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Lloyds Bank error in the wild

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A subtle error in the wild

I popped onto the Lloyds Bank site to download a form relating to a future change of address and I spotted this issue…. Can you see it?…  So I reckon some people are probably having a bit of a knowing chuckle while the rest are probably scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss was about.

I’ve highlighted the error in yellow – and here’s a close up

Please wait…If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document, your PDF viewer may not…. what? be working?

 Ok – so what’s going on here?

Lloyds would seem to have a library of PDF documents.  These seem to be in 2 different version of the PDF standard.  The first line of a PDF document contains the version number – which suggests that it’s version 1.7

Failing PDF

Whereas a working document from the site seems to be in version 1.4

Extract from a working document – PDF 1.4

Loading a version 1.7 document into Chrome gives us this :

Which looks surprisingly similar to the content extract Lloyds presented on their search screen.  So it seems that the PDF file content is indexed using a PDF viewer, and rather than indexing the real content of these documents, it has used this incompatibility message as the description for the PDF content.  We can further confirm this by searching for words from this document that are unlikely to appear in typical banking systems – so searching for the term “Linux” gives 12 results, all of which feature the first part of the Linux sentence.


Searching for “Please Wait” gives 126 documents that are equally badly indexed – some don’t even have a document title.

Ok – hands up who knows what document 1721 is all about? Any ideas?

As to why some have titles and some don’t I would have to guess that documents are uploaded through some form of content management system – and that these document may originally been in an older version of PDF (say – 1.4). These documents have since been updated – possibly with new interactive form filling features, and been re-indexed. The indexing system uses a version of PDF viewing which doesn’t support version 1.7 – and therefore indexes the incompatibility message as if it were document content (after all the viewer wouldn’t know whether it is showing content, or a message).

Other documents may have been created in a newer version of PDF, and the title attributes may not have been accessible when the document was indexed.

Update – I’ve tweeted this bug information to Lloyds.