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Bank of America Online Banking: A Critical Evaluation

Bank of America Online Banking: A Critical Evaluation

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Published by bstefans
Bank of America Online Banking: A Critical Evaluation provides a detailed, easy-to-read critical evaluation of Bank of America Online Banking. It argues that the great portion of the bank’s revenue accrued through overdraft fees is often the result of the deceptive and confusing nature of the online banking site.

The average citizen has no choice but to rely on debit and credit cards for many transactions, which are impossible to track on paper due to the ubiquity of virtual transactions. The BoA online banking center, despite its fluffy tutorials and FAQs, does not make this task easier, but rather conceals the increasingly complex nature of virtual transactions.

This analysis, while informal, integrates the new fields of software studies and data visualization with perennial complaints about the abuses of the banking industry. It argues for a complete transformation in how online (and other forms of virtual) banking is conducted rather than the cosmetic policy changes of recent years.
Bank of America Online Banking: A Critical Evaluation provides a detailed, easy-to-read critical evaluation of Bank of America Online Banking. It argues that the great portion of the bank’s revenue accrued through overdraft fees is often the result of the deceptive and confusing nature of the online banking site.

The average citizen has no choice but to rely on debit and credit cards for many transactions, which are impossible to track on paper due to the ubiquity of virtual transactions. The BoA online banking center, despite its fluffy tutorials and FAQs, does not make this task easier, but rather conceals the increasingly complex nature of virtual transactions.

This analysis, while informal, integrates the new fields of software studies and data visualization with perennial complaints about the abuses of the banking industry. It argues for a complete transformation in how online (and other forms of virtual) banking is conducted rather than the cosmetic policy changes of recent years.

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Published by: bstefans on Jan 18, 2010
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Bank of America Online Banking:A Critical Evaluation
Bank of America Online Banking: A Critical Evaluation 
provides a detailed, easy-to-read criticalevaluation of Bank of America Online Banking. It argues that the great portion of the bank’s reve-nue accrued through overdraft fees is often the result of the deceptive and confusing nature of theonline banking site.The average citizen has no choice but to rely on debit and credit cards for many transactions, which are impossible to track on paper due to the ubiquity of virtual transactions. The BoA onlinebanking center, despite its fluffy tutorials and FAQs, does not make this task easier, but ratherconceals the increasingly complex nature of virtual transactions.This analysis, while informal, integrates the new fields of software studies and data visualization with perennial complaints about the abuses of the banking industry. It argues for a complete trans-formation in how online (and other forms of virtual) banking is conducted rather than the cosmeticpolicy changes of recent years.
Contents:
IntroductionChapters
1.
 
“Perhaps I am not good enough”—the new guilt paradigm
2.
 
The Clarity Statement
 3.
 
The InfoCenter 
 4.
 
The search function in the banking center 
 5.
 
“Cascading” and “cascade” in the search results?
 6.
 
Where are the pending checks?
 7.
 
Important information about funds is spread across several pages
 8.
 
The criminalization of the U.S. citizen
 9.
 
Reviews of online banking sites are extensions of public relations
 10.
 
Conclusions
 
Appendix I: Screen Captures from the BoA websites
 
Appendix II: “The Card Game: Overspending on Debit Cards Is a Boon for Banks”
 
Appendix III: “5 Sneaky Overdraft Traps”Appendix IV: Escalating a Complaint and the Executive Email Carpet BombAppendix V: Final Chat Session with Bank of America Customer Service
 
 
 
“I go on to the bank and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life…”—Frank O’Hara, “The Day Lady Died” (1959)
 
 
Introduction
It’s no secret that the Bank of America, like all major banks in the United States, relies on incomefrom overdraft fees for the maintenance of their business, and perhaps their growth. I’m passing for now on the exact figures involved, but this material is available on the internet 
1
. My concern is with a detailed analysis of BoA’s banking center and how, despite the great amount of money they put into it—it is commonly rated very high among bank websites, despite the flaws in these generalevaluations—the concern with BoA is with furthering advertising their product (or products, includ-ing items for sale) than for creating a streamlined, accurate experience for their users. My belief isthat the BoA is aware of the amount of “fluff” that is on their site, not to mention the very contra-dictions inherent in its construction—that is to say, useful information about using the site is buried within it, while the less useful fluff is put forward.My theses are the following: A.
 
The information on the website is presented as a continued form of advertisement, not inthe spirit of instruction. Warnings about possible mistakes are not highlighted, as would bein any commercial software package. Graphics are distracting, and page layout is used toemphasize the “positive”—how easy and attractive each feature is—rather than the “nega-tive”—where you can make mistakes and the repercussions which, in this case, unlike in Adobe Photoshop or Facebook (or even free, very simple software programs on the web),can be detrimental to your bank balance. As an additional contrast, medical items such asinsulin pumps—I use one—always emphasize the possible dangers of misusing the software.B.
 
The information presented on the website is incomplete where it could easily be complete,given the availability of this information on other websites (I’m using the Wells Fargo web-site, as well as social networking sites—the types of sites that set the standard for most young people today—as comparisons). Examples of the incompleteness of this information in-clude:1)
 
only providing records of transactions for the past 6 months (or, on the “AvailableBalance History” page, 3 months), which, of course, is not enough information topermit review of previous overdraft charges to contest a history by the bank of abuses, or to cite precedents for seemingly reasonable behavior by a customer inregards to handling of funds2)
 
not providing information on checks that have been paid through Bill Pay on thesite that have not yet been presented to the bank,3)
 
spreading information about debit card purchases over several screens, reserving in-formation about PIN purchases to the main accounts page and reserving informa-tion about signed debit purchases to the Accounts History page (misleadingly titled
1
 
One
 
devastating
 
analysis
 
of 
 
the
 
banking
 
industry
 
and
 
the
 
amount
 
of 
 
income
 
it
 
gathers
 
from
 
various
 
fees
 
and
 
overdraft
 
penalties
 
published
 
in
 
September,
 
2009
 
in
 
the
 
New 
 
York 
 
Times
 
is
 
included
 
as
 
an
 
appendix
 
to
 
this
 
docu
ment.
 

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