In the battle between saving the forests and saving my sanity, there can only be one winner.
At last count I have about 25 online accounts of varying kinds. Each has their own web address, client number, username, password, secret question, mother’s shoe size, wizard’s spell to be chanted at midnight under a full moon.
In an effort to save trees and, while they’re at it, shift responsibility, companies are constantly pushing us to access everything online.
Sounds good in theory, everything at your fingertips. In reality, you’re in password hell.
As I see it, you have only two options. You could use the one password for all your accounts, or use a different one each time and write them down somewhere useful, but not so useful that a robber or cyber-hacker can find them. Either way, you’re screwed.
Here’s a rundown of the companies I’m in online relationships with:
- other bank
- insurance company
- superannuation fund
- other superannuation fund
- electricity company
- digital newspaper subscription
- motor registry
- domain name provider
- email host
- other email host
- social networking site
- other social networking site
- employer intranet
- salary packaging provider
- internet and phone provider
- supermarket rewards program
- web auction site
- online trading post
- ticketing site
- local cinema
- airline company
- other airline company
- road tolling company
Recently I phoned my bank (yeah, another one) to instruct them to withdraw my term deposit at its maturity date. Interest rates are so low at the moment, don’t even bother, just put your money under your mattress. The bank had a linked account on file, but I would have liked to choose a different one to receive my money, but I couldn’t arrange that over the phone (security, y’know).
I could do it through online access, though. Did I want him to talk me through setting that up over the phone now? I politely declined. It’s a term deposit, for goodness sake. You put your money in at the start. You leave it there until they send you a letter saying that it’s time to take it out. You realise that you’re likely to get better interest keeping it under your mattress, so you withdraw it. So, no, I didn’t want to set up online access, thanks.
Instead of sending me a letter or manning a telephone line as methods of communication, these internet lovers have decided they’ll spend their budget on paying web coders and then sending bulk emails with monetary rewards attached if I switch to email statements. Sounds fine, sign me up! Just don’t send me those emails saying that I have a statement but not attaching the actual statement, because that would be too insecure and you’ll have to login through our online portal in order to access what we would have ordinarily just delivered securely concealed in a paper-thin envelope with a see through window to your totally password protected petrol-drum-metal-cat shaped letterbox.
Superannuation funds are the worst. A statement used to come in the mail every six months. Now I get an email with a friendly little pointer to the online site.
I’ve still got 40 working years ahead of me, so I’ve no idea what my superfund does in between writing me reports twice a year.
Login details, what? In the email, I’m guessing for security reasons, it doesn’t even list my client number, so I can’t do that awesome thing where you put in some of your details and they tell you the rest. Hmm. Solution? A letter, methinks!
So, a few months back I did write a letter to my friendly superannuation provider. I gave them my address, my name, my telephone number. I asked them to kindly email or post me a copy of my statement. I received a reply saying they would respond to my email within 7 days. Winning.
A few weeks went by. No statement, virtual or hardcopy. Another letter got written. I made reference to my previous request that seemed to have been ignored. I also explained that since I didn’t have my statement I didn’t have my client number to type into the “forgot your password?” section of the site to get the statement I didn’t have. I didn’t mention that I might have had an old statement lying around from years ago when chopping down trees was in fashion. It’s probably expertly filed away somewhere, and anyway, I was trying to make a point.
Someone in the superannuation office must have taken pity on me, because a week later a statement arrived by post. Now that’s what I call winning!