Service vs. Security|Service vs. Sicherheit

Sure I could start with a huge rant about the general lack of service in Germany, however, I wanted to look a little deeper at what's troubling me. In the past week, I had 2 key moments in which companies made it surprisingly hard for me to request some service. In both cases, the argument was made that I was provided with extra security and for that reason, I was expected to accept the lack of usability of the customer service.

I made my first bad experience with my new bank account at the online banking portal of the netbank. Don't get me wrong; so far, I really can't complain about the service there. They replied to my requests very fast, I received my PIN, my list of TAN numbers as well as my EC card in the week following my registration there and it's rather easy to use their online services (although I don't want to fool you, the main reason I switched over to this bank are the attractive terms).

However, I think it's absolutely ridiculous that I need to enter a TAN just to send a simple request to their customer support. It's getting ridiculous considering that I can send a request without trouble if I'm not logged in to the online banking portal. In other words: A logged in user; an already existing customer of the netbank needs to go the extra mile while ~ somebody ~ can simply send in a request.

On the other hand, I have to say it could be worse. Take Deutsche Bahn's website for example; they have this cool bonus program called bahn.bonus (yeah, not the most imaginative name for a bonus program). They were so kind to send me a newsletter, not only informing me about the number of bonus points I still got left, but also telling me how many of them would expire at the end of the month. Seemed like it was time to redeem some of these points for another free ride. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible as for some weird reason, I now need a PIN to use the online services of Deutsche Bahn.

Fair enough, if I could simply set up this PIN online. For some odd reason, it's not that easy; I need to request it and wait for it to arrive via snail mail. Which is quite unfortunate, there are only so many days left in the current month and if you would only request it now, you might not even receive it before the end of the month.

So my recommendation to all you Bahn customers out there is this: Request your PIN right away. And while you're at it, you might also want to check the number of bonus points you got left and how many of them will expire at the end of the month.

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