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TSB - could the IT debacle lead to deaths?

TSB Bank
TSB bank has a huge problem on their hands. If its not resolved soon people are going to die. Am I scare mongering?

 According to the Papworth Trust 1 in 5 people in the UK have a disability¹. Assuming that the  UK residents that TSB services are in line with UK demographics then of the 1.9 million people that have been affected by their IT meltdown,  380 000 will have a disability.

TSB and disability

Now we all know that disability differs so not all of those 380 000 will experience the same kinds of problems from the TSB Meltdown. A blind person will experience different problems to the disabled deaf. Screen readers are no good if the information in the account is incorrect. Can you imagine the frustration of a blind person trying to get into an inaccessible account?

Lets say a rough estimate that 10 percent of those clients have serious enough disabilities that require substantial tech to access normal living. I'm going to use my situation as an example. I have bilateral polyarthralgia. I am epileptic exacerbated by anxiety. This is a short description of how my life pans out:

I use tech to live normally. My fingers have deformed and I cannot use my hands to type. I use voice activated software to manage my life. Once my computer is switched on, VAS (Voice activated software) enables me to open applications, switch windows, open new windows, shop online, and yes you guessed it - do online banking.

The stubborn person that I am means that stuck between four walls watching daytime TV would make me go insane really quickly. I work from home. Online. Using tech to earn my living. I can code, write copy and develop websites all using VAS. But it goes further than that. I can turn the lights on and off, the heating on and off, and adjust the heating, all using my voice and an Amazon Echo. - Alexa is one of my best friends. I make phone calls using my voice - Alexa dials up for me. I answer calls using my voice.

I do my shopping online, using my voice. I print off stamps using VAS, for the rare occasions when I actually have to type a letter.

So lets contextualise the problem. Everything that I need to live independently requires money. Money that I earn. I have a business bank account with TSB and a personal account with TSB. I even have two savings accounts - you guessed it with TSB. My TSB accounts are used to pay my rent, my utilities and buy my food. They pay for my access to the internet. Not being able to use my bank accounts spells disaster.

From Monday the 23rd April to the Wednesday the 25th April I was completely unable to use online banking. In fact as at the time of writing today - 3rd May, I still cant access my accounts adequately to survive. I could not pay for my gas and electricity online (Which is prepaid). I believed TSB when they said that on Sunday the 22nd my banking would be accessible so I was not worried about topping up my electricity on the Monday. Except on the Monday I had no access to my hard earned money.

Think about this. Without electricity, I could not even switch on the heating or change the temperature in my home. I could not make a phone call. My telecare phone could not connect to make an emergency call in the even of a seizure. With no electricity I could not use my PC to send an email or connect with someone on Social Media to help. No electricity meant I had no internet router. No devices would work, including my nebuliser. In case the powers at TSB are unaware - even electric wheelchairs need charging. Others in a similar position to me that mistakenly believed they could top up on the Monday would not even have been able to move around their own home by that evening.

I take great pride in the fact that despite considerable disability, I work. But no electricity meant that I could not deliver to my clients in time as promised. In fact when the TSB app was 50% functioning my tech could get me into the app, but no further and the balances still varied beyond my imagination and continue to, til this day. Transactions are another story entirely. My account says I have funds and there are no pending transaction, but the cash is not available, not online, not from a cash machine, nowhere.

I am resourceful person. I really believe in doing something to help myself. But sometimes when a large corporate has done so much to obstruct my self help, someone has to stand up and say something. The current government has made massive cuts. I don't get any help from Social Work. They know who I am. They know I exist but because I am articulate and do so much for myself there is no catch net for people like me. I even pay for my own care beyond the statutory limit where I require it. If it wasn't for a fantastic neighbour who thought that no lights in my home two nights running was a bit weird, I may well have starved to death or died from a seizure by now.

Bearing all of this in mind, how many disabled people are out there right now, going hungry, feeling the cold or unable to ask for help? Think about this Paul Pester, what are the odds, because if even 1% of your disabled customers (not 1% of your total customer base - make sure you do the math) are caught up in this, how many are at risk of dying?

We all make mistakes. Mine was having all my eggs in one basket. TSB hold my personal current account, My business account and two savings account and have cost me a loss of over £7000 in turnover already. I also have 20 remote workers that have TSB accounts - why because I recommended they use TSB as at the time their online banking was the most disability friendly I had encountered.

My assessment of the situation boils down to one thing.

Poor project management.

It is patently clear that there were grossly inadequate contingencies in place and now the project management failure of an IT migration is becoming a cross the board project management failure. Customer services, Corporate Communications, Data Protection. I wonder whether they have someone appointed to deal with the special needs of the disabled? How is that project managed? Do they have someone to advise? Perhaps someone with disabilities themselves?

I have made a written complaint. A £15 inconvenience payment just wont hack it, I'm afraid. The suffering the disabled have experienced is far more than a mere inconvenience. It's potentially life threatening. The loss of income is another. And then there is the inability to access our funds. A payment made to me ten days ago still hasnt appeared in my account.With TSB it's not hurry up and wait. It's hurry up and starve, or potenially even, hurry up and die.

Ruth Richards-Hill

Ruth Richards-Hill

1 comment:

  1. Great article and a perspective that does not seem to have been considered in the mainstream media reports.


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