As most money-bloggers and readers know, that's what happened Monday with Emigrant Direct (affiliate link). The rollout of their new interface didn't go as smoothly as they planned, I'm guessing, because ED accounts were offline for most of the day. The personal-finance blogosphere cringed, of course. And the Fatwalleters practically had to fight off coronaries.
Over the last few days, however, I've found Emigrant's new interface to be up and running consistently.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with the changes. (I've updated my Emigrant Direct review on the main site. Screenshots are the tasty new flavor, too.)
The fact that Emigrant hyped its new interface as much as it did, but then couldn't handle its implementation on its own self-imposed schedule, is a tad ominous. I'm a little bit leery now, as are lots of other users. Will it happen again? Only time will tell.
I do know that my blood pressure didn't boil as others' did. Personally, I'm willing to chalk it up as an IT and/or marketing snafu. I'll give Emigrant the benefit of the doubt. Let's face it: I've been perfectly happy with them up to this point ... so happy that I've never bothered to open any other online accounts (think HSBC, GMAC, Amboy Direct) just to earn marginally-better rates than what Emigrant offers.
On to other things, though. As far as Emigrant's upgrades, I'm happy to see that we can now link up to four accounts to Emigrant savings. I certainly don't like the fact that linked accounts must still be validated with a voided check that's snail-mailed to Emigrant. Many online banks don't require this any longer. I'm not sure why Emigrant has decided that they must rely on this practice, unless they simply don't want people linking Emigrant accounts to other savings accounts for the sole purpose of rate-chasing.
Appearance: It's nice that a visit to my new-fashioned Emigrant Direct account doesn't make me feel like I'm stepping back into 1996. People might ask, "Aw, who cares what the GUI looks like? They're paying good interest rates, right?"
Yeah, that's valid. But the way I see it, if a bank wants customers to take it seriously, then it needs to present a "serious" and contemporary face to those customers. That's what Emigrant has now done. It's nothing special, but it was well overdue. (It also needs to NOT go effectively offline for several days, but we've covered that.)
Other items of note:
- Anybody else notice the new "Affiliates" hyperlink in the footer? Right now it's a dummy link, taking you to a "Server Too Busy" page. I wonder what Emigrant has planned for this.
- The extended security log-in doesn't matter to me one way or the other. Some people seem really ticked about this — especially the random personal questions. I cannot imagine why.
- A family member opened a new account yesterday, and her process was handled entirely online. No snail-mailing by her. No waiting for documents from Emigrant. I contend that this is an excellent procedural change, and am very glad to see it.
I can almost hear the Emigrant people, over the last year or so, listening to incessant phone calls from users asking, "Why can't you be more like ING Direct?" A lot of what ED did with this revision just mirrors ING's offerings. And you know what they say about imitation . . ..