Wednesday 23 July 2008

Royal Bank of Canada - Banner Ads while online banking?!?

Recently, it seems that the Royal Bank of Canada has decided that they need to banner ad some of their products and services while we are doing our online banking:

RBC Product Banner Ad

The above banner ad appeared after completing a bill payment online. That banner ad was also present when completing a personal transaction. Note the banner's URL it is pointing to is outside the RBC secure online environment.

This practice is just plain wrong in so many ways.

It took the banking industry a long time to overcome the overwhelmingly negative psychology of doing our banking online. In my case, it took one of my former employers over a year to convince me just to try it.

Yes, once online, I was hooked. However, for the right or wrong reasons, it was very difficult to get me to that point.

To me, this is like depositing a product salesman into my living room without my permission to sell me something.

That "living room" experience for my online banking was one of the keys to getting comfortable with doing my banking online.

Perhaps for many that are used to having banner ads in their lives in virtually any online experience this may not be a problem.

But, our online banking is tied to our entire livelihoods. Any mistake on the part of the bank or a flaw in a browser that allows someone to somehow compromise my online session should be avoided.

And, for Pete's sake, I see banner ads everywhere! Do I have to see them while I conduct my personal and business online banking?!?

Again, I may be totally off base since I am not a browser coder or Internet security guru. However, perception is 80% of the battle...

The other aspect of this that really gets me: We are paying for our online banking service.

To put it another way: We are now paying the bank to advertise to us ... much in the way the movie theaters realized that they could get away with 10 minute mini commercials prior to the movie starting.

We pay for the online banking service through our business. We pay a flat fee to the bank for our personal online service.

If the bank wants to sell us something, do so through the company's regular Web site.

Next stop: Letter to RBC's President and CEO Gordon M. Nixon, Barbara Stymiest COO, and the RBC Office of the Ombudsman.

There are some things in life that should be left alone ... and our online banking experience is one of them.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.


stryqx said...

My wordy.

Cross-site banner ads in online banking is so, so wrong. First, the Bank's security officer should be fired on the spot with no golden handshake. Second, any sensible customer should just walk away and have their accounts with a bank that understands online security.

This is exactly why you should be running NoScript in Firefox and IE7Pro in IE7 (with AdBlock enabled) - to stop nonsense like this from impacting on you. I prefer NoScript due to its smart design and easy to use interface.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


I do agree that the tools will do well for the tasks at hand.

It is my preference to run in a non-santized environment so that I can see exactly what is going on within my browser and the sites that I am visiting.

I have mentioned this situation to both the phone in people with the bank as well as my branch. The branch brought in a customer relationship management person to phone me.

After expressing my utter disbelief and astonishment that the bank would do such a thing, making sure they understood exactly how grave I thought the infraction, they indicated that they would be talking to the information services people.

I requested a response to that in writing which she indicated would happen.

So, we shall see.


Anonymous said...

RBC Bank,(Corporate Bully)

Visit my website

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


I sorry to tell you this, but I read your contract via your site and it indicates that you are responsible for paying the calculated interest monthly ... at least that is how I read the Interest paragraph: "... and shall be payable monthly, on the date specified in the Agreement". Bolded are underlined in the contract.

It looks to me like your interest payments were due on the second of the month.

Perhaps I should mention this: I have signed agreements of this type in the past.

And, since I am no lawyer, this is of course my opinion.


Anonymous said...


The first payment date is one year from the date I signed the contract.
This was the first installment payment.

Paul Fraser.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


Agreed. That is your principle reduction payment.

Interest, and its payments, is another thing altogether.


Anonymous said...


How much interest would I pay per month?
It isn't typed on the loan contract.

I'm a fisherman with seasonal earnings. RBC would have factored in my earnings potential regarding loan repayment guidelines.

Banks lend money based upon debt/ratio, thus eliminating me as a qualified customer while unemployed during off season.

This loan mistake was caused by a loans officer at RBC. She was inexperienced with this type of loan.

Paul Fraser.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


Contract says RBC Prime + 3%. For the sake of argument let's say the % for the duration of the contract (prime adjusts quarterly I think) is 10%.

Year 1 loan principle:
10% of 38K = $3,800 Interest/Yr.
$3,800/12 = $316.67/Mth.

Year 2 after payment of $7,600:
10% $30,400 = $3,040 Interest/Yr
$3,040/12Mths = $253.34/Mth.

Etc. for the duration of the contract.

Amortization schedules are usually not produced unless they are requested to produce one in my experiences.

Your debt ratio would have been factored on your yearly gross since you are considered self-employed? Sole proprietorships operate on a yearly gross basis in my experience.


Anonymous said...

There is no monthly interest payment date on the contract.

Date of first installment payment,(Principal + interest) is approx.. 1 year from the signing of my contract.

Demand loan contracts signed by other fishermen around the same time showed a monthly interest payment date on their contract,(agreement).

The lending policy did change at RBC from one payment (pricipal + interest) per year for fishing loans to principal paid yearly with interest paid monthly. This lending practice was in place when I approached RBC.

Only problem is the loans officer was a replacement who wasn't familiar with these type of loans. She never informed me verbally or in writing about this new criteria.

warlock-tech said...

Good luck fighting the banks.
But have you ever tried to find a email for Gordon Nixon?.. I mean I don't expect him to read them but I figure he's got to have one somewhere.

My beef is on banking surcharges for non native withdrawals. Currently 1.50 each side. Not that you are not forewarned on the impending assault on your bottom line. The infrastructure and ease of this type of transaction and communication makes the big banks look like hogs amongst pigs by gouging customers this way.

I thought I'd send a letter to my local federal government representative and CC it to the present / CEO but thus far no go on the email.