Addicted to novelty since 2001

Online Banking at the Royal Bank, Now With More Advertising

The Royal Bank delights in torturing me with mediocre customer service. Yet, because it’ll be such an enormous hassle to switch banks, I never do. The latest irritant is a change to their online banking user interface.

Here’s how it used to look when you logged in (anonymized to keep my money safe):

That big space in the middle showed all my accounts and balances. Note the useful tabs to switch between personal business accounts.

Here’s how it looks now:

The tabs are gone, as is the account summary. Importantly, the “Account Balances” drop down box only displays my personal accounts.

I assume the Royal Bank did some user analysis and figured out that most users just want to transfer money from one place to another, or to pay a bill. So, they promoted that functionality to the ‘home page’. That’s sound thinking, and fair enough.

Of course, the bank makes money through transfers and bill payments, so it makes sense to make that feature as accessible as possible. The redesign also screws people like me, who want to go immediately to their business accounts. Those accounts are behind an item the list of links halfway down the page.

What’s more unacceptable, however, is how they’ve rearranged the page to add a bunch of advertising for their products and services. In each screenshot, I’ve highlighted the advertising zones in yellow. In the old version, the offers were buried in the right sidebar. Today, they’re all over the place, and occupying the very space that might display the old, very useful, summary of account balances.

The “Your Communications” section is actually quite a recent addition, and occupies very valuable screen real estate at the top of the page. Most of my “communications” are cross-promotions for new credit cards and the like.

They’ve taken a service I already pay for, made it less useful, and added way more advertising. I tell you, Vancity is looking more attractive with each passing day.

13 Responses to “Online Banking at the Royal Bank, Now With More Advertising”

  1. Andrea

    I’m told VanCity’s business accounts are $7/mo. They’re also running a promotion where they’ll give you $10 for opening an account if you’ve been referred.

    ING also has business savings accounts and they’re giving away $13.

  2. Rob

    Darren, if and when we ever get together for our coffee, this will be an interesting topic. My grandmother opened a Royal Bank account for me within days of me being born, and I have been a customer of theirs ever since. I have had such poor poor service from them over the years that I did eventually switch all of my personal accounts to HSBC, but I have yet to move my personal accounts over from RBC. Unfortunately HSBC has a pretty bad banking GUI, and their paper statements are horrendous.

    I have yet to log in and see this recent change, but this, coupled with their ridiculous new security policy (which automatically chose 3 random questions from information I supplied them 10 years ago) may cause me to finally get it all moved.

    That, and the last time I went to the Royal Bank to deposit a cheque to my business account, the clerk immediately says, “No sir, we must charge you for this”. So, they wanted to charge me for depositing money into an account where they do not pay interest AND they charge me close to $20 a month in basic fees. The additional $0.75 was just unbelievable.

    OK, now I’m all worked up. I’ll have to have a cookie.

  3. Derek

    I have several personal and one business account with VanCity, and quite like it. Their online banking interface, while not perfect, is good and improves regularly (the addition of pay-all-your-bills-at-once using a list with checkboxes and amount fields in a single screen last year saved me SO much time). It works great in every browser I can throw at it.

    Their Exchange ATMs are everywhere (including other cedit unions and HSBC, where I can even make deposits). And they’ve been helpful with loans and such. Service at tellers is pleasant, and they even have a branch inside the Save-On Foods where I do most of my grocery shopping, so it’s super-convenient.

    Sheesh. I sound like an ad. But I sure don’t regret moving from CIBC (and BMO before that) more than a decade ago.

  4. William

    Looking forward to meeting you at the election night social (or 12 step Liberal withdrawl meeting). I too have abandoned an account I have held for almost two decades to start with Coast Capital. The fees just kept adding up and there was no reason to stay. Services with the redit union are good(considering reciprocity agreements with other Credit Unions and HSBC)and the fees are almost nil. The one thing I miss was knowing there was a auto-teller from my old bank in every Petro-Can or 7-11.

  5. Gregg

    The big banks are reluctant to give credit and they have little or no interest.
    I switched from TD Canada Trust in the Spring of 2005. Why? No fee banking. No fees for cheques, withdrawls or deposits at ATMs, online or phone banking. No fees. Ever. And they seem to care.
    I simply refuse to give one more cent to any of the big banks who all greedily and trendily changed their names to sound like investment firms after the dotcom goldrush. By the time their rebranding was complete the boom had gone bust. Now on bank fronts near and far shadowed remnants of their original signs remain as a reminder that dealing with the bank use to feel more like a service and less like a privilege.
    Of course Coast Capital encouraged me to sign up for a line of credit. I had it and then cancelled it. I can’t speak for their business services. The internet interface is not as clean as TD and the phone line voice sounds like an old school radio announcer because he is.
    I hope and pray that the days of dealing with yet another green teller who’s unfamiliarity with me and the service I require costs me money in service charges, valuable time and self-respect.

  6. Gregg

    are over.
    (I forgot to end my sentence properly!)

  7. double-plus-ungood

    I’m always amazed that people keep using banks. I do my signifother’s online accounts at a bank, and have been using Vancity’s incredibly inexpensive e-account for my own stuff, and it’s like night and day. She gets a vicious reaming from her bank in the way of service charges, and an awful online service. My Vancity account costs me about 6 bucks a month, I get unlimited ATM usage and debit transactions, plus their on-line service is awesome.

    Banks suck, and a look at their profits should give a good indication as to what’s going on regarding customer service. Vancity and many other credit unions provide equivalent or better service at lower cost, and what profits they make are used in the community or to improve services. That makes it a no-brainer.

  8. alexis

    Royal Bank is evil. They handle student loans, and consistently screwed mine up. I didn’t know if it was coming to the bank, the school or me. I ended up writing a complaint letter to the head in Montreal, and was reimbursed $50 for my pain. When I closed my account after I’d received the loan, I had to go to the bank 3 times before they finally managed to close it.

    I wouldn’t bank there again.

  9. Kaylalean

    Does anyone know the advertising agencies RBC uses for their English and French advertising? I was under the impression the English advertising was done by BBDO but I was curious to know about their French Advertising.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Kaylalean

    I was wondering if anyone knew who does RBC’s advertising? I was under the impression that their English advertising was done by BBDO but I was curious to know about their French advertising.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated


  11. Geezer

    I can’t believe that RBC or any other bank is worse than Vancity…

    I have a big beef with Vancity. I was a member for 20 years and in that time had paid off 2 mortgages and had invested in mutual funds with Credential Asset Management. I went in for a Line Of Credit for bridge financing for a house purchase and thought they would give me a good interest rate. I was then lied to, and was never given an apology when I caught them in that lie.
    They also would not give me a better rate than any other bank that I have never, ever done business with (I have over an 820 credit rating).
    Last fall I went in to re-up my mutual funds and, after the ABCP collapse (Asset Backed Commercial Paper) in August 2007, I asked them if there was anything amiss that I should know about. At that time I had not known about the collapse. My mutual funds were going down and their broker from Credential told me that there was nothing amiss and my funds were safe. So I re-signed for another yaer (the broker got his payout).
    In January 2008 I then find out that Credential had lost millions in the collapse. I phoned Vancity and, in turn Credential, to find out what was going on. Complete silence on their part. By this time my funds have dropped 20 per cent. I then tried to get my money out of the mutual funds since I’m not getting any co-operation. It takes over a month and countless emails and phone calls to everyone up to the CEO of Vancity (I ended up losing 20 percent of my investment from the time I re-upped). They even lied to me about who their Director of Finances was. This person (Mr. Atkinson) even passed himself off to me as a Director. I was so livid that I went to their Annual General Meeting and signed up to speak. They were going to allow me to speak until they found out that I was going to ask about how they were ripping off clients by not telling them about the ABCP collapse and how it has affected their mutual funds. I believe if enough people have gone through the same thing ( I know I’m not the only one who’s been ripped off), we can start a class action lawsuit against both Vancity and Credential Asset Management. To add insult, they tried to pocket my membership fees when I left the credit union. How slimey is that????? I had to fight to get my 10 or 15 bucks back.
    I can’t believe how I was treated, even after there were numerous erroneous accesses into my accounts due to teller mistakes. They were paying other peoples’ bills on my accounts because the teller forgot to close my account before the next person in line came up to the teller.

    Thanks for letting me rant.

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