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back to article The bank that likes to say... crash: TSB's online banking goes titsup on launch day

The newly single Trustee Savings Banks (TSB) has been hit with major website problems on the first day of its split from Lloyds. The two banks are pulling apart ahead of the sale of TSB, which the European Commission set out as a precondition before the government bail-out of Lloyds during the banking crisis. Some five million …

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Facepalm

What's the point?

How does spending god-knows-how-many millions on rebranding and splitting systems to create a separate bank actually help anyone at all? Surely all it does is drive up costs, costs which inevitably get passed on to the customers.

And no doubt in a few years time, when the newly independent TSB is struggling, it will get swallowed up again by one of the giant institutions.

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WTF?

Re: What's the point?

Not actually Lloyd's choice. Pretty much imposed on them - can't remember if it's by the UK government or by European rules - but definitely an externally-imposed requirement.

However, re "What's the point?"... Feels strange to feel sorry for a banker, but first they were pretty much forced to buy a failing bank "for the good of the country", and then got told "you're too big now - sell some stuff off".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's the point?

Not only were they bailed out, with this as a condition, were they not bullied into taking on HBOS? with its massive debt and liabilities that were way higher than they knew?

I.e. Gordon Brown Shafted Lloyds TSB as much as he shafted the rest of us.....

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Anonymous Coward

I feel The Register is turning into Watchdog #WTF #twitterasasource @thepub

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No trustees

The current TSB is *not* a Trustee savings bank, it is *not* owned by trustees on behalf of its customers. It is a bog standard private (publically listed) company.

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Re: No trustees

And the Royal Bank of Scotland isn't Royal, isn't Scottish and the only similarity to a bank is that they are a(a) broke and (b) have little pens on chains.

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Anonymous Coward

Not pseudo-1998... but very "several years old" looking in general

Reading that comment about the site looking like it was designed in 1998, I assumed it would be an unsuccessful attempt at the current "flat" design aesthetic (*), i.e. not literally 1998 but overly plain. That'd at least suggest they knew what they were going for but not quite getting there. In fact... no.

The small "TSB" logo actually has *jaggies* round the circles, like it's been rescaled without antialiasing. That, at least, *is* something I wouldn't expect to have seen for the main graphic on a corporate site in this millennium. As for the rest...

The tabs use that now-dated shading, gradients and rounded edges, and the whole thing looks small and shoved to the side even on my 1280 x 1024 4:3 monitor. It actually *does* have a very dated feel to it... maybe not 2003, but certainly 2003-06.

(Okay, maybe the use of pink and sky blue is a nod to a more recent colour trend, but even that seems to have passed its peak a while back).

(*) Something I do find refreshing after the overuse of "plastic" effects and horrible bland gradient shading in the Web 2.0 era, and which can look clean and bold... but also carries the risk of looking flat and underdesigned if not done well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not pseudo-1998... but very "several years old" looking in general

That is just Lloyds in general, they are backwards, 10 years out of date and slow to react to anything.

When they took over HBOS they moved the majority of the services to Lloyds' antiquated systems. When question about loss of functionality, the typical answer was either this is the "Defender Position" or "they (the customers) will get over it".

Posted anonymously cos I work there :(

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Re: Not pseudo-1998... but very "several years old" looking in general

Wow, I don't usually bother to comment on such things (I mean, this website keeps blank sides for some such use, wish I knew why ;) ), but wow! The TSB site is tiny on my screen. Takes up only the left half.

Is HTML not suppose to scale to your screen? Or is everything now postage stamp and side scrolling because we all have "tablets"?

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Re: Not pseudo-1998... but very "several years old" looking in general

I'm assuming the site's just temp.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not pseudo-1998... but very "several years old" looking in general

Woah, a few out of work web designers want to criticise the website ? I wish more banking websites were a bit plainer and easier to understand like TSB have tried to do. I regularly use the HSBC webshite which, when it isn't spamming me to install low-quality "anti-spyware" crapware is hiding every useful button under a huge, flickering giant drop down menu offering a million things I have never ever wanted. Similarly the Citibank excuse for web presence also offers every single link to every single department with enough clout to bully the website firm into including their pet part of the bank on the front page. AND A MESSAGE SYSTEM THAT DOESNT ALLOW ANY PUNCTUATION STOP SO IT FEELS LIKE IM WRITING A TELEGRAM COMMA WHICH IS VERY EIGHTEEN HUNDREDS EXCLAMATION

So I don't think the TSB one is that bad considering the very 'muddy' field it is standing in.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not pseudo-1998... but very "several years old" looking in general

It's just a reskin of the old Lloyds TSB site, which Lloyds has only recently updated. Why they didn't reskin the new design I don't know. Bloody awful.

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Re: Not pseudo-1998... but very "several years old" looking in general

I noticed yesterday when I was poking about, the corporate site looked like it was designed for an 800x600 resolution of 15 years ago.

Clicking on the internet banking, it did come up with a reasonable resolution at that point, though without an account (I told Lloyds TSB where to go years ago) I couldn't test it.

I also noticed this disclaimer, I'm not sure how they would hold up 'be careful now!' in the law courts:

"* As long as you've been careful, for example, by taking reasonable steps to keep your security information safe. We protect you with safeguards that meet industry standards."

The jagged logo comes from "http://www.tsb.co.uk/media/tsb/new_homepage_images/for_the_journey_logo.jpg"

Which looks like it is just a copy of an old Lloyds TSB logo, to the name, with someone using MS Paint to shoehorn the TSB logo on top.

It looks like a wireframe prototype that someone has accidentally fired into production...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not pseudo-1998... but very "several years old" looking in general

Odd I find Lloyds TSB a better bank than most, well Lloyds now I guess, lets see how they go alone...

Sure Lloyds systems may 10 years out of date, but compare that to what I've seen running at other banks makes me shudder..... I sometimes wish I had never seen any of the inner workings....

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Anonymous Coward

Outdated?

I last had direct dealings with TSB in around 1993, and even back then they acted about 20 years out of date. My last correspondence with them at the time was advising them never to contact me again about anything... Ever.

20 years later I find my Cheltenham and Gloucester account is actually part of Lloyds and has now been re-branded as TSB. Ho hum. Time to switch accounts I guess.

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Re: Outdated?

But to who, they are still all as bad as each other.

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Anonymous Coward

Why build a new brand

What I can't understand is why they decided to reanimate the old TSB moniker, with all the costs of rebranding branches, launch-day marketing and whatever other costs, when they could have divested the Halifax, which still has its own strong high street identity, so much so that some people don't realise it's owned by Lloyds.

Anon cos I also work there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why build a new brand

Because they want Halifax and it's mortgage book because it's precisely because it has it's own identity, so much so that many people don't realise it's a Lloyds Brand. Plus the Halifax Mortgage book - which probably would have to be divested along with the branches is massive compared to Lloyds and is much more valuable than TSB's - Still Banker greed.

The cheaper and quickest option would have been to declare the takeover null and void, it would have saved all the cost involved in migrating HBOS onto LTSB's crappy systems, the cost of splitting and rebranding LTSB into Lloyds and TSB and demerging the systems, plus who knows how many jobs would have been saved.

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Re: Why build a new brand

I nearly went with Halifax until I leant they were part of Lloyds TSB.

Dodged a bullet there.

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Side question

Can anybody recommend a bank that actually has a modern site and that allows you to do anything interesting/useful with your money that is facilitated by the web instead of just offering some very basic account management functionality.

My bank hasn't changed any aspect of their website in the 8 years I have been with them and I can't help but feel they could have introduced at least *one* new feature in that time...

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Re: Side question

A modern, well designed bank site? I'd suggest you try Barclays! Their apps are particularly good, they even have a proper iPad app which is so much quicker and easier to use than the website.

Shame that I had to move to Halifax... stupid mortgage :o(

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Re: Side question

I have seen Barclays', and it does a lot under the hood. Natwest's is the cleanest and simplest to some degree.

The Barclays now also has a pie chart to show spending with... wait for it... FULL customization. I dreamed of a pie/bar chart as soon as I heard internet banking existed. But never saw one till recently (15 years late?) when Barclays added it.

Using computer power and the internet for what it can do and what the customer wants? Now that's a turn for the books. ;)

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Re: Side question

Nationwide.

At least you're not paying shareholder dividends.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Side question

+1 for Barclays - love their online banking, and their in branch service has got a hell of a lot better over the last couple of years as well. My local one now opens on Saturdays and Bank Holidays.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Side question

Lloyd's internet banking is actually very good in my opinion. It's got pie-charts and all that jazz.

Barclays have terrible customer service if you actually need to talk to anyone or if anything goes wrong (my wife banked with them until recently). I've always found Lloyds' customer service to be great. I've even managed to find a number that gets me straight through to a human without any button pressing needed.

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Re: Side question

@JimmyPage

"Nationwide. At least you're not paying shareholder dividends."

So how do Nationwide pay the coupon (dividend) on those PIBS (Permanent Interest Bearing Shares) they still have outstanding? Pixie dust or Unicorn farts?

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Re: Side question

I would disagree with Lloyds TSB customer service.

Every time I phoned up I got someone on the other side of the world, on hold for ages, then often would just hang up.

If I actually got through to someone, they couldn't understand me, I couldn't understand them, and they'd try and fob me off to just visit a branch (which is difficult since I moved to N.Ireland - TSB here became First Trust).

I usually had to raise a complaint as the only way to get things resolved.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Side question

well I can do all i need on Lloyds site, including international money transfers, view my mortgages, etc...

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Anonymous Coward

@Sir Wiggum

Must be because of where you live..... I don't know how they route calls but I always get through to a Brit in telephone banking... And they are excellent at helping me, never had to send me to a branch to do anything yet...

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Ironically, TSB's online banking was way ahead, once

Yep, back before the takeover, I could do things online, on the phone and at the cashpoint that no other bank supported. Then Lloyds took them over, and knocked out all that goodness, taking ages to catch up. Slightly ironic that TSB now looks so retro.

Mind you given the chance I'm sure it'll try to differentiate itself in the marketplace and this may be a good thing in the long run, shake things up a little.

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http://www.abouttsb.co.uk which is linked to under "who we are" was listed as a reported attack site this morning as well! Well played :)

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FAIL

Titsup on the 1st day you say? Impressive.

Fail that is.

Increasing "competition" in the UK high street (which was part of th eplan for Virgin Money. What happened to that?)

Anybody who wants to know the real degree of UK high street bank competition should get hold of a copy of "Money Facts."

When we get to to things like interest rates (IE paid to investors) the answer is "Not damm much."

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FAIL

The problems with Lloyds online banking certainly aren't all resolved. Somehow they've managed to disconnect my accounts from my online banking. I can log-in to the site and change my personal details, but don't have any access to my money. This has been going on since yesterday and they've told me they don't know when it will be resolved.

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tsb.com

Ok - the comment about the new bank 'allowing' someone else to register tsb.com first is pretty stupid.

A quick check shows that tsb.com was registered as a domain name in 1994. So, maybe the comment should be able how it outrageous that the old TSB bank allowed someone else to get tsb.com before they did.

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Re-animating the dead.

All these comments about the website, I'm amazed that no-one has noticed that this is nothing more than the website that Lloyds TSB used until about a year ago - but with blue instead of green as the main colour and with the name TSB instead of Lloyds TSB. They'd obviously just re-used the code base.

In fact when I first visited the site I didn't even twig, I just groaned and thought that it was exactly the same site. It was only when I went back to the current Lloyds TSB site did I remember that yes, they have actually updated it since then.

So not only have they re-animated the corpse of the TSB (I recall, as a former TSB customer that moving to Lloyds was giant step backwards but I somehow doubt any of what made the TSB better will come back to life with it) but they've re-animated the corpse of the previous Lloyds website and palmed it off on the TSB as "new",

Still, it was 20 years ago this month that, as a university fresher in my first week, I stepped into the Dundee Meadowside branch of the TSB to open my first bank account so slightly ironic that they chose this month of all months to hive that very same branch back off into the TSB again after all this time.

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Re: Re-animating the dead.

Yep, even the image file is the old LLoyds TSB corporate tagline reused...

"http://www.tsb.co.uk/media/tsb/new_homepage_images/for_the_journey_logo.jpg"

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Twitter

Can I make a plea for the omission of tweets from random weirdos in future stories? It's only one step away from quoting the number of "hits on Google" for a particular phrase. I know it pads out a news story, but you may as well ask the fried egg and hash brown bap I had for breakfast for it's considered opinion.

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As a developer put it

"Looks like a monstertemplates.com website"

However could be worse it could be like the RBS website who I used to bank with, the worst pile of shite ever. I have personal co-op bank and barclays business banking. Barclays is definitely better, although Co-op is simple and easy to use.

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You think that's bad...

Anyone ever tried to use Standard Life's "Customer Zone"? It's IE Only for a start so if you use any other browser, the contents of the pop-up (yes - obviously it's all in a pop-up) get rendered about 10000 pixels wide and none of the links work. The design is awful and the interaction just not thought out in the slightest.

The worst though? It's only available during business hours. They actually go to the trouble of turning their web application off after 6pm. You can use it on weekends though, which is cool.

I guess the point I'm making is that finance companies are really behind the times in many ways, their IT systems being the worst.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You think that's bad...

"I guess the point I'm making is that finance companies are really behind the times in many ways, their IT systems being the worst."

True, but think about it - if they had intelligent managers and decent systems, they'd be far less able to blame "the computer" and keep a straight face when they mess up?

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Testing! Or as I call it, "The other half of the job"

Test, then test, and test some more.

Test everything!

Test it isolation.

Test it from end to end.

Test it with loads of data.

Test it with no data.

Test it with wrong data.

Sorry for getting testy, but why bother writing code if you're not going to make sure it works?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Testing! Or as I call it, "The other half of the job" @Crisp

Thanks for the tips. Now try telling the people who actually cocked up. Guessing there aren't any of them here.

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Re: Testing! Or as I call it, "The other half of the job" @Crisp

Everyone cocks something up at some point or another. Even me.

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Boffin

Re: Testing! Or as I call it, "The other half of the job"

Yep.

When I used to be a QAer I asked my web developer friends who performed, or what actions they performed for a QA verification cycle. They looked at me blankly.

They then wondered why, when it went into production, it would come back riddled with defects and incompatibilities in browsers other than OSX Safari.

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Two Accounts Woman

Not impressed with the woman with accounts at two different branches, who knew about the split, knew what would happen, did nothing (like request one of her accounts to be moved) and now whines because they're with two different banks. And the Reg posts this as a legitimate complaint about the split?

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.com versus .co.uk

I see what TSB are trying to do here… trying to get 'local' by using the .co.uk domain.

And I do think that British companies should use '.co.uk' but not even trying to take over tsb.com sounds like folly to me. At the very least it hurts their image - since the cyber squatter there at the moment has a poorer website than TSB, and at worst it could be a security vulnerability - and there is clear liability on TSB's part if some web scum does happen to hack it into a look alike site.

So, even if TSB does manage to gain wisdom and takes over the .com site - who is going to trust it now?

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Thumb Up

Well done The Register, one of the few articles I've see regarding this business that hasn't fallen hopelessly down the Redundant Acronym Syndrome hole. I think the BBC have been the worst offender.

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What's the point of Internet banking?

Is it just me, or is Internet banking an exercise in futility from start to finish?

There are precisely two reasons why I ever visit a bank branch: To draw out money or -- sometimes, and very rarely -- to pay in money. Neither of these are possible over the Internet. I suppose I could use Internet banking to check my balance -- but the only time I'm really interested in that is immediately before making a withdrawal.

Even when I was paying a mortgage, I never felt the need to check that payments were going through O.K. -- I would only have ended up stressing myself unnecessarily.

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Re: What's the point of Internet banking?

- Handy for checking balance at any point (in the sticks the nearest bank machine is miles away)

- Handy for making sure payments come in correctly (eg. salary, eBay selling)

- Handy for making sure payments go out correctly (eg. direct debits, eBay buying - especially as paypal now seems to put a 3 week buffer in)

- Handy for transferring money if needed

- Handy for putting money in and out of savings

- Handy for making adhoc payments

I also agree though that a bank branch is important. Heck, I left my last bank because they closed the nearest branch.

Sometimes you need to pay a cheque in, or need to lift a lot of cash out of savings (to buy a used car privately for example), you just need a bank branch.

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Re: What's the point of Internet banking?

Well, the only way any money ever goes into my bank account (besides me making a deposit through a hole-in-the-wall) is from my employer, and they give me an advice slip for that; and the only way any money ever comes out of it is from me either making a cash withdrawal through a hole-in-the-wall, or sometimes writing a cheque (and I always write the amount on the stub). And anyway, every time I have completed enough transactions to fill a page, the bank send me a statement, which I can check if I want.

Then again, I suppose I'm not most people.

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