Ah, security through sincerity, gotta love it!

Westpac logo

A telephone conversation last night — once the caller had garbled my name and I’d said that it was me, and I’d asked who was calling:

Caller: I’m calling from [unintelligible] on behalf of Westpac Bank.

Me: Before we go any further, how do I know you’re calling on behalf of my bank?

Caller: Sorry? We’ve been given the database…

Me: Before I discuss any kind of personal or financial information, how do I know you’re legitimately calling on behalf of Westpac bank, as opposed to just some person claiming that?

Caller: [sounding confused] Well, I don’t know…

Me: Well, I guess I’ll be hanging up then. Goodbye.

Another point, of course, is why they thought I might want to discuss anything financial at 7.20pm after a long day — when most people are either unwinding or trying to have dinner.

Dear Westpac, if you have something to discuss, isn’t that my Business Banking Manager’s job? During business hours? I was really happy with the service you’ve given me so far this week — and now you’ve ruined it.

[Update 22 December 2011: I failed to credit the originator of security through sincerity, Eric TF Bat.]

The Stairway to Freedom!

Photo of stairs descending to the deserted platform at Gordon StationAs much as one stairway can symbolise imprisonment, another one at Gordon railway station (pictured) is a symbol of Freedom. It’s deserted, but I know there’ll soon be a late-night train taking me somewhere that dinner can be found. Huzzah!

Yes, I really was trapped alone in an office building, with deadlocking doors at the top and the bottom of the stairwell. One of the tenants is Westpac bank, so everything is solid. And I’d already phoned the client’s people but bounced to voicemail each time. I was looking forward to a long night on the stairs. Not.

And yes, I really did post to my website from The Stairway of Imprisonment.

My PowerBook has a battery. It talks Bluetooth to my Nokia N80 phone, and uses the phone’s 3G data link through Vodafone to teh Internetz. I used the N80’s camera to take the photo, and Bluetooth’d it back to the PowerBook for a quick and dirty bit of Photoshop. The photo transfer happened without disturbing the data link too! Impressed.

Luckily, while I was doing all that one of the client’s staff phoned back. I could take the call while still online, too. Hi, Loraine! She only lives 15 minutes of late-night driving from the office, so I was freed soon enough. And right now I’m on a train back to the City. Indeed, I’m posting this story precisely as I cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

The Westpac Experience, Part 2

Westpac logo

I can’t log into St George Bank’s Internet banking right now — presumably it’s overloaded with people like me doing their 30 June thing. So instead I’ll continue the story of moving to Westpac.

After that initial meeting, the cards and PINs and other stuff duly arrived — and as usual the cards didn’t record my name correctly. Now I’m OK with that, having only one name is more than a little unusual. And besides, I’ve never found it useful getting angry when something’s a simple mistake. After all, you want people to help you, and berating them won’t increase their chances of fixing your problem.

So I popped into the local branch to get it sorted.

The staff were friendly and helpful. And they were confident they’d made the right changes to get it fixed. But alas, yesterday one of the replacement cards arrived, and it still had me listed as “Stilgherrian Stilgherrian”. Back to the drawing board…

The test now will be to see how Westpac deal with this. Stay tuned…

The Westpac Experience, Part 1

Westpac logo

I’m changing banks. It turns out St George Bank’s Business Banking Online service only works with Internet Explorer on Windows, which isn’t much use for a Mac-based business. So I’m moving to Westpac — chosen on the basis that since all banks are bastards, I might as well pick the one which is supposedly responsible and sustainable.

But even Westpac seems strangely last-century…

Continue reading “The Westpac Experience, Part 1”

“Business Ethics”: starting a journey

Somewhere in the last fortnight, I decided that my business Prussia.Net should operate ethically. Not that it’s unethical now, but rather that I should consciously work to improve its status as a “good citizen”.

But what does that actually mean in practice?

After all, Westpac makes a big deal of being the world’s most responsible bank, but that’s like saying you’re the world’s most polite gang rapist. “Responsible” or not, they’re still about being a parasite on everyone else’s business transactions.

So far, I’ve figured three things…

  • I should be happy that I’ve given my office manager the flexibility she needs to be a good mother and community participant. And I am.
  • I should see what I can learn from the St James Ethics Centre.
  • I should be happy that I refused to do work for Hillsong Church today — though a soft drink company’s fine, hey, they just sell addictive alkaloid drugs to children.

But I also figure it’s a lot more than just saying stuff, it’s actually about making a real difference. Wish me luck.