I’ve been banking with BMO for nearly a decade now. I opened a BMO bank account because my PC Financial bank wasn’t able to process an international cheque (Australia). When I moved to the USA I was forced to close my PC Financial account because they didn’t support non-residents of Canada. Luckily I never closed that BMO account and they do support non-residents. I’ve also had a BMO credit card for over a decade (but I’m replacing it soon)
Now that I’m back in Canada I’ve been exclusively using my BMO bank account. In the USA I banked with Chase. After using and American bank I am completely shocked at the state of Canadian banking today. I’m speaking primarily as a BMO customer but my understanding is most of the big banks are similar. Let’s go into some of the reasons I’m done with BMO:
BMO’s IT Security is Laughable
BMO and Simplii Financial were recently hacked which is no surprise at all to me. The reason? BMO online passwords can’t be longer than SIX LETTERS. But it’s even worse than that, they are TELEPHONE LETTERS meaning ABC is 1, DEF is 2 etc. It’s essentially a six digit numerical pin. A decent computer can brute force such a password in 25 MICROSECONDS:
But it gets worse. If you call into BMO and provide your address and birthday (and presumably some other info) they will tell you your password. That means it’s stored unencrypted on their servers. I hope you have a separate password for your bank account because the customer service representative now has your password. Not to mention the hackers that may be able to steal the unencrypted database with all passwords.
Now I know there are more security measures besides the password. But the recent hack exploited a vulnerability related to your account’s security questions. The hackers were able to reset the account password and gain access to all personal information:
Card Number, Security Question, Account Balance, Account Number, All transactions available in online banking. Name, Address, Phone Number (Home, Business, Fax), Employment Info, Social Insurance Number, Date of Birth, and more
BMO has stated they will reimburse any financial losses in their accounts but that’s not stopping the hackers from messing with your life outside of BMO. Yay identity theft!
Data breaches like this are unacceptable. It’s entirely BMO’s fault for not updating their security software sooner. An issue like that should have been caught by their programmers. Who knows what other vulnerabilities are lurking in their software?
BMO is Lacking Basic Online Features such as:
MOBILE CHEQUE DEPOSIT
Us modern folk like our online banking. Especially mobile banking. Which is why it was so frustrating to find out that BMO doesn’t offer mobile cheque deposits. With PC Financial I was able to remotely deposit cheques in 2014. The first use of mobile deposit was in 2009. The technology has been around for 9 years and they still don’t offer it. Why does it take so long for such a useful feature?
Update: As of May 11, 2018 they now offer mobile deposits. My point still stands. Why did it take them 4 years to catch up to the smaller banks? And what other features will take 4 years to implement?
Chase bank offered various banking notifications through text message or app notification. You could set notifications to inform you of any of the following: Account balance drops below $XXX Deposits received Credit Card balance goes above $XXX Statements available
Update: BMO offers this as well now
CREDIT CARD AUTOPAY
Many of you reading this know a thing or two about increasing your credit score. Two of the easiest ways are to pay your bill on time and never use more than 30% of your credit limit. Ok the second one might be a myth but lets assume it isn’t. What tools might be useful for adhering to these
- Set up a notification whenever you reach 25% of your credit limit. Set this notification up in a few minutes. Pay off your card in full every time you get the notification.
- Set up automatic payments. My US bank account offered auto-pay for my entire balance o the minimum payment. The money came directly from my chequing account in case I forgot or was out of the country. No need to worry about missing payments and incurring interest charges. Well. Assuming I had enough cash in my bank account to cover the payments.
Can your bank do this? Ok we established above that BMO offers notifications now, but they DON’T offer automatic payments. It seems like such a simple thing to do. Failing to offer this service implies tome that they prefer you miss payments. It’s not worth the investment to provide better service when the alternative earns them more in interest payments.
Much like the lag on mobile cheque deposits, I predict they’ll only offer auto-pay once the majority of other banks offer it. Better to react to basic customer interests than to innovate and attract new customers…
MONTHLY FEE REBATES
Like most banks, BMO will waive their monthly fee if you keep a certain minimum balance in your bank account. Monthly fees are a great way to lose a lot of money so lets say you keep the minimum amount to avoid them. You’ll stop getting charged the fee right? Not exactly. For reasons unknown BMO doesn’t stop charging you, they only offer you a refund. So every month you’ll have a $10.95 charge and a $10.95 credit.
“But wouldn’t it be easier to just NOT charge the fee at all?” You’d think so wouldn’t you. Every other bank I know does that. But this sloppy “charge and rebate” method screams “we don’t care about doing things right, we’re only going to tack-on the bare minimum of functionality”
Thus every BMO customer gets an extra two lines of useless information on every monthly statement. Or 24 extra lines in a year.
INTERAC E-TRANSFER MADNESS
Chase Bank had no fees for transferring money to friends and family. And the USA also has Venmo, which is another free money transfer app that basically everyone under the age of 35 uses. Someone spotted you for a beer? Send em $10 with two clicks.
Before March 2017 BMO would charge $1 for any e-transfer. Which in itself is highway robbery because the service costs them basically nothing (besides the initial technology setup and customer service). After March 2017 they removed the fee and now their customers get free e-transfers!
Did I say free? I meant free*. It’s free to create and send a transfer but it’s $5 to CANCEL a transfer. Sent the wrong amount? Sent it to the wrong person? It’s going to cost you $5 to undo your mistake.
But it gets worse. BMO will, seemingly randomly, block your transfer. I tried sending just over $1000 to a friend. Everything seemed to go through but he couldn’t accept the money. Thinking I’d inputted something wrong I send him another transfer. Same issue. I assumed that I couldn’t send more than $1000 in one transfer. I broke it into two transfers and he was able to accept them.
Knowing about their annoying $5 cancellation fee I thought I’d just let the two transfers expire and the money would automatically go back in my account. Nope. After 30 days the transfer status changed to EXPIRED but I still needed to cancel them and pay the $5 to get the money back. I contacted BMO to complain.
The reason he couldn’t accept my transfers? They occasionally block transfers and expect the customer to call in to verify the authenticity of the transfer. I have no problem with banks checking for fraud. Chase would call me immediately if they were suspicious about a purchase. But BMO? I was given NO notification that the payment was being held.
BMO has my email. BMO has my phone number. If something related to my account has been flagged I expect to know about it. But they think that if something stop working the customer will eventually call in to complain. This is just lazy customer service.
It’s not difficult to set up an automatic email – “Hey bud, your e-transfer seems suspicious so we flagged it, call us to release it”. Or have a person or automated machine call – “Hey we flagged your e-transfer, press 69 to speak to an operator” “Hey is this Profit Moose? Prove it by telling me your address. OK. We flagged your e-transfer. That was you right? Ok good I’m releasing it. Have a super day”
Because the alternative is me having to wait on hold for who knows how long and NOBODY likes waiting on hold.
BMOs answer to my complaints above? Their e-transfer fees are in line with other banks and they expect people to call when they have a problem. Excuse me BMO but this is a problem that YOU created, not me.
The moral of this story is that BMO doesn’t appear to actually value the customer experience. They do as little as possible to retain customers while staying modern. And they’d rather payout fraud compensation than actually improve their online security.
Sure BMO, or any big bank, has a few things that the smaller banks can’t deal with like international services. But the everyday Canadian shouldn’t be putting up with this crap. We deserve better from our banks. If it takes the smaller independent banks to kick the bigger ones into the modern area then so be it. I’m moving to a credit union or something till the big banks catch up with the rest of the world.
UPDATE (June 7th 2018)
Yes I know I published this four days ago. But BMO must be publicly shamed again. I went to request some bank statements and found this:
In order to view your documents online, please visit your local branch to update your eDocuments preferences
WHY. WHY DO YOU WASTE MY TIME. I don’t want to go into my local branch. Is this related to the hack you just had? Why don’t you just call me BMO? You have my phone number. Ask me some security questions. You know I have access to a phone, let me call you. If you leaked my data it’s very unlikely my phone is in the hands of the same thugs. At the very least TELL ME that my data was leaked and I need to confirm my identity in person.
This is your fault BMO, not mine, don’t make me take time out of my day to correct your mistakes. AND LET ME UPDATE MY ONLINE PREFERENCES ONLINE. It’s 2018, not 2005.Spam your friends: