Posts Tagged ‘banks’

Using Tampermonkey to fix HSBC online banking

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 | Tech

Recently, I wrote about some of the poor user experience encountered when using HSBC’s online banking.

Today, I am going to show you how to fix some of it. These instructions are for users of the Google Chrome web browser. If you use Mozilla Firefox, you can probably achieve a similar effect using Greesemonkey.

Tampermonkey is a browser add-on that allows you to run custom user scripts on existing websites. The first thing you will need to do is install it.

Once you have done that, the Tampermonkey icon will appear in your browser. Click this and when the menu appears select “Add a new script…”. Wait for the page to load, then copy and paste the following in:

// ==UserScript==
// @name       HSBC online banking
// @namespace
// @version    0.1
// @description  Improves HSBC's online banking
// @match*
// @copyright  2014
// @require
// ==/UserScript==

$('#benSortCode').attr('size', '8');
$('#benAccountNumber').attr('size', '10');

This code will then be run every time you access a HSBC online banking page. So, as if by magic, when you try and create a new payee, the boxes will be big enough:


The Big Short

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 | Books

The Big Short is a book by Michael Lewis that tells the story of the 2008 financial crises and some of the people who saw it coming. Lewis is a great writer. He takes a subject which is fundamentally rather dull and boring, and tells stories in such an accessible and engaging way that it is difficult to put it down.

It preaches a similar story to that of his later book, Flash Boys. That is that almost nobody in the banking industry really knows what is going on. They churn out new products and new systems so fast that none of them really understand it. Their, and our doom. But at least it makes good reading.

The Big Short

Direct debit fraud

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 | Thoughts

Did you know what with someone’s name, bank account number and sort code, you can set up a direct debit in their name and clean out their account?

Maybe you did. Maybe you had heard about it but thought it was just an urban legend. Maybe you didn’t. The issue came up in 2008 when someone used Jeremy Clarkson’s bank details to set up a fraudulent direct debit, after be made his bank details publicly available to prove that you couldn’t commit direct debit fraud simply with a few numbers. Of course, you actually can.

Ideally of course your bank details wouldn’t be in the public domain, but for some individuals and organisations, charities like ours for example, it’s fairly unavoidable that they end up getting out there.

This results in rather a lot of direct debit fraud.

The Gym, PureGym, Sky and Elephant are just some of the companies that seem apparently happy to let people pay for their services by using a charity’s name and bank details.

Is to too much to ask for banks to ensure the direct debits are legitimate? At HSBC, you have the option of placing care messages on your account. So you can be notified of all direct debits set up – it’s nice to get a letter to tell you there has been direct debit fraud on your account, but that they let it go through anyway – really reassures you that they know what they’re doing.

Worse still, however, is that we have now blocked all direct debits now need to be confirmed with one of the trustees – yet when I checked the mail the other day I found no less than five new direct debits that had been set up without our authorisation. Ridiculous.


Monday, January 7th, 2013 | Reviews, Thoughts

Last week, we tried to get Elina’s bank account sorted out. When she originally set up the account with Lloyds TSB, they would only give her a cash card account, which is a weird account that has limited functionality, including not being able to use Link ATMs. They kept saying they could eventually change it, but they never have, despite nagging.

So we went into HSBC as I bank with them and have generally had less bad experiences than other banks. They weren’t too happy about doing it at 2:30pm on a Saturday, but eventually agreed to see us. However, they then moaned that we only had two months of bank statements, not three, and so couldn’t continue. So we stormed out of there.

Next we went to Lloyds TSB and once again asked them if they could upgrade the account. They said that their old system that isn’t 100% accurate said no, they couldn’t give her a real current account, but they couldn’t check for sure as their new system wasn’t working. They couldn’t give us a reason either – just “computer says no”, so we left there too.

The next bank along the street was Natwest who aim to be “Britain’s most Helpful Bank”. That is an admirable aim, but then, when you think about it, it’s really like being “Britain’s most gentle rapist” = admittedly more gentle than other rapists, but still ultimately a dick that abuses everyone who comes near it.

So we decided to skip that one and pop in to Nationwide, who are a building society.

They closed at the same time as HSBC, but were willing to set up the account anyway. Indeed, our account manager Shabana actually kept the branch open for us for an extra half an hour while we sorted everything out! She talked us through all their accounts and they immediately accepted Elina for a proper account.

I was so impressed, that I left with a new current account for myself as well! Of course, time will tell whether they continue to deliver on customer service, but so far it has been an incredibly refreshing experience.

Positive Money

Monday, December 17th, 2012 | Humanism

This month at the Humanist Society of West Yorkshire, Simon Wellings presented a talk on Positive Money: A Simple Solution to the Debt Problem. It is a talk similar to the one he had given at Leeds Skeptics, though truth be told, I enjoyed the Skeptics talk a little more.

It was certainly thought provoking as Simon laid out the problems with the monetary system, and much debate followed the talk, though one of the members, who works in a bank treasury, strongly disputed some of the facts in the talk.

Ultimately there were two possible take home messages from the talk – you need to overhaul the monetary system and completely change the way the financial sector operates across the world. Or you need to start a bank.

You want to pay in “money”?

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 | Thoughts

Banks are a joke. While most shops are offering increasingly extended opening hours, most banks continue to open 10-5 on weekdays, preventing anyone with a job, and therefore money, the very thing the banks are after, actually being able to go there and use it.

Luckily, this is gradually, very gradually, starting to change. The HSBC in the city centre now opens on a Saturday.

So last Saturday I headed down there to pay some money in for CWF.

However, when I arrived, I found all the counters closed. So I asked the customer service person standing on the door, how I was to go about paying money in. “I’m sorry sir, we don’t offer that facility on a Saturday. It’s only Monday to Friday.”

Apparently, because I had some coins to pay in, and they don’t operate a counter service on a weekend, I couldn’t actually pay any money into the bank account, despite the bank being open. You couldn’t make it up…

The nerve

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

I wasn’t going to write about this, but so many people have now mentioned it to me that I’ve decided it is worth while commenting after all…

It’s now been six months since Lloyds TSB started the processing of correcting the account they had incorrectly set up and then started billing our charity for. They’re still working on it. After all this time, you really have to wonder if they ever will get it done.

This is a bank of truly incompetent scale – no wonder they had to sell 77% of it to the government as part of a £37,000,000,000 bailout from public funds to the major banks. That’s about £800 each btw.

So what did such a bank do with all it’s ill-gotten gains from hard-working taxpayers?

They spent £40,000,000 sponsoring London 2012. As if the tax payer hadn’t paid enough for the Olympics already, Lloyds TSB are now taking our emergency bailout money and spending it on making itself a sponsor of London 2012!

Not only that, but this is only the money paid for the sponsorship deal – and one imagines that the expenses of having a party bus follow the Olympic torch around and anything else rack up to quite a bit. In fact, they’ve even made a website about everything their blowing money on this summer.

It’s absolutely unbelievable.

It’s all going a bit wrong

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

I’m not going to use the phrase economic crisis because we’re not in one. Everything is fine. The only reason we’re in a recession because we decided to call it a recession which then scares everyone and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. I would however like to throw a few ideas out there on the current economic climate.

Government’s all over the world are in the middle of nationalising banks. Like everywhere. Iceland’s Glitnir, which I’m told was a rather large bank, has recently been nationalised. Here in the UK, Bradford & Bingley have just gone. We’re still bailing out Northern Rock. Me, my tax money is bailing them out.

Point is, this isn’t how a free market capitalist economy is supposed to work. There shouldn’t be government bail outs, a free market only really works when the market is free. Companies go down, other companies take their place, circle of life and all that jazz.

Surely the way to encourage economic growth in such times is to increase the capitalist freedoms and reduce the socialist state rather than the current trend of increasing the socialist state with government bailouts and suprise taxes. Slash taxes, slash minimum wage, make it more profitable to actually generate profit than go cap in hand to the government.

We’re all moaning about these huge salaries the city big wigs are getting paid then coming to the tax payer for the bail out. Who can blaim them? That’s just common sense. They don’t lose it all when their company goes down to the toilet, most boards are remaining intact when the company is nationalised. Who wouldn’t take up that offer?

If we’re going to this whole capitalist economy (which we are, because it works, get over it) we should just get on with it. The world economy well go down the pan if government’s don’t intervene. But it will be back again. Bigger, better and even stronger than before.