Sunday, December 10, 2006

UOB Singapore Dumps on Internet Customers

I was making a routine login in to my Internet banking account this evening when I was presented with a new screen demanding that I accept new terms and conditions. The choice was clear - accept or logoff. Since I needed to pay some bills, I clicked on the "accept" box, but not willingly or happily.

This habit of coercing customers into accepting new terms is one of the uglier behaviours to emerge from the move to the online world. Instead of being presented with legible contracts, we are now ambushed with demands for agreement or service is withdrawn. Software companies are fond of this sort of thing as well.

Being the trusting sort of person I am, I tried to copy the terms for later perusal. Cleverly, UOB has prevented copying the text. However, there is a link in micro-font at the bottom of the screen that leads to the terms in the form of a PDF file.

It is a 26 page document! However, the document is locked, not permitting the copying of text.

And predictably, it contains a number of completely one-sided denials of responsibility, and impossible demands.

UOB may send your Username and Password to the customer by any means available. However, UOB has no liability if it is not received or intercepted. Good start.

The customer is responsible for, and MAY NOT DISPUTE, any transaction carried out on Internet Banking.

The Customer may not record ANYWHERE his Username and Password. Hope you have a good memory...

UOB may refuse to carry out any or all instructions for any reason whatsoever.

And my favourite so far (we are only on page 8 of 26)

The Customer must compensate UOB for any direct, indirect or consequential loss and/or damage, without limitiation including loss of profit or interest (whether forseeable by you or not) suffered by UOB.

When is the Monetary Authority of Singapore going to stand up to the local banks and end this manifestly one-sided abuse of customers?


Bill Claxton said...

I totally agree with your comments on UOB's one-sided agreement sprung on unwitting customers. Most of us pay no attention to T&C agreements, but I had a look as you did, and this is one of the worst shrink-wrap type agreements I've ever signed. It also has provisions to give customer contact details to other organisations for marketing or other purposes.

I myself called UOB to complain and spoke to a senior manager. I pointed out to him:

a) The agreement is unreasonably one-sided.

b) Customers are not given any hint of its content by the way in which it is presented. I suggested that it should be tied to the new two-phase authentication service, which should be described and then the user asked to accept the terms in order to use the new service. Instead it is imposed as a requirement before existing customers can even access their accounts, which most will do blindly and just ignore the consequences.

c) I pointed out that the Business Internet Banking does not yet support IE7 (you can use Firefox as a workaround, but it's buggy). The bank should at least warn customers that by upgrading to IE7, they would be unable to access their bank accounts using Internet.

Please blog again and often about the one-sided way in which UOB is handling online customer service. It's bad, very bad.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for bringing this one-sided agreement to my attention.

I rang UOB's call center to express concern and was told that they have issued an updated version of their Internet banking terms and conditions. The hyperlinked version in the blog post is November 2006; the new version is December 2006.

I shall read this new edition with avid interest.

Anonymous said...

btw - how do you guys actually login to the systme on Firefox or ie7? I cannot login with either one. is this bank so low-tech that you can only use ie6? email me at t1c52002 at gmail if you can help. Thank you.

whanafi said...

I use Firefox 2.003 without problems under Windows XP Pro SP2. I don't have Windows Firewall turned on as I use a hardware firewall.

I haven't had a problem with the UOB site, other than the fact that the login for tokens is badly designed, and the logout button is where the login button is supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

So is it only UOB or every other bank in Singapore that presents these TnC? If so just complain to MAS straight or write to the Straits Times lor..