Whatever happened to Information Management at this bank? #DataQualityFail

Yesterday I set up SMS alerts for my business bank account for the first time. When I registered for the service, it showed me the last four digits (9901) of the number they proposed to use for messages advising me of activity on my account. That worried me, as I stopped using that number several years ago when I changed providers, and the bank are well aware of my current number. In fact, they already send me text messages to confirm certain activities via internet banking.

With trepidation, I registered for the service, and there was an option to update my contact details, so I took it. Lo and behold, the ‘9901’ number is not in my contact details; the mobile number is correct.

Here’s my mobile phone number in my “Personal Details” (there is nowhere to record a second mobile number):

my banking mobileSo, I decided to carry on and sign up for a couple of ‘text alerts’. Here are the choices I’m given when setting up a ‘text alert’ – note the first phone number:

two numbers for text alerts

Interesting that, I can choose from a list of mobile numbers, though I’m only allowed to record one mobile phone number.

I was careful to select the correct number, and expected the service to work OK. My first email alert arrived at 02:06 this morning, but no matching SMS arrived. This may have been due to the patchy mobile service I’ve had in the last few days, but I decided to ring the bank anyway. I called at 10:20 and explained the issue to the customer service representative, and she promised to get back to me today.

I asked her for the contact details for their data protection team, as I wanted to raise this concern with them, in case other customers’ alerts were going to the wrong people, and also because this is very obviously a data management problem. I was told that the bank does not allow customers to contact data protection directly, that has to be done via customer service or by making a complaint.

Well, the missing text alert arrived at 11:57 this morning, nearly 10 hours after the email. The time is now 22:20, and I’m still waiting for my call back from the bank. I’m not surprised they haven’t sorted it yet, it’ll take a while to sort out.

I used to work for this bank in an information management capacity, leaving ten years ago when the new owners guillotined the Information Management department. I’ve heard a few things from the inside since then about how effective their information management is these days; this definitely would not have happened in ‘the old days’, there was a business department in place to make sure of that. I wonder what happened to it.

P.S. Why is there a drop-down list of phone numbers? Here’s a suggestion from a friend of mine, which I’ve paraphrased – “during project testing a developer found >1 mobile number, so they decide to add a drop-down list. Not scenario-checked. Unit tested but no end to end test.”  Could be true.

But that’s just experience bitching.

Poor Data Quality prevents a strike

Lack of attention to data quality has cost the RMT (signal workers) union dearly.  They had planned to hold a national rail strike in the UK, but Network Rail found flaws in their ballot, and on April 2nd the High Court ruled that the strike could not go ahead.   Network Rail had claimed that the irregularities affected almost 300 votes or potential votes in the ballot.  The irregularities are all issues of data quality, though their impact on the ballot outcome is variable:

• Balloting 11 signal boxes that have been closed for years, including one destroyed by arson

• Recording more votes than employees in 67 locations

• Failing to ballot 26 workplaces involving 100 staff

• Balloting 12 locations where staff were ineligible to vote

The union claim on their web sitethat Network Rail may have provided the High Court with false information today in their efforts to convince the Court of their case“.  Hmm, does that just point to more bad data at the RMT?

See http://www.newstatesman.com/business/2010/04/rail-strike-planned-judge, http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/6746.aspx, http://patrickhenrypress.info/node/173781, http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/rail-strike-fight-high-court-ruling-due-skynews-63fa5c7f6120.html?x=0 for more.