Cast Off Bank TSB playing with False Economies

BankingBanking EconomicsBanking InfrastructureBanking ServicesOnline BankingTSB+-

Many of you will be aware that I was once a Lloyds Bank customer - Platinum Account Holder - for the vast majority of my 25 years with that bank. I was one of the many that were unceremoniously cast aside into a makeshift bank of deprecated provenance - despite manifold vehement protestations. The irony of Lloyds’ ’By Your Side’ slogan is not lost on me, but in many ways I am glad to be out of that bank - seeing how woefully they still treat their customers.


It was quite evident from the start that TSB was a ’low cost’ cast off - easily judged by its ’cheap’ marketing materials and austerity branch decor. It seems that the whole foundation of said bank was based on budget economics. Lloyds bank really put in as little as it could get away with. One thing though that would have cost Lloyds a lot of money was to set up TSB on a wholly separate web / online infrastructure - and so TSB accounts just piggy-backed off the main Lloyds system - sharing ISBN codes and core online infrastructure.


It was probably part of the initial agreement when Spanish Bank Sabadell Group took over, that they would need to migrate TSB to its own infrastructure and in essence that is what the exercise that started Friday 20th April was all about. TSB though announced its key benefit would be an annual saving of circa £100 million - presumably through using cheaper resources.


What is not currently evident is what sort of migration has taken place - i.e. whether TSB has been merged into existing Sabadell infrastructure, or whether it just sits on its own woefully under-powered infrastructure. I did not even bother to login until a full week after the update started, and even then I was unable to login. I’ve made around 20 attempts so far today to make an online payment - and I have seen a wholly unprecedented amount of errors including ’Session could not be found in context manager’??. I’ve been made to login several times in succession and been forcefully and inadvertently logged out - I got as far as entering an authorisation code, but then the transaction errored out! So that is as far as I’ve gotten so far, and I’ve not yet been able to get close again.


Upon various failed attempts to make a transaction - I find ’Return to accounts’ also sometimes leads to ’You have successfully been logged off’. I must have seen more than a dozen different types of errors, and the onsite experience is not what it was! The new system has a lot of ’grey overlays’ which prevent you entering details or actioning buttons onscreen - sometimes the overlays automatically disappear after some seconds have passed, sometimes not.


Saving £100 million can only be a valid benefit if the same standards of service are maintained or improved. I myself am distrustful of most banks (actually all probably), and categorically believe they do not tend to have their customers’ best interests at heart. To make matters worse for TSB - they are supposed to be a ’Trustee Savings Bank’ - or local community financier and lender, which they categorically are not - my own ’local branch’ is miles away - it’s all just fake marketing puff really - the TSB of old no longer exists at all. The new one was just the most cost-efficient way for Lloyds to cast off some of its surplus customers. The whole process has left me disheartened by the total lack of sincerity and lack of fundamental customer service and consumer charter. And that the new TSB was just cobbled together by reassembling some previously binned and defunct brand assets. Instead of trying to make some tenuous connection to the past, TSB should have forged ahead under an entirely new provenance - but no it seem important to maintain such false constructs of a supposedly rosy past.


As a technical company we are aware of how complex technical infrastructure can be, but equally importantly what can happen if clients try to cut corners and are overly focused on cost reductions over performance and reliability. The default status for any service must be that it is fully functional - which has not been the case for TSB for 8 days in a row now.


I am led to believe that still more IBM software engineers have been deployed to ’fix’ the problems, but I am no clearer on what those problems exactly are? From my perspective, it’s not just the time out errors that worry me, but rather that my account summary fails to load, and that the site is currently so laggy and sluggish that it’s largely unusable. I’m sure a number of customers will vote with their feet - a significant amount of small business have been unable to make payments for over a week now which is crisis point for many types of supply chains - let alone paying staff wages and the like.


I find it somewhat amusing when companies lead on the benefits of cost savings (to themselves) over the improvement of services to customers. It seems that the only major consideration in this current migration was getting it done as cheaply as possible - which increasingly seems to be becoming the mission statement for TSB.


TSB’s current slogan is ’Local Banking for Britiain’ ??- which means nothing really, and is patently false advertising for most. All banks are currently still in the process of cutting down local services and removing local branches. It stands to reason therefore that the digital services have to be top notch to deal with all the actions and transactions that would have been handled at ’local’ branch level.


If a bank cannot get its online / mobile / digital infrastructure working it’s not really a bank at all in these modern times.


As far as I’m conerned currently TSB’s slogan should really as per its current error message:


"Service Unavailable"


(The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later...)

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