Entries Tagged as 'Financial'

WalMart Does Due Diligence With Gift Cards Online

While I know this is a way to protect themselves from fraud, I love it when corporations actually call the billing phone number in the billing information to make sure that a large purchase is indeed made by an individual. Since you never know if you’re going to be taken for a ride by an ID thief.

So I got a call a while back on a gift card I had purchased just to make sure that it was going to the right place and it was a purchase I made. Hey, that’s great! I appreciate that since last thing you want to know is that you’ve been had and the purchase actually went through. I love this about Discover, and I love it about WalMart. Now Bank of America could take a hint here in this department. Last I checked, they locked my credit limit but it’s rather annoying when a bank increases your limit automatically and continue to do it when you tell them to stop. Fortunately, you can put locks in place on those types of things like limits.

Discover Bank Needs Work Still

discover-bank Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a big supporter of Discover Card. Out of all of the credit card companies, they’re one of the few that has never done me wrong and has always had great customer service when I needed it. In fact, it’s one of the few out there that looked after my well being and has a rewards program that is definitely a way to promote why you should be using it.

So when they started a promotion with their Discover Bank, I decided to jump on it. A couple things struck me right off and whomever the product manager of Discover Bank should really take heed to this since it doesn’t align itself well considering their online system for the card services is up-to-par with today’s standards of web services.

  • Login and Password from forms – When you ask for personal information from a user, be sure to get every single bit of it so that you can populate logins and such. Nothing from that rewards program notified you that you also had to register for an online system so while you could open an account right away and fund it, you couldn’t get in to check on it because someone forgot to add it into the forms.

    In fact, I had to call the customer service number to have someone walk through why I didn’t have a login. The lady on the other end was very nice although this type of online form issue shouldn’t happen if you have a QA department. You always have someone once-over it a couple times in the place of a brand new user to see what they can break and never make assumptions. Assuming that people won’t click on something is the first no-no in QA testing.

  • https://global1.onlinebank.com – Come on now. URL that isn’t masked or loaded directly? This tells me that not only is the software outsourced, but it’s not on the same level as the web services from card side. For whatever you’re paying ORCC, you should be able to brand it directly. Even on the bottom of the interface itself, has a copyright notice from Online Resourcing Corporation. There is also a lot of web side that needs work but that’s another thing altogether. But overall, a red flag goes up as a consumer when suddenly you go from discoverbank.com to “onlinebank.com”.
  • No EV-SSL? – This is another web side thing that someone should have flagged. While it’s not a huge deal in the security matters, most banking institutions actually do use it to provide more of a peace-of-mind for their customers. I will however say that I did due diligence and found that Discover Card web side also doesn’t use EV-SSL.
  • link checking – Not all of the links on the front page work (check the ones on the footer). I’m not certain if they go to old domains that used to be owned by Discover, or whatever, but there are definitely links that point to nonexistent things. Due diligence again on Discover Card side of it and the link itself actually did exist.

I will say that Discover Card actually sets itself up with these issues. I wouldn’t have thought twice with another card services since I’ve used a fair amount of them and Discover is the only one that always seems to improve their online presence and has an awesome job of marketing their product lines. In fact, I personally probably wouldn’t have used the Discover Bank in seeing the things that I saw above if it wasn’t for the fact that Discover was also marketing their banking line on their card services.

In the future, I would love to see a merger of the two systems. I know that currently since the banking system is outsourced, it’s going to be a while considering I’ve done my fair share of online SaaS products. But from a consumer standpoint, some of the issues above can be fixed rather easily that will in fact increase customer peace-of-mind. Is this something that Discover wishes? I’m sure it is considering they’ve always stood out on that front in my eyes.

Cash Back Credit Cards Save You Money

Prepaid card offered by Green Dot Corporation,...

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I can’t express how much this is important in an economy where times are tough, but why people haven’t been capitalizing on this earlier is beyond me. I’ve actually had a Discover Card since college and it’s never failed to provide me with all sorts of goodies that were just added benefit since I already used the card anyways.
Here’s the really great thing about it all. Cash back rewards cards are entirely useful because if you pay bills with your credit cards, then you automatically get some money back. Be it 1% or more, it’s still money that you earn because you went the extra mile to pump it through a credit line first before applying your check book on it.
Now, the only reason this would SAVE you money is if you reduce your balance to zero every month. And if you do, reap the rewards since you can sometimes even double or triple your earnings with gift cards to restaurants that you would eat at anyways, or splurge on buying a little something for yourself with money that you’ve accumulated from “paying bills”.
Really, the biggest harm in all of this is if you don’t pay off your cards in a timely fashion. But if you’re financially sound and don’t go charging outside your limits, this small boon really helps out in the hardest of times.

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Not understanding bailout politics

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 21: U.S. Sen. Charles Sch...

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Here’s the deal. Where exactly are these bailouts going? I think that overall, Washington is missing the point of the matter. We keep bolstering large corporate structures to “provide, provide, provide” with lower interest rates, better loans, and everything.
But the real problem? Before, the problem was half the problem of the lenders by giving out “toxic” loans, and the other half were borrowers that were getting into loans they couldn’t afford or could barely afford. That’s an issue of financial responsibility.
Now the problem has changed. It was complicated before, but it’s even more so now because the effect is shown with the stock market and how corporations are responding. With unemployment at a high and layoff forecasts not getting any better in the short term, the Treasury and the federal government needs to stop a second and take a look at the big picture.
Our president has come out and said that the stimulus will be judged by job creation, but I just don’t see that happening. Technology is one of the movers and shakers of Wall Street and if you view just that category specifically, most large technology corporations are all in a hiring freeze and dropping serious attrition numbers in both last quarter and this quarter. This in turn will start the vicious cycle of having consumers stop “consuming” which will put them in a savings mode and thus break down retail. At this point? A tax credit for homebuyers isn’t going to cut it, nor will tax cuts. Let’s face the awful fact:
You can’t take advantage of the best sale in the world, if you have no money in your wallet.
And that’s the crisis that we Americans face, as do many others globally. A consumer culture meltdown with billions of taxpayer dollars thrown at the wrong areas. Tax cuts don’t work, mainly because to pay taxes? You have to actually be employed and something actually is going into your wallet from the sweat equity. So when House Speaker Pelosi is criticizing the Senate (whom is also pushing tax cuts) on cutting the money to build schools, I have to wonder what exactly the House Speaker is pushing. I mean, it’s a stimulus plan to help Americans back on their feet, not a “build our future” plan. The fact that the Democrats are pushing for these pet projects on this bill just sickens me.
While I’m thinking about it, the Republicans criticizing the current stimulus plan are not out of the hot seat either. Why? Most of these politicians are the same ones from before the White House administration change. Less we forget, the last bailout plan had a bunch of pet projects that didn’t support the so-called “small businesses are being hurt” type defense. No one is paying here, except really the taxpayers that are fearing for their jobs, or cannot find a replacement.
In the end, the solution to the problem is to provide financial stability to consumers. That means job creation, or perhaps grants or funds to help small businesses expand. Until you put money in the wallets of your taxpayers, they can’t pay taxes nor can they stimulate consumerism. And isn’t that what the entire toxic loans were all about? We just need to address the problems in a LIFO perspective and work backwards as each issue is solved. That’s the only way to ever get out of this mess.

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Why financial services stink when they can’t scale

I have to say that today’s been a terrible day for trading for the average schmuck.
I say that with all the respect for all the other investors that had the same issues. Here’s the deal. It started yesterday when I was watching one financial bank as a possible buy. Now, you would imagine that transfers of money should be instant internally between an financial institution, but it isn’t. Takes a day if it’s not checking or savings. Strike 1 for the average person.
Then today, I placed an order pre-market. Due to financial stocks bringing unusual volume, three different services that I know of after conferring with a friend went down. Bank of America Investment Services, Zecco, and ING Sharebuilder.
With one of these services, I actually was on hold for over ten minutes for broker services. That’s ridiculous when I remember back in the day with Netvest, I had immediate access to my account through my broker. Eventually, I find out that my pre-market order did indeed place even though I had absolutely no access to it since the online services went down.
So the moral of this story? Load balancing and scaling design is extremely important. If you can’t handle either a surge of traffic, or even connections, then something isn’t right. Especially if you’re a large online investment brokerage and on one of the hottest days of trading, your services fail. Not exactly a pretty sign.
Will I still use them? Of course. But it also teaches me that if I want to make moves like the big boys, I need to get a direct line to a personal broker. Investment opportunities always flare up at different moments, but bad design for scaling for these types of services fairly limits the average person’s ability to invest optimally.
Photo Credit: (●๋• Cishore ♡)