Thursday, December 01, 2005

OCBC eCafe

Few weeks ago, I was trying to register for OCBC's eCafe(click if you are using IE only), OCBC's online banking system. At first, I access their site using Mozilla Firefox and was not allowed to proceed as the site had blocked access from any browsers other than IE. So, I switch to my IE and proceed to register myself. I manage to follow the on screen instructions for a few steps but at step no 3, or was it 4?, I was shown a very generic error page which says the system is currently not accessible and please try again. As an amateur web developer, I think I can recognize the types of errors. Anyway, I immediately called the support no listed on the error page and lodge my complaints. And so, my trouble begins. The support personnel are very friendly, however they are a bit annoying as they will force feed you with whatever manual and faq they have and force you to follow the exact steps. I thought these type of follow the steps only occur during UAT. When a system is live, you must anticipate the users to try every possible means of ways to break the system. Anyway, I was not trying to break the system, just trying to register myself. After lodging the complaint, I immediately call a close friend of mine who currently is working in OCBC and ask her to help me register. I wanted to confirm that this is not my pc environment error. If the pc in the bank works, then it will be my pc error. However, she too have the exact same problem as me, so I am pretty sure by now that it is a application server side error. The support personnel called me few times to query on my JVM. At first I did not expose the fact that I myself work in Java. I am not an expert, but I think I know how to setup my JRE correctly. Anyway, I followed whatever they said and they confirmed that I do have JRE(duh!!) and the version is the correct one. Unable to proceed any further, they decided to contact me later. One bad day, I was busy and pressured in work. This unlucky support personnel from OCBC called me. She ask me if it is possible for me to reinstall my JVM and she will walk me thru. Frustrated, I told her I don't need help in reinstalling and my JVM is of the correct version and there is absolutely no problem at my side, please please look at the server logs. She still insist I reinstall. MY GOD, if I can even setup JRE correctly, do you think I will be developing in Java, troubleshooting Websphere and debugging J2EE applications? I sternly and harshly told her that I do not wish to reinstall, please check the application instead. I am really sorry for her to have called me at that moment otherwise I would had explain slowly to her. Today, I think she finally had escalated it to their application developers. Another OCBC staff called me today and ask me to try again, this time log down the time I encounter the error. They need it for reading the logs. I mean, WTF, do you need the time of error in order to fix bug? As a bank, shouldn't there be someone monitoring the logs and fixing things as soon as error crops up? Imagine the monetary transactions throwing exceptions here and there and nobody check cause nobody logged the time of error. Purpose of a log file for the application to inform if error occurs and it can't be fixed. Judging from OCBC requesting the time from me, I can only assume that hundreds of exceptions are thrown in a day and they are not able to find mine. I can only wish them luck that their application was not from "X-Men" land or else they will only be able to see "Exception occured" with no details at all. Maybe, they might not be able to find the error at all and will tell me no error was encountered as the X-Men might had use the following try{...}catch(Exception e){//do nothing} Anyway, another thing I wish to say is if OCBC is so sure that so much users will have problem with JVM, why do they use applet in the first place? Or they could had made sure that they applet can run using both Microsoft JVM and Sun JVM and also be version compatible. Doesn't this deny lot's of users from using their services? Why is there a need to use applet in the first place? If they had already allowed only IE to be used, they should use ActiveX technology and signed it properly instead. Anyway, from my assumptions now, I think OCBC's IT department is not doing a very good job. Maybe, they have a lot of X-Men there. Updates: OCBC IT called me again, got the timestamp for checking logs. Then they called me again and concluded the userid I chose had already been used. So I change to a new one and now it works. However, I still feel that it should had presented me with a more meaningful message instead of a generic error page. Anyway, thanks to the support at OCBC, I can finally manage my OCBC banking at home.


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  2. What an interesting blog!
    Obviously, the customer supports don't seem to be professional and technically strong enough. But I believe there must be some "unhappiness" they've experienced when escalating technical problem to the application's developer/vendor and eventually make them providing such services. In most cases, customer support doesn't assume the users are likely not capable to make sure their JVM is correctly installed, I suppose the one who makes this assumption is the application developer him/herself (So, say sorry to that pity girl, especially she is a "girl" ;-)).
    IE has more than 90% of web browser market today, and it is the IE itself makes the JVM can't be as easily configured as it should be. Therefore I think the support staff did the right job asking you to reinstall JVM as I guess you're only the 0.5% (or lower) of OCBC's customer who can confidently say that you're sure that the Java plug-in is being setup perfectly.
    And again, as I mentioned, IE occupied 90% of browser market, so it make a good sense for OCBD's vendor to develop a web app solely running on IE. But I don't literally agree below statement:
    "If they had already allowed only IE to be used, they should use ActiveX technology and signed it properly instead..."
    Develop something on IE doesn't mean we "should" use MIcrosoft's web technologies.
    In short conclusion, the blame of this case should merely be thrown to OCBC's vendor/developer who was supposed to make sure their applet can run on any popular web browser and providing appropriate Java plug-in detection feature, throwing some meaningful log messages in the log file and expect someone will go and see is simply just an irresponsible coding behavior.

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