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To Worry About Giving My Bank Details to ParentPay If They're So Illiterate?

(41 Posts)
JoffreyBaratheon Tue 18-Nov-14 11:42:20

A few months back, start of a new term and we couldn't buy our son's school dinners as their wobbly web-site crashed under the strain of more than six parents trying to use it at the same time. My eldest son, who is a programmer, told me it would have to be spectacularly amateur for that to happen on a website and said he'd worry giving his bank details - if they can't get the basics right, they probably have rubbish security.

Today I went on there and after several attempts managed to actually pay for my youngest's lunches. But check this out! I'm being forced (our school have no alternative) to give my bank details to these illiterates and - worse still - no school in the entire UK has pulled them up on it? Or are these not possessives?

flapjackattack Tue 18-Nov-14 11:45:25

So pay in cash to the school?

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Tue 18-Nov-14 11:47:01

I think the use of some punctuation is hard when coding some websites. That's all I can see wrong with the apostrophes.

NotMrsTumble Tue 18-Nov-14 11:48:02

Our school uses parentpay and I've never had to input bank details. Credit card details, yes, same as any other online transaction. Is it to do with the way it's been set up by the school? I think some schools opt out of accepting credit cards as they get hit with processing fees.

Sheitgeist Tue 18-Nov-14 11:48:13

Those are possessives, yes, so should have apostrophes but not sure why that is such a big deal.
I'd be more worried about the possible poor security, as suggested by your son.
Couldn't you send a cheque in? I'd hate, like you, to be forced to hand over my bank details.

JoffreyBaratheon Tue 18-Nov-14 11:54:32

I doubt punctuation is that hard with coding. Or code it in a more suitable language.

I was wondering if I was going mad and imagining possessives where there were none?

It's not a big deal' but I don't feel safe giving my switch card number to a site that seems to be put together in such an amateurish way. How do we know the security protocols are adequate if they let such glaring errors go live? Also, they are operating in the education sector - so why not pay for an edit? (I'm a freelance writer and my work is liberally peppered with errors but a sub-editor is paid to pick those up).

Sadly I can't pay in cash at the school. They have signed up for this, and parents have no choice. My son can't take money in at all. And I can't go to their office and pay cash over. So we are saddled with this.

JoffreyBaratheon Tue 18-Nov-14 12:01:31

To clarify: the school refuse point blank to accept cash for school lunches. It's not that it's too far for me to go, or something. Luckily, my other kid of school age prefers sandwiches.

I'd love to know what education authorities are paying for this service? Presumably they make huge savings in admin, but I'd prefer it if they, you know... employed people, rather than forked out for something that is not effective.

morningtoncrescent62 Tue 18-Nov-14 12:06:53

I know exactly what you mean, OP. If they're too sloppy and amateurish to punctuate their website properly of course you have to wonder what else they're too sloppy and amateurish to do properly - and in that case I wouldn't want to trust them with my bank or credit card details.

Can the school really refuse to accept an in-person payment? Have you tried going to the school and politely explaining that you would rather pay in person? Presumably not everyone's in a position to pay via the internet and they should have back-up arrangements.

WorraLiberty Tue 18-Nov-14 12:12:09

Nearly all schools around here are cashless

No-one gets a choice.

HighwayDragon Tue 18-Nov-14 12:16:42

Our school have 3 laptops they lend out to parents who need them, you can also go to reception and they'll issue a paypoint barcode so you can pay at your nearest paypoint. Honestly though it's so much easier to use parentpay

LurkingHusband Tue 18-Nov-14 12:21:45

Banks are very protective of their reputation (and look how well that worked out smile) and will have regulations that anyone wishing to do business with them via a website will need to follow.

I suspect storing bank details comes under the same umbrella as PCI-DSS which mandates very strict conditions. And comes with the power of -penalty if not applied.

If you have any security concerns, ask for a copy of the schools information security policy - and if (as I suspect, but I'm a cynical bastard) they tell you they haven't got one, then the explosiveness of your reaction should be proportional to the seriousness they take it with.

CantBeBotheredThinking Tue 18-Nov-14 12:35:00

we've used parent pay for years with no issues at all. Use it to pay for all trips and supplies etc as well as school dinners.

Unexpected Tue 18-Nov-14 12:55:37

I'm not sure how you have gone from a website having sloppy punctuation to determining that this means their security is lax. It's a heck of a jump. Unless the school specifically told you that Parentpay fell over from six people trying to use it at the same time, then your son is making a massive assumption as well. The site likely crashed because tens of thousands of parents suddenly realised that their PFB was about to have no lunch on the first day of term. Depending on the error message you received, it may also have been the school at fault, rather than the website. We had problems trying to pay for anything for DC1 a few years ago, all down to school thinking that he was the twin of another girl in his year. Nothing Parentpay could do about that at all. If every website which crashes under a high volume of traffic is a security risk, then we all need to stop using all sites like Ticketmaster, Seetickets and any retail website when a new designer collaboration is launched.

LurkingHusband Tue 18-Nov-14 14:30:11

My curiosity piqued, I had a gander at ParentPay. It seems they are a 3rd party outfit that gets embedded within other websites. So it would be them handling the bank details, not the comedy site referenced by the OP.

They do have a clear ISP

and are PCI-DSS compliant which is the best you can get (as long as you don't expect 100%).

JoffreyBaratheon Tue 18-Nov-14 14:41:05

My son told me that it was pretty incredible they went offline at a time of peak demand for a day or more, and that alone would make him worry they didn't keep financial info safe.

Personally, I'd have a good laugh about illiteracy or turn a blind eye to it if it was say, a greengrocer making a handwritten sign saying "Orange's 30p". But when it is a big company creaming money from schools - rather than a state run body set up to do this centrally for all schools - I'd expect them to plough some of their profit back into having a vaguely literate web-site. I lose all confidence in any company who can't proof copy on their site. Even if that's irrational, I'm afraid it does make me think "Buffoons!" And as I said, in the education sector so no excuse.

LurkingHusband Tue 18-Nov-14 14:51:03

Just to clarify, the ParentPay part of the website is completely separate to the "main" website people see. What happens is the people who designed the main website "embed" the parentpay website into their own, so the actual payment part of the process takes place in parentpays data centre - completely separate to the main website. It may look like you are giving details to the main site (in fact it should be designed that way) but in reality the details are very secure.

It's the same way PayPal gets incorporated into commercial websites

I'm unclear from the OP which site fell over due to traffic issues, ParentPay, or the school website ? Because (as explained) they are two completely separate things. Frankly I would raise an eyebrow if ParentPay went down, but I wouldn't take it as a sign of insecure data (as previously pointed out, they are PCI compliant).

Permanentlyexhausted Tue 18-Nov-14 14:54:01

their wobbly web-site crashed under the strain of more than six parents trying to use it at the same time.

This sentence alone tells me that you are not qualified to assess the lack of security or otherwise of this, or any other, website. Pot. Kettle, Black!

titchy Tue 18-Nov-14 15:03:54

I think your eldest son needs to talk to his colleagues about how e-commerce actually works!

JoffreyBaratheon Tue 18-Nov-14 15:24:46

I still find it very hard to have any trust in an enterprise that's very existence depends on it being online, but can't get a few simple apostrophes right. smile

Maybe it's my age. But I don't want to be distracted by really childlike errors and I'm not going to have much faith in you, if my 12 year old could have proof read your wobbly site and found the errors.

It may be unjust but isn't that just basic to human nature? You're asking people to trust you, and to me that is trust giving someone I haven't particularly chosen to give, my switch card details. So why not just spend a few more quid and get it right?

Former teacher too, so I can't believe they haven't been told their site is illiterate.

Suefla62 Tue 18-Nov-14 15:32:27

If you're that concerned buy a prepay card, load it with enough for school meals and use that.

titchy Tue 18-Nov-14 15:35:46

Parentpay aren't responsible for the apostrophes, or lack thereof. That's down to your kids' school......

HighwayDragon Tue 18-Nov-14 15:45:10

Is your son my ex, because he'd say stuff like this but actually really didn't know what he was talking about...

JoffreyBaratheon Tue 18-Nov-14 15:51:22

Lurking when it went down for more than 24 hrs I think it was, there were other people from all over the country asking what had happened, so it can't have just been my school's. I think they said it was a "network issue". Not sure what that means.

Someone is on their Twitter feed only today asking when their problems are going to be resolved (not me). Someone else recently asked them why they have Twitter but don't respond to queries.

It's a separate issue but I do think government should be doing this, not allowing a private company with shareholders (therefore pressure to cut corners) be able to profit from the fact schools want this service. But then I'm an old left-winger. I don't like someone getting rich off the back of schools.

I also think schools should be compelled to offer alternatives. For me, stuffing a tenner or whatever in an envelope of a Monday morning was a damn sight faster. In this area we are about 20 years off having fibre-optic broadband and the service we have constantly has problems so I can't guarantee I won't lose connectivity half way through making a payment. As it did today. Twice. There must be other people in rural areas who have the same problems. That is not their fault but the school's for insisting we use it and have no alternative whatsoever.

toptrumps1 Tue 18-Nov-14 15:59:17

The site is not illiterate, at worse it's been poorly proofread, probably down to the pressure on them to deliver a working website to a deadline.

Does your son work directly with e-commerce, and web design and functionality? Whilst he may be a computer programmer, unless he works directly in this field then he is not qualified to make that statement. He is also completely wrong.

Lots of companies exist perfectly well online, there is a need whether you like it or not. Age is not an excuse.

Anyway, if you're unhappy with this, our local high school uses fingerprint recognition as part of their cashless pay system. I'd worry far more about my identity being cloned than my bank account.

LurkingHusband Tue 18-Nov-14 16:02:29


Ah, so it does sound like ParentPay was down ...

sadly, cash is probably the worst of all available options. It can be stolen before children get to school, and it places additional burdens on teachers or school staff to handle money.

When our DS was at school, it was a cheque once a month. They had fingerprint readers to avoid cards. Not perfect, but it meant less queuing for lunch, plus a nice itemised list of the "healthy" options he was eating hmm

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