Hi RIP readers,
I think this Covid thing, while being hard to cope with in the short term, will improve the world thanks to the survival of the fittest! We’ll get rid of the old ones, the already dying ones, those who we should actively be shutting down and we weren’t because in a Dodo-friendly environment they’re able to survive. I’m talking about…
“RIP, how dare you!! Are you really THAT utilitarian?? You’d scare even Ayn Rand! I’m unfollowing you right now. You don’t joke about this, I’m calling the cops.”
Maybe I’m just a dreamer, but I envision a world where paper is not needed to exchange information. Where “companies 1.0” go extinct.
“RIP, what happened?”
You know me pretty well 🙂
“Ouch.. I don’t like the smell of rants in the morning”
And there you have it!
I want to tell you guys a funny “horror story” with my bank (PostFinance) that happened to me yesterday.
Spoiler: I hope they go extinct.
Heroes: RIP (and his financial monitoring skills), Nice-PF-Employee.
Foes: Bureaucracy, Stupidity, Paper, and Lazy-PF-Employee.
Lets get started!
Life at RIP 2.0 is intense. I’m doing a technical coding interview every day. Done 3 so far… yes, I’ve done the Huawei one as well! And I must admit I still rock 🙂 I actually had a lot of fun solving technical problems, and having to code solutions within 30 minutes on platforms like HackerRank and DevSkiller. Solving interview questions is fun, challenging, creative. Ok, you’re heavily under pressure because of time constraint, but who cares! It was long time I hadn’t had so much fun with coding! I guess I wrote more code during last 2 days than the previous 2 years!
Yeah, sorry. I tend to digress a bit 🙂
“We all know… btw, did you pass the interviews?”
First one I was rusty and didn’t pass even though I’ve solved 2 out of 3 problems in 90 minutes. Startups in Silicon Valley have a high hiring bar it seems. The other two I don’t know yet, but I don’t really want those jobs so I “didn’t push that last 10% of the pedal” while having a lot of fun 🙂
“So you ARE cheating the system!”
No, I’m not! The system is wrong! It’s designed for regular professions where sending 100 CVs makes sense. In my field it doesn’t. To get the job at Hooli back in 2012, I put on hold (almost) every other activity and focused on the interview process for 2 full months! That’s how it works if you want to find a decent job. Instead, they ask me to fill a paper with 10-12 applications per month and that’s what you get.
P.S. next rant will be on “unemployment duties stupidity”. Almost same foes: Bureaucracy, Stupidity, Paper, and the amazing Asshole-RAV-Employee. The evilest of the foes ever!
Anyway, this post is about my horror story with PostFinance, are you interested? Let’s not digress.
“Look Who’s Talking! Ok, let’s move on…”
On Tuesday evening, before my professional funeral, I was doing what a Financially Intelligent person does every last day of the month: closing the financial month. Cash flow, net worth, expenses, bank accounts statement, credit cards statement, investments and so on.
Something was weird though. Usually Mutuel, our health insurance company, charges insurance premiums for month X on the last day of month X-1. Plus I was notified long time ago of a few medical bills expected to be debited to my account on March 31st.
No activity from Mutuel visible on my bank account on March 31st.
It only happens when the last day of the month is a Saturday or a Sunday. On March 2020, last day of the month has been a Tuesday.
Ok, who cares, maybe there’s some temporary problem on either PostFinance or Mutuel, let’s attend my funeral!
Nothing happened on Wednesday April 1st either.
Then I realized there was also another expected bill by UPC Cablecom. I changed subscriptions with them on mid January, and got new hardware. They grouped February and March bills and sent me a 200 CHF bill for the two months together, bill expected to be paid by April 1st.
I granted both Mutuel and UPC “Direct Debit” rights on my PostFinance account.
UPC bill didn’t execute as well.
Now things are getting weird, time to take a deeper look.
Found on some mailing lists (or maybe it was an internal Hooli mailing list during my last night in corp network…) that PostFinance silently killed all your eBills permissions – no notification whatsoever – because they switched to a new eBills platform. Not good, PostFinance, not good. You gotta tell your customers what you do. You don’t cut their regular bills payment. Yellow Flag.
I logged in, registered to yet another third party company who has access to my sensible data (how cool is that?), and re-enabled my eBills.
Let’s see what eBills were pending/rejected!
Let’s take a look at which entities are registered to send me eBills. Only one: SBB, the Swiss trains company (for Halbtax card and sometimes monthly/yearly public transportation pass).
Well, I know that both Mutuel and UPC (and Cembra, my credit card!) take money from my account via Direct Debit, not eBills.
The new eBills platform was not the problem. Weird… ok, let’s go to sleep.
April 2nd, nothing happened. Neither Mutuel nor UPC took my money. This is extremely weird.
I logged in my E-Finance dashboard from PostFinance website and after several clicks (no notification) found a non-urgent communication of a standing order not having been executed today. It was our monthly rent payment.
The rent payment was not executed.
Time to call them.
Player RIP joined the game (good side).
After 15 minutes of waiting time I get to talk with foe number 1: Lazy-PF-Employee.
RIP: “Hi… sorry to bother you, but it seems direct debts on my account are not working. Plus a standing order did not execute… my rent is not being paid… you know, I’m now unemployed and I’ve always mocked the american B Movies where one loses their job and the day after becomes homeless, you know…”
Player LazyPFE joined the game (evil side).
LazyPFE: “If a Direct Debt order is not executed it’s their fault, not ours. It means they didn’t ask for the money. Please contact them!”
“Hmmm, we’re talking about two different companies. It’s extremely unlikely that both of them didn’t ask for money.”
“I don’t know what to tell you. Have a nice day, Goodbye”
“Wait, ok, I’m going to call both UPC and Mutuel soon. But what about my standing order?”
“Aaaaaah wait… let me ask my colleague. Don’t hang up Mr RIPPO”
… another 10 minutes listening to the music. I’m still wearing my pajama, and I’ve already had a fight with my RAV “Assistant” (Arbeitsberaterin). It’s almost 11am and I didn’t do any shit. I have the Huawei test to do for unemployment duties and we all slept 4 hours tonight since BabyRIP is on a routine transition and… is this the life I dreamed about when dreaming about early retirement? How many other immense efforts should I put in to achieve full “life intentionality”? How many dark hands life will keep throwing at me, locking me into a socially accepted normality? What’s the real price of freedom? Does it makes sense anyway? Do we really have free will?
“Mr RIPPO, sorry, your account has been blocked.”
“That’s because your wife didn’t sign a mandatory document 3 months ago”
“Excuse me? O_o”
Player Bureaucracy joined the game (evil side).
“Yes, we sent you a document several months ago. It seems you signed it and sent it back to us. Your wife didn’t”
“Which form? Where did you send it? Via email?”
Player Paper joined the game (evil side). Evil side is dominating the game.
“Via postal services, ok… (I suffer Paper more than Bureaucracy and LazyEmployee) Well, I obviously can’t remember it, but I know for sure that I handle the mailbox in our family. I would have recognized the important paper and asked my wife to sign it and send it back to you. But I mean, you block my account for this? With no notice??”
Player Stupidity joined the game (evil side). Endgame is near.
“I can’t do anything, that’s the way it works. Anyway, we sent the doc several times!”
“But wait, we changed flat in December 2019. I keep a list of entities that needed to be notified and the Post (thus PostFinance) has been notified of our new address. Look, I can access my E-Finance dashboard and I see my new address there”
“But your wife didn’t”
“So you’re telling me… that you sent several times the same postal package to our old address? Didn’t it return back all the time?”
Player Stupidity levels up.
“I don’t know anything about this”
“And wait the fuck a minute… you block a bank account? You keep telling me that you know we’re talking about my wife, don’t you kind of think that we might incredibly live under the same roof?”
Player LazyEmployee levels up. Player Bureaucracy levels up. Game, Set, Match...
“I’m not supposed to know about it”
Player RIP levels up!
“And then you’re not supposed to know that’s my wife either! Oh come on, you block an account for that? Don’t you call the customer first? You have her phone number, don’t you? What about an email? what about a fucking pop-up in her E-Finance dashboard? What about a fucking push notification from her mobile App, or a 1990s blinking BANNER when she logs in, warning her to fucking comply with the fucking bureaucrazy??”
Player LazyEmployee levels up. Player Stupidity levels up twice.
“We sent her the package many times! She had plenty of time to sign it!”
Player RIP levels up three times.
“Ok, you’re stupid like a deaf donkey. What about me? What about ME?? You block MY access because a person who’s co-owning the account is missing a signature somewhere? Why didn’t you notify ME with a huge red button saying HEY, YOUR ACCOUNT IS GOING TO BE BLOCKED IF YOUR FRIEND DOESN’T DO THIS SHIT. Why? Btw, I saw your fucking 5 CHF monthly fee has been charged, so the account isn’t ‘completely blocked’. I’m still paying your salary and your incompetence ah? Since you’re company is so retarded, why the hell didn’t you send ME a fucking postal package, to MY address – the correct one – warning ME that MY account is going to be blocked? Or a fucking message, or a phone call, or a email, or a inFuckingMail or whatever your internal mailing service is?”
Player LazyEmployee is now Super Saiyan Level 3.
“I don’t know what to tell you”
“Oh, shut up! You’re dinosaurs! You must go extinct! Time to close this shitty account and switch to fucking modern banks. REVOLUT! I’m going to close this account and switch to a mobile only bank! I don’t want to see Paper ever again, you must be destroyed and forgotten like ancient civilizations. Studied by modern archaeologists! ‘The Paper era’ they will call you! Go away, disappear in the dust, get off my life!”
Player LazyEmployee left the game.
“Uh… she hung up the phone. Now what do I do?”
[RIP phone ringing. Ok, just metaphorically. I hate ringtones like every non-boomer with a functioning brain]
Player Nice-Employee joined the game (good side).
“Hallo, I’m Mr. NiceEmployee 🙂 My colleague told me you have some problems, I’m here to help you. First, is your wife around? Can she log in into her E-Finance? If I send you the doc digitally, can you print it, sign it and return it asap? I’ll reactivate the account as soon as I receive the form back from her. I know this sounds stupid, but it’s something outside our control. It’s a regulation. But I’m here to help.”
Player Stupidity left the game.
“Oh… well… thanks… You know, I got infuriated by this thing. It’s borderline ridiculous. I have rent to pay! Anyway yes, wife is here, she can access E-Finance, but we don’t know how to print a document. We don’t have a printer and you know, there’s a kind shortage of public places where to go to print a document during a pandemic…”
“I totally agree with you, it’s ultra annoying. Anyway, can’t you have your wife sign the doc ‘digitally’ and send it back somehow in a PDF?”
Player Paper left the game.
“Well, uh… we can produce a ‘signed’ PDF and send it back to you via mail. I’m a photoshop pro 😉 ”
“Ok, cool! Once I received the form I’ll unblock your account. please mind that it may take an hour for the effect to propagate. Yeah, shitty servers, you know. Then you’ll need to manually enter a single order for your cancelled rent payment. Plus, maybe you need to check if the Direct Debits will retry few times. Better to call them once the account is unblocked and explain the situation 🙂 ”
Player Bureaucracy left the game.
“Thank you, I really appreciate your support 🙂 Please, fire that other asshole who I talked to before”
“You’re welcome. If you need extra support during this phase, call back this number which is my direct contact, and you skip the call center 🙂 ”
An hour later, few image manipulations later, a call later the account has been unlocked – on paper.
Team good (probably) won the match.
That’s because I will only know the day after if orders would execute.
UPDATE: On April 3rd everything is back to normal and all payments have been done.
Team good won the match!
Anyway, the morale is:
- Be financially savvy. Check your accounts, find a system (a set of spreadsheets work fine for me) that helps you track expected expenses. If you don’t monitor, you don’t know what’s happening.
- Be proactive. Act immediately If something looks weird. What would have happened if I had waited? Well, I called UPC right after the call with NiceEmployee, and they told me they were going to cut my internet access within few days. And that would end up in my Debit Register (Betreibungsregister). If I missed rent payment it’d also end up in the black register. And maybe they kicked me out of the flat. Good luck finding a new one without a salary. If the credit card company doesn’t get paid in time, it’d trigger criminal interest rates on my carried over debt. And what if I don’t pay health insurance (while there’s a pandemic)? I don’t even want to know.
- Practice Active Darwinism. Let those companies who deserve to go extinct die. If they don’t pass few sanity checks, let them die. Paperless. Remote. Virtual. Smart. Mobile-First, Bureaucracy-less. I know it’s hard, but favor these criteria as much as possible.
“So RIP, when are you closing your PostFinance account?”
Player Laziness joined the game (evil side).
Well… Sooner or later I’ll do. Reasons to get rid of it are growing:
- I’ll move our Pillar 3A somewhere else (VIAC?)
- I’ll move Mrs, and probably mine as well, Vested Benefit Account (was Pillar 2) somewhere else.
- I’ll open a smart bank account that allows us to do all we can already do today with PF. Where? I don’t know if Revolut can support all my needs. Other suggestions?
- I’l communicate all the dozens of entities that need to be notified of the change in bank account.
Player Busyness joined the game (evil side).
It’s a lot of work… I don’t know when will it pop up in my priority queue.
Have a nice day 🙂
Player RIP-Follower invited to join the game (good side).