Is Barclays Internet Banking too secure?

Having spent around five months fighting with Orange over a messup their system made on my account, I’m already fed up of call centres. So when my PinSentry security device from Barclays gave up the ghost last night, I was straight on the phone to report it.
The PinSentry is a small keypad device with a slot in the top for your debit card. By entering your PIN number, it gives you an 8 digit code which you enter into the internet banking website along with the usual other credentials. This has replaced doing the mental gymnastics selecting random characters from your memorable word and the theory is that it makes the process of being secure simpler.
The trouble comes from two main flaws with the PinSentry:

  1. You remember to take the PinSentry device with you wherever you go in case you want to login to your Internet Banking.
  2. Your PinSentry device actually works and doesn’t die in a fit of apathy.

So last night I rang up to ask for a new one, to be informed that the department I needed to speak to was closed for the evening and I should ring back today.
Today, I decide to go and use the kiosk in Barclays to print out the statement information I was after and while I was in there I asked to see if the bank had any in stock. This to me would be a sensible backup for a bank. How silly of me, of course they’re a completely separate arm under the same name. It reminds me of BT and BT Internet appearing to be linked by name but hopelessly devoid of love for each other.
So the woman in the bank gave me a leaflet with the number to phone, so I called them. The summary of the conversation goes like this:

  1. Recorded message telling me unforseen circumstances have hit Barclays (gasp) and I’ll be put in a queue
  2. Start to lose the will to live listening to the myriad of ways I can use the website to do many tasks I don’t need to do
  3. Finally get the normal choice of if I’m calling about a Business, Premier or Personal account (feeling decidedly a 3rd class Barclays citizen yet?)
  4. Eventually get to speak to someone who asks for my membership number, which thankfully I’ve typed enough times to retain in my brain (despite them not asking for the first 4 digits anymore so that might ‘curveball’ any new customers remembering the full thing).
  5. Once she’s taken my details, she asks if I’m ok being taken through ‘Security’. I thought this would be obvious if I want to actually DO anything with this call.
  6. She asks me the usual three questions and when I’ve jumped through the hoops, she thanks me for completing security. It’s less of a pat on the back; more like a confusing attempt at extracting a forced feeling of how patient you’re being
  7. Only at THIS POINT, does she now start telling me that she’s sorry but she cannot place my call to the appropriate department ‘because they are in a meeting today’. What all of them? Is this two blokes and a room full of PinSentries in cardboard boxes who have gone on a Team Bonding day without leaving any cover?
  8. I am advised that I should call back tomorrow morning.
  9. I ask if she can advise that department that I’m in need of a PinSentry or even for a callback. No can do.
  10. Call ends

No internet banking for me then. This system is all very well; trying to make logging onto a website simpler by using your card PIN number instead of yet another password.
It falls down when you meet a badly organised outsourced foreign country team who are the equivalent to budgies and tweet out whatever is displayed on their poorly written response screens.

Barclays: You have failed to provide the service due to failing hardware. Now you have failed to allow me to get hold of a solution to your problem because you won’t let me access my data.

Both Orange and Barclays are in detention now. If they complete 500 lines of ‘I must not employ airheads using rubbish Customer Relationship Management software’ then I might consider keeping my business with them in the future.

2 thoughts on “Is Barclays Internet Banking too secure?”

  1. You frustrations sound familar as is too have contracts with Orange, Barclays and BT broadband 🙂

    The barclays internet banking system is as secure as they come and i agree there seems an added level of security with their system, but however frustrating i would rather this than it being a step below whats needed.

    HSBC offer a similar internet banking facility but without the PinSecurity device on all their current account options so perhaps this is an option if you grow frustrated elsewhere.

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