Inappropriate icon in online banking

Recently the Bendigo Bank redesigned its user interface for online banking. I am currently in receipt of a Centrelink pension due to illness, and to my surprise, I found that pension payments into my account were now embellished with, of all things, a smiley face icon.


Needless to say, I wasn’t very impressed by this. Although I’m very grateful to receive a pension while off work and awaiting surgery, I’m certainly not happy about the situation, and having a smiley face next to the transaction felt insulting.

I contacted the bank and was told that the smiley face icon is used generally for deposits. Really? So someone who has just started receiving a widow/widower’s pension will be greeted with a smiley face? As will someone who is receiving a payment from a deceased relative’s estate, or a homeless allowance? Nice one, Bendigo Bank!

I pointed out that using a cutesy icon was not appropriate on a banking interface, and that deposits could be related to unhappy or distressing events. I’ve done this twice now, and it hasn’t been changed, although I did receive an acknowledgment of my complaint.

I have sent a third email today saying that I would like to escalate the matter, and stating that I will be closing my accounts if this isn’t dealt with (I’ve been a customer since I was five), and writing about it on social media.

Do other people think it’s appropriate to use smiley faces in online banking? How would you feel if you received a deposit in your bank account related to illness, disability or death of a family member with a smiley face on it?


It wouldn’t worry me, especially when the smiley face is possibly the simplest one I have ever seen.

If it wasn’t a simple one, but like one of these for example (:grinning::grin::joy::smiley::smile::sweat_smile::laughing::wink:) it could be seen as being cheeky or other which could cause hidden meaning to arise.

If they the simple smiley face for deposits, what do they use for withdrawals? A simple sad face?

Is the happy face used for all deposits?

I suppose the marketing boffins in the bank think that when one gets a deposit, it is seen by most as thing good (receiving money) and potentially make one happy (hence the happy face).

I personally wouldn’t be associating the happy face with the receipt of the pension, but a general deposit (assuming that it is used for other non-pension deposits).

If the happy face is only used by the bank for pension deposits, then this could cause unintended consequences to those who may have difficulty accepting the grounds for the pension.

Hope this helps.


I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought about your lead in, but with this statement:

I think you made your point fairly clearly and effectively. Not all deposits are cause for celebration - some happen in incredibly sad circumstances … being a beneficiary of the estate of a loved one as simply one I can relate to.

… and not all withdrawals are unhappy - I’m quite pleased to send money to a loved one when they need it or for a special occasion, or to pay my kids school fees knowing they are really benefiting.

Online banking interfaces need to be clear and simple - and work. I certainly do not need a bank assuming my equivalent smiley-face for any given transaction - I simply want to know how much it was and which direction it went - and how much is left afterwards.

… and seriously - one wonders how long the relevant clowns at Bendigo spent in meetings debating the presence or absence of the emoticons, the shape, size, colour, line thickness - how many focus groups, trial runs, surveys … either that, or some junior web-plasterer snuck it through and management still don’t know it’s there !! :wink:


Lying in bed last night thinking of your post and what difficulties you may be under at the moment. The following came to mind (not to be responded to on this forum but to be digested in your own thoughts)…

Is the reaction to the happy Bendigo Bank face caused solely by the face, or is there something else in ones life which caused this reaction…and your happy face reaction is a way to express these other things which may be in ones life?

Once the above has been considered, then think whether your reaction and response was appropriate and rightly measured based on the circumstances which exist.

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It’s lucky you’re not with Bank of Queensland then… they spend all their time telling me “it’s possible to love your bank”. It’s possible I will grow a hand out of my forehead too but I’m not holding my breath.
Banks try desperately, as to other businesses, to make you feel good about them, especially now after the RC. Their arrogance is in the delivery… they just don’t think you could possibly have a problem with the way you perceive them. Good on you for complaining to them kushami.


OT: that sounds like it would be really handy (Ahem …) - imagine the things you could do! holding your nose/breath just one of them …


I will finally know the sound of one hand clapping and ascend :wink:

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It wouldn’t bother me, kushami. I’d just take it as a generic ‘person’ icon, no comment on personal circumstances.

I did once complain to Qantas about an email promo for gourmet hampers and wine to ‘celebrate’ ANZAC Day. Some people mark the occasion, some don’t, but it’s hard to imagine many people celebrating it, with or without overpriced and overpackaged nibblies. You might almost think that the Qantas marketing dept. doesn’t actually have a clue what ANZAC Day is, other than a public holiday. Some weeks later they sent a reasonably gracious ‘sorry’ and I haven’t seen a similar promo since.


I cannot believe the little things that people complain about. While it could be annoying to some, I would think how cute in any situation.
There are bigger things in life to worry about. Look after your health first and forget the icon.


Apparently, it is used generally for deposits.

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Well, being sick isn’t much fun. However, I still don’t think it would be very nice for someone to receive a deposit with a smiley face on it connected to a deceased estate or a widow/er’s pension, for instance.

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I wonder, would you still think it was cute if the deposit was the payment from a family member’s will?

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It’s not so much that I think the icon is commenting on my personal circumstances, just that it is inappropriate.

I agree, ANZAC Day is something we observe, not celebrate. Glad to hear that they apologised and corrected it.

In both cases, it seems that the marketing/design people didn’t think through the message they were sending.

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Banks do come out with a lot of marketing nonsense. A bank should want customers to rely on it, trust it … but love it? I that is weird!

I ended up speaking to a more senior person at the bank who seemed to get my point.

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I have learned something from this thread unrelated to the topic I posted about, and that is that people make all kinds of assumptions about “sick people”. I usually do not tell people in real life that I am sick for this very reason, but I forgot about it when I was posting here.

So, just to clear this up: I work in communications and useability, and it is my job to look at how messages are received. Even if I wasn’t sick, I would have noticed that this icon was inappropriate, because I am paid to think about how communications might be received in all circumstances.

I am not some poor sick person sitting at home thinking the world is against them and looking for things to complain about. I have pointed out many similar gaffes in my time that didn’t relate to my personal situation, and it was poor communication on my part not to make this clear in my original post. I wrote with an emotive tone because I was putting myself in other people’s shoes – an important skill in my job – but it obviously came across as personal distress.

No matter how long I work in communication, I still have a lot to learn!


Yes I would, it would be lovely that they thought enough of my to include me in their will and the smiley face would represent their smile for the deposit

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