Bank Of America/Merrill Lynch’s ridiculous software requirements

This is a rant.

Bank of America and Merrill Lynch are in the middle of a merger. They are slowly rolling out updates and making subtle modifications to accounts, web sites, procedures, etc. So, I was not very surprised when I attempted to login to my BOA online account access today (this update may have occurred sometime this week - it's been several days since I have logged in), and there is a new "Electronic Communications Disclosure". Not only is the document updated, but it is so important, that I must "consent to this document in order to continue using Online Banking."

Ok, so they updated the documentation to include the Merrill Lynch info. Nothing too terrible in here, I'll just clic - hey what's this?

This document has updated "required hardware and software". Interesting, their website has gone so far as to say that they have required hardware specs? It is no longer sufficient to assume that if I have adequate hardware to run your required software, that I am in the clear? That's strange, let me read through this.

So, the section in question is included in my comments, but if you want, check out item (5) at the BOA site (A caveat - I don't recall ever reading the previous version of this document, and it's probably true that a lot of the same issues were present in that version).

And here are my comments - some general writing concerns, more technical discrepancies (I thought I would fire up the Windows machine and use Microsoft Word for this, seems ironically appropriate to me):
BOA/ML software requirements concerns

I am going overboard here, and probably 98% of the BOA and ML customers will just click to consent and go on their merry way. But I hope I made a point, and that point is, BOA and ML should be ashamed to publish this information. It offers non-sensical and impossible to achieve scenarios. I also want to pose the question, and I am going to start paying more attention to this, do all online services have such horribly documented technical requirements?

Since merely identifying a problem is inherently unhelpful, I will also propose that BOA and ML consider offering Software "Recommendations" instead of "Requirements". These Recommendations should detail the OS/Software combinations on which they have tested their web application (I would hope they are actually testing their Online Services on a variety of OS's and Browsers), because they obviously didn't test Chrome 3.0 compatibility on Windows ME. Perhaps BOA and ML could also take 40-50k out of their executive bonus pool and hire a technical writer to put together a couple paragraphs worth of software requirements that actually make sense? Personally, I would expect better documentation from an unpaid summer intern.

By reading this article you consent to printing documentation only when a printer is connected to your computer.

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