Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why First South Bank is PISSING me off!

Let me start this by saying the following: I’ve been banking here with my personal finances for about 5 years, and with my business finances for about 3 years. You might ask yourself why, if I’m so pissed off, don’t I just change banks?

I’ve banked all over the place over the years, but I’ve never ever ever ever ever ever had the customer service and personal attention to detail that the staff of First South Bank provides. Their people are friendly, attentive, and go WAY beyond the call of duty to keep customers happy! I want to make that perfectly clear before I go any farther.

So, let me explain the problem in detail.

  • First South Bank’s online banking is flawed.
  • I brought this to their attention in June of 2009.
  • I then told them how to fix it and spent over a month working with their tech department to correct it for ALL their customers, not just myself.
  • They fixed it so FSB online banking worked properly with QuickBooks. Hooray!
  • Two weeks later it’s broken again.
  • I called and spoke to IT and was told that a Microsoft Money customer called in and said his free-personal online banking downloads weren’t functioning properly, so they reverted it back.

In short, NO BUSINESS IN THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA runs its books through Microsoft Money. It’s a safe bet to say that 85% of ALL SMALL COMMERCIAL BUSINESSES use QuickBooks for financial processing.

First South Bank chose to keep the free-personal checking account users happy, but intentionally re-broke the system again making it a NIGHTMARE for business customers like myself.

Why are you complaining now?

In short, I’m complaining now publicly because my 12 months of phone calls and emails were finally greeted with (From the director of Online Banking) the answer of “We don’t know how to fix it!” Further, I just spent three hours of my afternoon doing what should have taken me less than 5 minutes to do… and I spent that time because the bank’s processing engine is screwing up. I’ve even offered to work with them to fix it myself. It’s not rocket science! It’s ONE feature of their exporting engine that needs to be changed. That’s it.

Let me explain (for the hundredth time) what the problem is. I’m going to use QuickBooks 2010 examples because they’ve already seen all the screenshots from 2009 and maybe they’ll understand this better if I use the current version.

When a business person downloads their online banking into QuickBooks from First South Bank, QuickBooks does a quick comparison against your check register and marks all the downloaded transactions as either matched, or unmatched.

Matched transactions means you already typed this check or purchase into QuickBooks and your online banking matches perfectly, so you can simply press DONE and all the matched transactions will be reconciled against your check ledger.

Unmatched Transactions (usually online or debit purchases you forgot to enter into QuickBooks when you made them) are left out for you to match up to their proper payee and assign the proper chart of accounts entry. I’ll use an example of McDonalds Fast Food.

If I’m making my first purchase at McDonalds, the download wont know who it is. I’ll simply tell QuickBooks that McDonalds purchases get filed under Meals and Entertainment from now on and then every subsequent McDonalds purchase will be filed accordingly. Makes absolute perfect sense, right? It does this using the Payee Name field. If I say “if the payee includes the words McDon…”, then it change the name to McDonalds

Why doesn’t it work for First South Bank

First South Bank’s back-end processing is handled by two parties. The party that processes the information is called Digital Insights and is owned by Intuit, who also owns QuickBooks and Quicken. They are doing THEIR job properly.

When the transaction data is passed off from the back end to the online check register, that information is handled by another smaller company, of which First South Bank is their largest customer. They are simply screwing up their job.

How are they screwing it up?

Let’s get detailed for a moment here. An electronic transaction requires a few pieces of information to be transmitted in the proper order so you know what the check is for and how much. Those fields are (using examples in the order of migration into QuickBooks)

  • Account (Which account it’s going into)
  • Check Number
  • Date
  • Payee
  • Amount
  • Memo
  • and some others that are specific to individual programs.

When First South’s data processor parses the export for download into .qbo web connect files, it is supposed to follow a certain order, shown above. Instead they are parsing it in the following order.

  • Account
  • Check Number
  • Date
  • Memo
  • Amount
  • Payee

Do you notice that these two fields above are reversed from what they are supposed to be in the previous example? This is the problem.

Why is this the problem?

Glad you asked! When you run your card at various locations (and I’ll keep the McDonalds’ example going here from before) the memo field of the payment usually says something like “point of sale withdrawal” and the payee says McDonalds Store #123 or whatever.

Since First South is processing the information backwards, all their business customers downloads are showing the PAYEE as “point of sale withdrawal” and the Memo field as the name of the vendor.

How do you know?

Well, I know because I’ve been showing them screen shots for over a year, but I thought you might ask so now I’m going to share them with you too so you can see for yourself.

Click the images below to see them in their original size.

Example 1

This image shows you what your register looks like before you try to match the transaction. You see where the downloaded payee name (I highlighted it in red for you) says “Point of Sale Withdrawal. That’s incorrect.

first south bank error4

Example 2

If you clink the link to “Show splits, memo, date, number” you then get to see further details from the transaction. The PAYEE is supposed to be McDonalds and the MEMO field is supposed to be “point of sale withdrawal”.

Notice here that I still have 87 transactions to match up on the left side of my screen (almost 100% of which would have already been matched if they knew what the hell they were doing!)

first south bank error3 

Example 3

Of course I do what any of you would do… I simply type McDonald’s as the Payee and THEN QuickBooks knows what to do with the transaction. As you can see it automatically chose “Travel and Entertainment: Meals” as the proper category for the expense.

But look what happened on the left side of the screen… oh no! Now I have 87 unmatched transactions ALL payable to McDonalds. So now, what do I do?

first south bank error2

Example 4

Well, now I have to go into the renaming rules feature of QuickBooks and tell it to remove the rule shown below. Since First South is processing the information wrong, QuickBooks assumes that the payee Point of Sale Withdrawal is actually McDonalds so every single remaining transaction with the word “point of sale withdrawal” gets renamed until you come here and take out the rule. As soon as you remove the rule,they are all renamed back to “point of sale withdrawal’ as seen in example 1… UNTIL you change the payee of the next transaction at which point the register takes the name of the next vendor (Lowe’s, Food Lion, Staples, etc) and makes the same mistake. It’s a time-consuming nightmare that QuickBooks customers should not have to tolerate.

first south bank error1


Final Result

The final result is that the head of online banking at First South Bank needs to find another job. Over the last 12 months I’ve dealt with three branch managers, online support, and IT about this problem… I actually had one branch manager at the Arlington branch tell me “That’s why I keep losing commercial customers. They keep saying they can’t use quickbooks, but I didn’t understand why until now.”

Yes, that’s why you’re losing customers. I’ve tried dealing with the staff in Washington at the NOC to address the problem but they apparently decided that being able to support Quickbooks for business customers wasn’t important. This is my last ditch effort to get this bank to fix this problem. Your people in Online Banking have no idea what they’re doing. Your web site uses flash-cookies, your transaction data doesn’t download properly… the list goes on. You have the best people I’ve ever dealt with working in your banks! That’s the reason I’m still there. You can’t beat their customer service and friendliness and attentiveness anywhere else in the world, but your back-end banking infrastructure is run on a shoe-string and needs some serious overhaul. I’ve offered to work with the IT team responsible for handling this problem on an absolutely pro-bono basis, just to get this fixed and still got no results.

FYI: Before you blame it on IT, I know better. This isn’t handled under the bailiwick of the First South Bank IT department or their outsourced vendor Web Pointe. This is an external vendor problem… a vendor who can’t do the job because First South is the largest customer they deal with and they’re used to mom and pop-style banks with 2 locations, not 24 location enterprises with over 100 ATM’s and a 300 person staff. Please find another vendor to handle your processing or do something to fix it in-house yourself. Your bank and it’s people are too wonderful to be losing customers because one person in Online Banking can’t do her job.



In case you’re curious:

Just in case, I’ll give some more background on the matter.

Yes, QuickBooks 2007-2010 work FINE with Wachovia, Bank of America, First Citizens, and the State Employees Credit Union. I’m an IT rep and I have to assist my customers with QuickBooks all the time, so I KNOW these work because I do them for customers with no problem.

Yes, First South Bank data works fine with Microsoft Money and Quicken Home, as well as Quicken Deluxe. It is NOT the processor who’s screwing it up. It’s the protocol that’s compiling the .qbo extenstion, which is unique to QuickBooks itself.

Yes, this file is generated on-demand by your First South back end processing system, so yes it’s your fault. Fix it.

No, you’re the only bank in town with this problem. Again…. call around and ask your other banks and see if they have the issue. They don’t!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How NOT to annoy your Facebook Friends!

So, here’s the deal: You want to play Farmville, or some other application, but your Facebook friends are tired of seeing all your game crap pop up in their newsfeeds, right? You might even actually LOSE friends on facebook because of all the annoying messages your applications put on your wall. So, this walk through tells you how to still share the info with your app-friends without annoying the rest of the world! (me included).

This walk through assumes you know at least how to make a friend list on Facebook and how to add people to that group. I’ve created a list of friends in my Facebook called Farmville just for this purpose. If you don’t know how to to that much, stop reading this because it’s not going to make sense to you….

Step 1: Publishing to your wall

So, you get that pop-up that says “Publish this story to your Facebook Wall and your friends’ home pages?” Before you hit the “publish” button and annoy the whole world, try this trick first.


Steo 2: Customize who will see your post

Using your mouse, click that little Lock icon and choose “Custom    edit”


Step 3: Changing the visibility

You will be prompted with this screen. If you press “only friends” which is the default, you’ll publish the post to EVERYONE on your list. We don’t want that so press the down arrow to narrow down who you want to see this.


If you choose “Specific People” you will be given a choice of what friends or friends-lists you want to share this news with. Select this option to be given the choice to edit the list.


Step 4: Entering the name of your friends list.

I titled my Farmville friends list “Farmville Friends” so I simply type F, a, r, m, v into the friends box and I see the friend list selection that I want to publish to. Select that list.


The following image shows what it looks like after I selected the Farmville Friends. Press Save Setting to go back to the main screen.


Step 5: Publish

Now you’re back at your main screen and you can press “Publish.” All the friends in your selected list will see the post, but your other non-app friends won’t be bothered.


Yes, if you’re curious, this works for ANY application or group of friends. Here are a few other ways I use this to post to my wall in case you’re looking for other examples where this might be useful:

  • Post special announcements to my “Clients” list about work related deals that my friends won’t care about.
  • Post personal normal life stuff to my “friends” list but not my clients.. maybe I don’t want a client to see that I’m griping about them on Facebook? Know what I mean?
  • Post Family reunion information only to my Family so I don’t have to hear lots of comments from other people who might otherwise respond and clog up my email.

I hope you’ve found this post useful. If you want further clarification on anything, please leave a comment and I’ll respond. If you think this post is worth sharing, please feel free to share the URL with your friends. I could use the traffic to my site and I always enjoy new visitors.