Monday 19 August 2013

Fun with Barclays

I needed to give one of my customers a refund. Just $13, but when I tell someone they're getting a refund, it's important that it happens.

Barclays have recently changed their system; new user interface and (I guess) a whole bunch of changes to the back end that I can't see. But I got talked through setting it up by their tech support people, and I've done a refund about a few weeks ago, So, no problem, right?

Wrong. I started up their new user interface, and the option to give a refund has disappeared. I must be stupid, I thought, I'm sure I saw it before. But sometimes, just like with a cache, you can stare and stare and just not see it.

So I called Barclays tech support. And Michael told me that I was doing it wrong. I have to find the transaction, click on that, and then I can do the refund. Yes - they changed it, I wasn't having a blonde minute. I gave him a ciuple of minutes on the subject of "Why have you made it more difficult for me to give my customers a refund? Don't you care about me, your customer? And I asked him to make that into a formal complaint.

Then he tried to show me how easy ot was for me to find the transaction and do the refund. So I typed in the card number, and told it to search. "No transactions found". I took the spaces out of the card number (have you ever wondered why in some places when you have spaces in the number it can't handle it, and wondered about how stupid the programmer must have been?) and that didn't work. We tried this, we tried that, nothing found the transaction. So then Michael logged in. "You don't have and transactions in August." But I do - hundreds per day. "Or in July". Eventually, he worked out what was happening.

I send them my transactions using an encrypted XML file, and I get back an encrypted XML file that tells me the result of each transaction. It seems that this was going to the old backend system, so the new system knew nothing about them. As a result, there was no way I could do a refund using their new system.

Fortunately (I'm not as green as I'm cabbage-looking) I still had the old system to fall back on, and I was able to do the refund there. Sorted.

But then I raised the complaint, to include this new blunder. And then Michael brought up something quite horrible. When I go over to using the new back end, I'll have to change what I send them.

At this point is sighed, and muttered something under my breath. And then I explained to Michael.

"So I'm going to have to write a program to translate what I'm currently outputting, to your new requirement. And so will Joe Bloggs, Fred Smith, Harry Hobbit and all your other thousands and thousands of customers. Or, alternatively, you could write it and continue to accept the old format, and translate that to your new format. I, and several thousand of our customers each write a program, or you do it and your customers aren't troubled by this change. which do you think is best?"

Eventually, he understood what I was telling him. Hands up anyone who thinks they'll listen.

So, I'm going to have to change all my software. And I don't even know what to, because this is the first I've heard of it.


  1. Doc,

    Fact of life,

    Cash is King!

    Unfortunately Barclays have more cash than you!!

    Sorry :(

  2. I've looked at the new spec, and it shouldn't be too hard to make the changes.

    I remember when the only way Barclays could take card billings was that I sent them a great wodge of paper, generated by my computer systems, and they worked from that.
    That was 17 years ago.