Updates – in the end!

Imagine this scenario.

You need something quite desperately. You find a shop that sells that product/service and enter it. You pick what you wanted and go to the billing counter, only to be told that they are not selling *anything* in that shop at that point in time because of an unknown reason. They also ask you to come again later and try!

Well, that is precisely how I felt when I logged into HDFC Bank’s online banking site this morning.

I have a credit card overdue…who doesn’t? I have been traveling like crazy over the past 20 odd days and don’t even recall when my BlackBerry’s card payment reminders alerted me – either I was sleeping at that time or my phone was on mute due to a meeting/call. I rarely forget card payments, but this time, my travels ensured I did.

No fret, I thought. I always pay online, so I can…this time too, I assumed. How wrong I was!

HDFC’s netbanking portal is down since 7:30 am this morning…that was the time I tried it first, today. But it is not ‘down’ down…I can login (enter the shop!), but *every* feature/service/option inside the portal displays this message.

When I say *every*, I mean it – anything on the top horizontal menu and everything on the left vertical menu…everything displays this message.

That begs the question – why even bother allowing people to login in the first place?

I went to a nearby HDFC Bank ATM to make the payment via ATM (I don’t trust cheque payments – have had trouble in the past) – entered my amount and credit card number…got the same message – that an unknown error occurred and I’m supposed to try again later!

I usually do not complain this loudly. I consider myself a patient man and it takes quite a bit of effort to annoy me, particularly commercial services like this where I always understand that they are massive operations involving many things and many people…so things could go wrong and it is completely understandable. But, how a company/brand/organization communicates that makes a lot of difference in that case.

I have had a 10+ year old association with HDFC Bank and have many services tied there – savings account, locker, credit cards, investments, fixed and recurring deposits and even a demat account. I have never felt this disgusted enough to consider closing all those services – this time, I do.

Why? Because the banking service online and at the ATM is down? No, of course not – these things happen and I completely understand the need for downtime.

I’m upset because they did not consider having the courtesy to inform users, in advance, or after it has happened, that the services are down. Or, at the very least, inform people before they login…or not let people login at all, with an apology. These are small (minor!) things that could have made me feel slightly better. But the fact that a bank of HDFC’s stature does not even want to think on these lines is a rather disturbing thought.

I’m reminded of a random Tamil film comedy scene, where a new bank is opened in a village. The bankers are expecting a lot of people start opening accounts and depositing money, but no one comes in till noon. Just before lunch, one guy enters, much to everybody’s joy. He is treated royally and he asks a lot of questions on interest rates, basic banking related stuff and so on. As he sips on the cola drink given to him, the bankers ask him how much he’s willing to invest. He coolly says that he has just bought a lottery ticket that morning and will come back when he has won something!

Think about it, HDFC Bank folks…isn’t that how we feel when you allow us to login and announce (with an apology, for whatever it is worth) that every single thing online is temporarily unavailable and that we should ‘please’ try again?

Also, you need to reconsider the use of two words in that error message – 1. ‘temporarily’ – it is losing its meaning fast, since it is 4.5 hours already and 2. ‘this facility’ – nothing works in the portal, so why bother with the specifics?

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Update 1:

Got a tweet alert that HDFC Bank does have a ‘regret’ message in the login page. This,

But, the above thing comes up only if you go to HDFCbank.com and choose the personal banking link. What if someone (like me) has bookmarked a login page directly? This,

See any error message there? Perhaps they need to relook their login options and streamline them into something better!

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Update 2:

The down-time mentioned on the picture above (the actual login page – not the one I bookmarked) seems to be a timer. In the screenshot above it says it will last till 13:15 hrs. I checked at 13:30 and it said 14:25 hrs. Now I see it says 17:00 hrs!

I sure understand and appreciate the fact that there is perhaps a grave problem that hasn’t been solved by the best of minds, but for heaven’s sake, please do not call it ‘system maintenance’ and stretch the message like a timer, every 1 hour!

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Update 3:

The timer stands at 20:30 hrs now! So, effectively, the entire day! What’s this – they have a 6 day work week online?

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