Dear Standard Bank: What on Earth?

I reckon it’s probably a bad idea to blog while the rage is a little on the high side, but skipping the emotion-fuelled writing sessions is pretty much why I’ve been quiet around here for the last while. Woosah and all that. At least rage is “safer” than vulnerability.

But today? Today I have some questions….

Please forgive the long story.

Before I went to Turkey in May I attended our EC Bloggers Meetup and was quite stoked to find a Zando voucher inside my goodie bag. This morning I remembered that voucher and decided to have a little look-see to find something to spoil myself with. At some point the husband and I need to cash in a photo session with Kick Push Photography and Marc Hervé so Momma needs a new dress. You know how it goes. I’m vain.


I find myself a rok and some stockings and off I go to purchase said goodies. I put in the CC details, I put in the voucher code. A pop-up asks me for my phone number for the OTP. I put in the OTP. I press enter and yay I have my new dress on the way!

Oh. Wait. Not yay. No. “There was a problem with your purchase.”

Er? Say what now?

I try to order again, but now my voucher is “only one per customer” so I can no longer have my discount. Discount is everything, folks. You know this.

I email Zando because now I don’t know what to do. (all this goes down in about a minute – I want my damn dress)

And then I get this sms….from my bank.


So…. I have to type in an OTP and then I have to send them an SMS to confirm that it’s me? That’s…new…

Problem: I have no airtime. And I’m a little grumpy about having to buy airtime just to send Standard Bank one message. I don’t use airtime due to whatsapp working on data and because actually phoning people makes me want to peel off my own skin.

Oh… But what’s this? An email from Zando to let me know that my order has been cancelled because payment was not received. Ok. That’s fair.

I’ll ignore the sms then because it’s pointless now. Order is cancelled.

Try to re-order again. Nope. They still won’t accept my voucher.

Ok, so now I’m a bit cross (and I say a bit cross because saying “fucking pissed” is bad manners). My bank is giving me the re-around and it makes no sense. And now I’ve lost my Zando discount (something I assume they will honour once I get hold of them, but still).

So I ask Standard Bank on Twitter what is up? Because I just don’t understand the point of this. They weren’t too much help. I think maybe I made them scared. The panda hat I’m wearing in my Twitter profile pic is all kinds of intimidating.

I then got a call from Standard bank. An automated system which obviously kicks in when you don’t answer Y/N to their sms system. The system pronounces my name incorrectly, but whatevs.

It asks me if I authorised the purchase. Well, yes I did. But the order no longer exists so I can’t say “yes” because then what? Will my money disappear and no order arrive? Thanks, but no. So I press the buttons to get me to an operator. I HATE speaking to operators. Most of you don’t know this but I’m a bit phone deaf. I can’t properly process plain auditory information. And it stresses me out. But anyway. Operator.

I’ve already forgotten the man’s name, but he’s not much help. He does inform me that a block has been put on my card. Thank God he told me this because it is my worst nightmare to be buying groceries and then have my card declined. If I hadn’t chosen to speak to someone it’s quite likely that would have happened. It never occurred to me that my card might not work next time I tried to use it.

We go through the drama of unblocking my card. I yell at the guy a bit because this is just so ridiculous. He unblocks my card. I ask questions. More apologies. No real explanations.

So why this system?

They say that fraud is prevalent. Yes it is. But how does this system help that?

If I use my card and have to put in an OTP before an online transaction goes through — then why do I need to answer an sms that comes through to the exact same phone number? And if the transaction was NOT made by me, why would you checking be helpful? If it wasn’t made by me then I would get the sms to say R204 has gone off my CC account and if it wasn’t me who made the purchase then I would call you to help ME sort it out. Instead, your attempt to “prevent” a problem has just created problems!

If someone had stolen both my card and my cellphone then none of this would help because the person being fraudulent would have my card and cellphone so you wouldn’t be able to ask ME if the transaction was me anyway.

So how does this extra thing help?

They tell me my purchase was flagged as “irregular” but they won’t tell me why? I purchase clothing online all the time. So how is it irregular? And even if it WAS irregular… Do fraudsters often buy things online that have to be delivered to a specific address with stolen credit cards? Because that seems like a really bad way to be an un-caught criminal.

It is possible that “the system” just flags transactions at random and they’re calling it “irregular” to the customers like me who throw their toys out the cot?

I don’t understand. HOW DOES THIS SYSTEM HELP? Does anyone else understand? Can YOU explain it to me?

Because to me it just looks like it’s pretending to help. It’s a service that is not a service. It looks like fraud prevention but how is it different to the OTP system? What does this system actually do besides waste time and cause frustration?

As far as I can tell: nothing.

Do you understand? Enlighten me. Please.

*PS: it should be noted that I’ve simmered down from rage and am now just feeling mildly amused (with a twinge of my superiority complex peeking out)


6 thoughts on “Dear Standard Bank: What on Earth?

  1. I’m the last person you need to convince about the ineptitude of Standard Bank – it’s exactly this kind of rubbish from them that made me move to FNB.
    But I do find myself uncommonly anxious to hear about Zando, and whether they are going to let you have that discount after all. Please keep us posted!

      1. Standard Bank I have a love/hate relationship with them haha. Also from my past experience Zando has pretty good customer service so I am sure they’ll sort out something with the discount.

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