Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bank of America: little problem with duplicate descriptions leads to accidental past due

Although on my blogs I don’t “complain” about specific companies much (for reputation reasons), I will go on with another bout of constructive criticism today. The previous post was about Microsoft and maybe NVidia; today it’s about Bank of America.

I have an MBNA Visa and an MBNA Master Card with BOA, and BOA purchased this business from the Delaware MBNA bank about two years ago.

When I make my payments onlne, my checking account detail online shows “MBNA Credit Card” as the payee. It doesn’t say Master or Visa in the description. So, after looking at my payments, if I accidentally go to the wrong payee, I won’t catch it. This happened, as I paid Visa twice, and now see I owe Master card a $39 late fee, and down goes my FICO score.

I’m fixing it to erase the past due, and then when that processes I’ll call them and ask them if they will credit back the $39, as this is partly a system problem.

I could say that if the descriptions come off a relational database and it is properly normalized, this shouldn’t happen.

I have to mention that the “Outgoing Payment Queue” in Bill Pay does name Master or Visa, so it doesn’t use the same descriptions. I don’t know why.

The duplicate description problem is more likely in an arrangement where a company processes legacy data on an IBM mainframe (probably with DB2 and CICS and conventional batch cycles with programs largely in COBOL), and then replicates to a midtier and uses something like a java data analysis layer and a GUI, perhaps in PowerBuilder.

If BOA would fix the duplicate description (for customers who have Master Card and Visa cards), past dues would go down (as mistakes would be caught) and the BOA’s statistics would look better to stock market investors. It’s a little thing, but good IT means paying attention to the little things. It’s in their self-interest to fix the duplicate descriptions promptly.

What you hear about more often is problems around cash advances, with multiple overdraft fees on debit cards.

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