of me (yes, they refused to release my phone number to Telia for two weeks after I cancelled). Seems to work fine so far. The only downside I have noticed is that I have to use Telia’s SMTP server when sending email.

As for online banking… well, I have called FöreningsSparbanken’s support a couple of times, asking when their outdated web developers are going to fix their broken site. The answers indicate more or less complete ignorance. No surprise there, really.

Update (2006-03-16): As of yesterday, FöreningsSparbanken’s online banking works with Safari again. It’ll be interesting to see how long that lasts.

Update (2006-03-18): Well, that didn’t last long. FöreningsSparbanken still works with Safari, but not unless you allow the site to open a popup window for the online banking site. *Sigh.* And the code is still a horrible mess. But I guess they decided that it’s more important to support antique browsers like Netscape 4 than browsers released in 2006.

Posted on February 11, 2006 in Life

Comments

  1. February 11, 2006 by Tobias

    Concerning the “Keyboard not found, press F1 to continue.”-Problem: They want you to get a working keyboard. As soon as you have plugged it in, you can press F1 to continue. They just want to prevent your system from booting without “control”. And you can disable this message and start the system without any keyboard.

  2. I use Skandiabanken as my bank and I’ve never had a problem with them. Their HTML is still a mess though and they use frames but at least it’s possible to get through to them and one of my suggestions even got implemented (a kind of monthly overview of your expenses, real good one).

    Our familiy also had BoStream before them getting bought up by Brendbandsbolaget and before we never had any problems with them. No downtime and helpful customer support.

    After the change it has gotten worse. We where first sent a new modem and two telephone “filters” that looked exactly the same and had no manuals with them. We plugged one of them and didn’t think more about that. After perhaps a week we lost connection and after 20 minutes in phone queue they told us that we had connected the wrong filter. What’s so hard with writing one page of info and send that with all packages?

    We have recently tried to upgrade our connection; it’s 0.5mbit now and we wanted more. Their site reports that we can get something faster and we can complete our purchase on their site. Two weeks later we get an email simply stating that we couldn’t.

  3. February 11, 2006 by Niklas

    Sad to say, but I don’t think there is a single Swedish bank that takes the web really seriously. Never heard of any. But anyway, I read an article in the latest issue of InternetWorld about Ålandsbanken. Seems to be a nice bank …

  4. I think online-banking is at the beginning. My bank, SEB Germany, lacks on HTML-knowledge too. They suggest seriously for their online-banking to use Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and so on. There are Donwload-Links for .exe InternetExplorer to use with Mac and so on. I think, no one cares about customer really.

    Now we has to check the banks and their offers, if they do not understand their business. Change your bank, its the only way, to argue your bank, that quality and knowledge matters first to play with yout money.

  5. February 11, 2006 by Jimmy Nordlund

    While I don’t have any experience with Bredbandsbolaget, I can, as a Mac user and a customer of FöreningsSparbanken, definitely relate to your problems with online banking. It’s just sad to see them pour money and resources into a new version of the site that only manages to make things worse. It’s not like their service was perfect before, but at least it worked and it didn’t lock me out because I like using Safari.

  6. February 11, 2006 by Stefan

    I’ve been using Nordea for the past 2 years and I’m quite satisfied with their services. The site is easy to use, it’s rather well coded (compared to most similar sites) and it supports IE, FF (win) and Safari (mac).

  7. February 11, 2006 by alexander

    Altough failing to write the correct phonenumber for transfer is a serious mistake, the 3-5 weeks delay when moving a broadband connection is something Bredbandsbolaget isn’t to blame for.

    That delay is caused by Telia (or rather Skanova, one of their subsidiaries), since they got monopoly over every telephonestation is Sweden every ISP must go trough them on xDSL services, and they aren’t known for their speed - PTS has recently demanded that this issue (moving xDSL) fixed.

    I know this since I worked at Bostream for some time.

  8. No major help to you but my bank just switched a few months ago to css. http://www.firsttennessee.com/

  9. Handelsbanken here … their on-line precense seems like it was developed in the early nineties :o

    On BB, I had them in my first apartment here when I moved from Iceland almoust a year ago. Then I bought a house (with a loan from Handelsbanken), and they could not provide with a connection at my new house. So I had to switch ISPs.

    Man … that did open a can of worms. Although I closed my connection and sent in all the relevant papers, they still are trying to charge me for some months AFTER I moved out of the apartment. They say they never recieved my fax confirmation, but do agree that there has been no activity on the line since I moved. Some strange people working there …

    Decided to go with Spray (big, big, big, biggest mistake I have made since I moved here). That story is too long for a comment.

    Have now a cable connection with UPC, which has not gone down in months. 24 Mbits, very sweet.

  10. February 11, 2006 by Kenneth Fraser

    Hi Roger,

    Have you checked into ING Direct for banking? They don’t deal with chequing accounts but for any of your savings or loans they can’t be beat, at least in Canada.

    My savings account with my bank was 0.05% interest and I switched over to ING as they offer 3% interest. I made more interest in one month with them than I did in a year at my other bank. They also don’t have service charges which is excellent.

    Their mortgage loans can’t be beat either. My mother switched over her mortgage with them and will save over $20,000 after the house is paid for because the interest rate is that low compared to the other bank.

    Hope this helps, Kenneth

  11. February 11, 2006 by Kenneth Fraser

    I forgot to mention, the ING site in Canada only cares if you have 128-bit encryption and that’s it. Hopefully it is the same in your area.

  12. I checked out the ePlusgiro-service (Nordea, former Postgirot) in Safari when I had read this post, and it seems to work… at least the basics - didn’t try any payments.

    Also tested Ica, just logged in and checked account, and I think this also works with Safari.

    I also use Föreningssparbanken and Firefox (on Windows), and I also get the “There’s a newer version of your browser”-thing.

  13. February 11, 2006 by Per Töyrä

    I totally agree with you! FSB is a joke when it comes to internet-banking. And the error message you get; “Your browser does not support cookies…” it’s bizarre!

    And when it comes to BBB, been there done that. My advice; call them every day, or better, several times every day! My problem was a little different thou, some other ISP had old equipement in the phone station so they couldn’t install my broadband. Took them several weeks to find out who that ISP was so the equipement could be removed. I’ll change ISP as soon as my subscription ends.

  14. four months of waiting when moving bbb here… also got the “wrong number” story… i think the reason is there are no avalible slots for the adsl.

    im changing isps. asap.

  15. I reccomend you to check out Bredband 2.

  16. Another vote says Skandiabanken.

  17. Like Kenneth, I also use ING Direct. I’ve never had any problems using Safari on their site, and I think I’ve also connected once or twice with Firefox or IE/Win or Opera. From a quick look at their site’s code, they use stylesheets, but table-based layout, browser sniffing, and lots of Javascript. I wonder if it works with Javascript disabled…

    Looks like it works fine in Firefox with Javascript disabled, and even works in lynx as long as it is compiled with SSL support and I allow cookies. So, without looking terribly closely at the code or trying to do all of the various things one can do on their site, I’d say that they may not be on the bleeding edge in terms of web design, but that they seem to take things like accessibility seriously. I even noticed an HTML comment about Safari…

  18. After 2 months of fairytales from BBB, I ended up calling Telia, and was hooked up in 9 (that’s NINE) days.

    Initially there was some instability, which Telias very nice and polite customer service had a technician fix it very quickly.

    Being used to TDC and their crappy service, Telia is very refreshing.

    My only gripe with Telia is that they have one of these “Press 2, so that we can wait two minutes of your time, before we que you to talk with the very same customer service person”.

    Hope you get a decent connection, with a decent isp soon. I fully understand what you’re going through.

  19. February 13, 2006 by Tommy Olsson

    I’m quite happy with Nordea’s on-line banking. They don’t officially support Opera, but it works (although it looks rather odd at times). It even works with CSS on/images off, which is what I use on dial-up. (Although the white ‘Log out’ text on a light blue background is almost illegible.)

    It also works quite nicely with keyboard navigation.

    There is a lot of room for improvement, of course, but it’s not bad.

  20. February 13, 2006 by Andreas

    I recently switched from Föreninssparbanken to Nordea (due to loan terms actually.. ;-)) I am quite fond of their internet services as well. They’ve thought about a lot of small things that makes payments and “every-day” operations easy.

    Bredbandsbolaget is probably one of the most pathetic companies right now. I did move to a new apartment in december and it took about 60 days for them to switch. One the way they had succesfully entered the wrong address and hooked up the wrong apartment. Luckily they “communicated” via SMS to me, so we where allways up-to-date. Never with the correct information, but hey… Who am I to cry about that…? ;-)

  21. I’d recommend SEB for banking. Works in safari and Firefox without quirks, and has a good login system with an external login-code generator gadget…

    When it comes to ISPs, I’ve had a similar experience with bredbandsbolaget as yours; slower connection than promised, lots of timeouts followed by hours talking to their phone support. Bostream used to be great, too bad they were bought by BBB… Been looking for an alternative provider for some time, but the only one that seems to be able to deliver to us is ComHem…

  22. I had the same problem with BBB when I moved.

    http://jedisthlm.com/2005/06/30/2-weeks-2-months/

    Also had Bostream before and they really rocked. When I moved they (BBB) changed by connection from 20/10MB to 14/1MB to the same cost, and then the downtime of 2 months.

  23. Just checked Ålandsbanken and they use AJAX to fetch your transactions when searching, looks really nice. Wonder if it will work from sweden?

    I have BBB but I’m on their LAN (I have a network outlet above my front door) and it has been relatively stable. Some issues but none that hasn’t been resolved.

  24. February 13, 2006 by Rob Langdon

    Hey there, I can’t help you with Swedish banking but, just so you don’t feel so bad, I can tell you that in the UK the banking company “Egg” have introduced a Money Manager online app - all your accounts together in one view, cool, huh? Security worries aside - maybe, BUT guess what? A big old message telling me: “You must use Internet Explorer version 5.0 or above with this service”!!!! Are they kidding me?! I’m still awaiting a reply… :( You’re not alone, keep on posting, Roger, you’re teaching me alot!

  25. February 13, 2006 by Adrian Bengtson

    I actually switched to FSB from SHB because of mac support. But that was 1997 i think. FSB hade the very convenient little “dosa” and worked with mac at that time. SHB on the other hand hade this complicated system of certificates and special software that of course didn’t work on the mac nor was very portable, you hade to install certificates on every computer you wanted to use. Not good for a student who wanted to log in to the bank anywhere on any machine at the university.

    That being said, nowadays FSB is very slow with mac support. You may wanna check out this article about this. They says work on Safari 2.0 is being done and hope to get it working in the middle of March (good work - almost a year after Tigers release).

    About BBB: they suck. Our apartments union used to be a happy BoNet custom. BoNet got bought by Bostream and they we’re still god. Then came BBB and bought Bostream and that proved that big isn’t allways better (rather the opposite). When we were to renew our contract for the apartments union we mostly laughed at BBB’s offering compared to the competition. So we switched. The power of being a big apartments union is quite nice in these situation. Now we’ll have 100 Mbit connections for 150 SEK/month.

  26. Sorry no experience with Swedish telecoms but have found the best way to move ADSL over here is cancel it on one line and start again on the new line even if it’s with the same provider. Amazingly it’s quicker that way!!

    Banking, well here in the UK I use Barclays and it’s fine in Firefox and IE but can’t comment on Safari.

  27. That reminds me of a commercial I’ve seen for a phone reconnect service. In order to get your phone reconnected, you have to call their 1-800 number.

  28. February 15, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Tobias: I never heard the reasoning behind that error message before. I guess it kind of makes a little more sense now.

    Stefan, Mattias, Tommy: My girlfriend used Nordea until recently, and while it does work in Safari (for now), I don’t like those silly cards you have to scratch to get a verification code. But I guess that’s better than not being able to use the bank.

    As for Bredbandsbolaget I am cancelling my subscription with them today and taking my chances with Telia ADSL. Faster, cheaper, and they claim they can get me hooked up in 8-10 days.

  29. I’m reasonably happy with Skandiabanken so far. However, Skandia has just been taken over by Old Mutual. Allegedly, they don’t want to be in the banking business and will sell it off to one of the big banks so you might not want to switch to them while their future is uncertain.

  30. BBB sucks, really. Last year we worked with a client that was organising a big event in Gothenburg, with international participants. A couple of days before the event, their ISP (BBB) shut down their connection - without warning - because they were doing a repair job. It turned out the job was planned ahead, but they didn’t care to tell their clients.

    And FSB is just silly. Another big Swedish site that annoys me is SJ’s (the state railroad company) that doesn’t work with Safari.

  31. February 17, 2006 by Markus Lassinniemi

    As someone said, BBB is not to blaim for the long waits when moving your connection. It’s Skanova, a.k.a. Telia. Every ISP - except, of course, Telia - has the same problem. Although, there is some local ISPs who have their own stations - or parts of stations - and they generally tend to work much better. I’m hooked up with Bornet, my local electric distr. and they’re great, at least the ADSL-part. Since they don’t share the stations with Telia, they’re much more stable, a whole lot faster and even cheaper. I’ve had no problems in the recent year, since switching from Telia (who apparently overload the local stations so that people actually have to fight over who’s going to be online and who’s not.)

  32. I have the exact same problem as you Roger! I searched around the web and found a good answer from Föreningssparbanken on macpro.se. So it seems that the problems with Safari 2 should be solved in middle March… Yeah right… I wan’t to see it to believe it! :)

  33. how true. been pretty annoyed at föreningssparbanken too ever since they redesigned the site. and i have, just as you, commented on their lousy browser-detection script but never been deemed worthy of a response. need i say (in case you were wondering) that it’s still there along with above mentioned bells and whistles in the form of pop-ups, js-links and sucky code.

  34. March 3, 2006 by Xander

    Banking service, people working in it, and web development is a little different things. Personally I definetly won’t change bank because of poor designed site.

    The same about ISP.

    I advice you to find first service that 100% perfect, and people working in it never make mistakes. Then move to it - and please tell me you found one!

  35. March 7, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Johan: SJ’s site actually does work with Safari once you dismiss the warning dialog they shove in your face. I have successfully used it to order train tickets many times. It looks a bit funky since they do not seem to know what the CSS box model is, but it works.

    Markus: I know BBB can’t really be blamed for the wait. The main reasons I left them is that they

    1. Lost my move order which caused a two week delay
    2. Tried connecting my account to the wrong phone number, which caused an additional delay of over one week
    3. Would not do anything to compensate me for their mistakes

    So bye bye BBB.

    Jonas: I won’t believe it until I see it either.

    Åke: During one of my conversations with FSB’s support I was given the usual clueless drivel about how browsers act differently on the Mac. I told them that after looking at their code I’m surprised there aren’t more problems…

    Xander: If the bank’s site is more or less the only way you have to do your banking it becomes very important how well-built it is. If banks can’t hire real web developers they shouldn’t be offering online banking.

  36. Roger (#35): In that case Dan Cederholm has advice for them regarding how to handle IE/Mac

    ;-p

  37. March 26, 2006 by Johan Kronberg

    My rule #1: Don’t move somewhere where they don’t have BBB fibre to the building.

  38. April 1, 2006 by Jonas

    You have to remember that it is skanova that require that bredbandsbolaget have to wait for the telephone number to become active on your new adress before they even can send the order to connect you. This is then handled by skanova in 2-4 weeks, depending on how much THEY screw up. Their current order-handling system is a joke that was created as a temporary solution but which has stayed for several years.

  39. Well I use SEB and have generally been very happy with their internet banking, I like the double layer of security with login gadget thing and their site works in Safari no problem.

    Regarding Swedish ISP’s… we had Spray who overcharged us every month, long story, and who mysteriously switched our Optimal telefone account to themselves without our approval! How they did I have no idea, just got a phone bill in the mail one day saying I owed kr to them…

    I have lived in Sweden for about a year and compared to home (NZ) companies here have no idea what customer service is all about. It’s a real bugbear for me everyday as I am sooo used to great service.

    Speaking to my friends we agree there are a couple of good ISP’s, UPC, Telia and Comhem all get thumbs up.

  40. April 10, 2006 by David

    BBB on the other hand have been forced to work with me. I’m also on of them old customers of Bostream from the moment they introduced their services here in Sweden. Now when BBB bought Bostream and should transfer all Bostreamusers to the BBB-net they sent me a couple of emails stating this and that. None of it were realized since they couldn’t do it, which they confessed after that I’ve kept asking for a straight answer from the manager of the customer support.

    It was also a big pain in order to keep my permanent IP, since the ‘new’ package I was transferred to didn’t have that included. So I rang them. Repeatedly until I got to talk with some higher ranking personal which agreed to include it for free for me. Which means every bill now has two lines stating “Permanent IP : 30 SEK” and “Permanent IP reduction : -30 SEK”.

    When they delayed the upgrade, I rang them and asked wtf they were doing. Was told to wait another few weeks before they could execute the move since my move order was lost in their system. Yet again, I refused to accept that answer and told them to fix it or remove me a as a customer. After another conversation with a senior customer support staff I had the choice of terminating all contracts with them right at that moment, or wait for 3 days for them to fix my connection. I choose the latter and since then it’s been working as a charm.

    Oh and about the bank. I had a friend that claimed she was working as a political secretary in the EU when she opened a new account she wanted to connect her VISA-card to. Voilá, she got a ‘ränta’ of around 5% instead of the normal 0.25%. Absurd!

  41. Now we has to check the banks and their offers, if they do not understand their business. Change your bank, its the only way, to argue your bank, that quality and knowledge matters first to play with yout money.

    I suggest you take a look either at NetBank or at your local Sparkasse branch store. Of course with the last there’s this problem that each single branch store does try an own approach to this topic, so we both have quite well-done and quite crappy online banking sites.

    Netbank has been awarded with accesability awards in the past and also works quite good in any browser I know - thanks to proper accessability rules your standard text browser or screen reader should work quite well with their site, too. ;)

    The main disadvantage of Netbank is: they are a pure internet bank - no store front, no people you could talk to face to face.

    cu, w0lf.

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