PNC Online follow-up

Two days after my posting about PNC’s online banking system, I got a call from one of the techs in the department to which big problems get elevated (the ones you can’t call from outside PNC).  He had also been with National City, so knew both systems well.  He listened fairly patiently to my rantings, but had no real explanations for the past problems – other than that it had taken a full year to switch all the new customers over to PNC’s systems.  He was able, though, to segregate my business from my personal accounts while we spoke, which immediately resolved the conflicts with payees and put the different accounts into different online areas, as they should have been from the beginning (one under personal banking and the other under small business banking, with separate log-ins.) Surprisingly, he gave me his contact information so that I could reach him for additional help as necessary.

He also corrected some of my misunderstandings about the system:

First, payment instructions from Quicken and QuickBooks do not go to Intuit, as I was told by one of the online reps.  They in fact go to Fiserv (see previous post), who acts as both the front and the back end of the process for PNC.  This is different than National City’s system, where they had their own OFX servers for processing Quicken and QuickBooks information almost instantaneously.  (Getting a similar system up and going for PNC is apparently in discussion.)

The easiest workaround, the tech rep confirmed, is to use PNC’s online web payment interface, which can then be downloaded to Quicken or QuickBooks for archiving, and for my end of year accounting.

The immediate question is whether to continue setting up accounts with USAA, which functions as something approaching an open source alternative for finance.  They maintain a large, low-cost system which relies on infrastructure set up by others.  (USAA customers can access most any other bank’s ATM’s, and have the charges for using them reimbursed by USAA.)  On a practical basis, using USAA requires still having a local bank account for deposits and transfer to USAA accounts.  There are apparently ways to scan checks directly to USAA, once you have been approved for a credit card (?) – or just to mail checks to them in San Antonio, but that obviously incurs days of delay for access to the money.

This all begins to feed into my other recent journey of moving from Windows to Linux (Ubuntu)… in the next post.

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