I bank at PNC. I like it a lot. It is a huge multi-state banking operation based in Pittsburgh that swallowed National City Bank, my bank, after the financial crisis in 2008-9. I liked National City because they tried very hard to keep the non-local bank local. I thought PNC would not be able to replicate it. I was wrong. PNC had made a herculean effort to localize the banks. The staff is helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. They know their customers by name. It is one of the few places I actually enjoy doing business…and I do business at three of their local branches.
PNC also offers an online service which I also use. Its online bill pay is a bargain at no charge. If it has a relationship with a business, there are direct deposit payments into the payee’s account. If they don’t, PNC actually mails a check at no charge . The cost of printing checks and postage make this a steal. And for a fee, you can tie in your Quick Books program to your bank account for the convenience of single entry. Can you spell “sync”?
I have come to rely on this service in a major way. It’s fast and easy. I can pay all of my bills in a flash. If I miss a deadline I don’t have to worry about the check is in the mail. A few quick keystrokes and my problems go away.
Well…not quite. The flip side to the PNC warm and fuzzy is glitches. You see…you have to be able to access the website. Several times over the past few years that wasn’t happening. The latest was over Christmas. Not only could I not access my account or bill pay, I could not even reach their general website, and I am still having problems today. Through trial and error I was finally able to reach my accounts through a multi-step back door process involving clicking and re-clicking on bad links in proper order. In addition, my tablet app…nice but cumbersome or anything other than information…worked outside of the online system.
Couple that not only to hacking that took place to PNC and other major banks in the United States earlier in 2013, last week PNC announced that some of its teller deposits were improperly credited to accounts, and today it announced that mistaken multiple withdrawals were made to numerous accounts. The good news is that it wasn’t terrorism. The bad news is it the bank’s own software. And all of those nice clerks I mentioned earlier, were clueless there was a problem. They were able to log onto the PNC site on their internal computers just fine. Really?
I got in the habit last year after the hacking issue with the major banks of keeping two sets of books, one online and one offline. That means I am doing double entries, which is inconvenient. At least I know how much money (or lack thereof) I have in the bank. Stopping your snail mail statements in favor of online receipt is problematic. The businesses you patron will not allow you to do both. I opt to still receive paper statements simply because I can’t trust the banks website. How do I know I owe money if I can’t reache the site to which my bills are being sent?
These problems are the problems of all of the major banks, not just PNC which a great bank. But, one can only conclude that if we had a serious hacker attack from let’s say China, Iran, North Korea or any other miscreant we would be in deep doo-doo. Technology is wonderful and convenient and I love using it for all sorts of things. Given the headstrong race into this not so new but still brave new world, are there any contingency plans if for some reason things just stop working?