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#FAIL - Off in the distance
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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-01-18 10:09
Subject: #FAIL
Security: Public
Dear HBOS

Thank you for sending me the updated terms and conditions for my Halifax Current Account last Friday.

And thank you for sending me the updated terms and conditions for my Halifax Savings Accounts yesterday.

I am particularly taken by the thoughtful way you attempt to mitigate the impact of the production of the leaflets by putting prominent signs urging people to recycle them.

However ...

Perhaps you didn't need to send me a copy for each of the accounts I have? You might like to tell your programming bods about the DISTINCT keyword in SQL. That way, you'd have sent me only one copy of the applicable savings account leaflets, you'd have saved an extraneous 360 grammes of printed material, and I'd have saved the time carefully looking for any differences before coming to the conclusion that in all of this, I had only two different sets of leaflets.

Till next time

Me
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Andrew Mobbs
User: mobbsy
Date: 2011-01-18 10:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've worked at an organisation where a junior DBA made exactly that error when producing a customer list for a targeted marketing brochure (i.e. a list of people who'd bought some of a specific subset of products). It wasn't caught at any point further up the chain. The first I knew about it was as a customer when I received 5 copies of the brochure through the post.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-01-18 10:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oops.

In the case of Halifax savings accounts, I have a number of the web accounts - basically different slots in which I want to accumulate money rather than a single account. Since the overhead per account is normally two tenths of bugger all (no statements normally posted), I don't feel as if they're really all different.

It appears the Halifax differs in this.
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Alex McLintock
User: alexmc
Date: 2011-01-18 10:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Were they the same terms and conditions for your different accounts?
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-01-18 11:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes.

On Friday, one set for Current Accounts.

On Monday, four sets for Savings Accounts. Each account getting (in a separate envelope) a letter (unique in that it lists one account number), one leaflet of full terms and conditions, and a smaller leaflet of 'what the changes are'.

It took a bit of checking to assure myself that they were all the same leaflet pair, as it wasn't the same as the current account ones. But there is, on the back cover of each leaflet, a box with large letters, with a code in. That code was the same for all 4 savings accounts, and different for the current account.

But the savings accounts are cookie-cutter equivalents of each other, so getting different T&Cs for them would have been really odd.
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Alex McLintock
User: alexmc
Date: 2011-01-18 11:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm not a fan of companies coming up with their own terms and conditions. I would prefer it if a company like Which (or ISO, or whoever does British Standards - the BSI?) came up with these. That way companies like your bank could say "we use standard number BLAH, which can be read at BLAHADDRESS,"

Are you really going to read your T&C?
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-01-18 11:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'll be looking for weasel words along the 'sneeze in our branch and we'll charge you £2,000 to send you a letter' type of stuff.
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Alex McLintock
User: alexmc
Date: 2011-01-18 11:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Do you remember the games company who put in at the bottom of their T&C "By agreeing to this then we purchase your soul"

and then highlighted the clause afterwards when no one complained.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-01-18 11:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Tee hee

(Quite how they expect to collect is another problem.)
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-01-18 12:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm also of the understanding that, at least within this jurisdiction, courts will rule unreasonable T&C clauses as inapplicable. I think this would count. So a savvy person may have seen the clause and rightly dismissed it as unworkable.
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Perdita
User: perdita_fysh
Date: 2011-01-18 12:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know some girls for whom the reverse approach was an endless repeating problem.

Their names are Meena and Meera P., and until they moved out of the family home they not only received a single copy of communications between them, every year their bank tried to merge their accounts. Until one of them moved to another bank in frustration.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-01-18 12:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh yes, that can happen.

But here, the website knows all these accounts are mine - it lists them all on the same page, so it's got no excuse.
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