July 26, 2006 3:45 AM PDT

System glitches hit two banks' online services

Two of the nation's banks struggled on Tuesday to repair glitches at their Web sites that had prevented customers from fully accessing their accounts for as long as two days.

Emigrant Direct, a bank recently written up in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for offering high-paying savings accounts, saw a malfunction block customers from entering the site for long stretches over a two-day period, according to a bank employee and customers who posted complaints at an Internet message board. A note placed on Emigrantdirect.com apologized for the intermittent outages.

A representative for Emigrant Direct could not be reached for comment.

Seattle-based Washington Mutual saw a systems defect prevent some customers from performing banking chores, according to the bank's representative. Customers of the financial services company who e-mailed CNET News.com said the problems began appearing over the weekend.

Online banking is one of those service sectors where site operators have to get it right, analysts have said. A hobbled Web site can undermine consumers' confidence in a financial institution, especially because many people just now making the switch to online banking fear that hackers or a system mishap could lead to losses.

Emigrant Direct, which operates mostly in the New York metropolitan area, announced last week it would take the site offline over the weekend to perform an upgrade. The site was supposed to be back up on Monday. But as Monday afternoon came and went, customers began to get nervous when a revamped site failed to debut.

"Co-worker and I have been attempting to access the site since this morning with no luck," said one person who posted a message at Bargaineering.com. "Concerns me a little, but understand they are undergoing changes for the better (I hope)."

The outage, coupled with the scheduled weekend closing of the site, meant that some customers had been without access to their money since Friday.

At Washingtonmutual.com, some customers were able to view basic account information but were not able to complete other banking functions such as paying their bills, transferring money or calling up their transaction history, according to people who e-mailed CNET News.com.

"If I attempt to click on 'bill pay and loans' I get a message that says 'Portions of our Web site are temporarily unavailable due to regularly scheduled maintenance,'" Patrick Briggs, a Washington Mutual customer, said in an e-mail.

Gary Kishner, a Washington Mutual spokesman, acknowledged that the problem wasn't caused by maintenance but said that it didn't affect a large percentage of customers. He said the problem was expected to be fixed by Wednesday morning.

See more CNET content tagged:
bank, online banking, banking

27 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
as of Wednesday morning...
As of this (Wednesday) morning Washington Mutual's "Free BillPay" is still not available.
Posted by mikedcox (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Still stonewalling
I just called Customer Service - they are still saying it is scheduled maintenance... with no estimated time till services become available. They have yet to learn to lie in unison :)
Posted by byl01 (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Still down
WAMU still will not permit access to the bill payment forms. I think this BEGAN as scheduled maintenance over the weekend as I noticed major changes in a number of forms (with some bad html too). Then WAMU began to crack up with some pages working and others not. Having been in the biz for many years, it looks like the load testing was inadequate, the decision to implement during the weekend the sign of amateur IT management, and the backoff plan, if any, failed.
If it is down tomorrow, I will be openning accounts elsewhere...
Posted by peterbboswell (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maintenace
Yes, they are trying to blame it on a glitch of the system but in reality it was a maintenance with no rollback. Nice work guys! Someone should be canned for this.
Posted by esteban28 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Still not working!
I will also be opening accounts elseware as it appears that even after several full days they cannot either back out their changes or fix what went wrong in the upgrade.

Incredible display of IT incompetence, and more importantly, arrogance. Not even a public acknowldgement of their screw-up....
Posted by jdt27 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They don't even bother to lie convincingly...
So, the spokesman says that the loss of online bill pay didn't affect a large percentage of customers. Excuse me, why else would their customers log in?
Posted by byl01 (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Response
Two reasons why people login: (1) Pay Online (2) Pay Online. If it's not a big deal, then they should expect me to use their tool anymore.
Posted by esteban28 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Outage has only affected a few people
I called customer service today to see how much longer this
"outage" would be. The guy copped an attitude and said it's only
affecting a few people. Well, if it's so few I'm sure they won't miss
my account as I will be searching for a new bank.
Posted by kjsouthernbelle (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Outage has only affected a few people
I called customer service today to see how much longer this
"outage" would be. The guy copped an attitude and said it's only
affecting a few people. Well, if it's so few I'm sure they won't miss
my account as I will be searching for a new bank.
Posted by kjsouthernbelle (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Affecting a few people
Negative. It affected a lot of people. I'm transfering my money out as soon as possible.
Posted by esteban28 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Coincidence?
I have both WAMU and Emmigrant Direct as my only banks. Both of them failed about at the same time. Unbelievable!
Posted by tzima (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Failed Online
WAMU has been outsourcing too much. I think it is time to realize that their customers are in the USA.
Posted by esteban28 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Still down Thursday
CNET has more info than their Customer Service
pitiful the way this has been handled
Posted by thugrilla (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Up sorta for a moment
Early Thursday morning, part of the bill payment system came back up. You could see scheduled payments, past payments (with bogus error messages for all payments made before last weekend) and view, perhaps maintain payee's. But you could not schedule new payments and it was more frustrating than being down. I would guess from several changes that they are moving more actively to use ACH for payments and to have the bill payment system cognizant of which payments are routed electronically through ACH, which is good by me as it saves time. However, this "upgrade" looks like a classic bungling to me. They need to back off, get up, clean up their act and try again. The cost of losing customers is much higher than the cost of acquiring new ones...
Posted by peterbboswell (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Unacceptable
The most detailed explanation of the outage has come from CNET, and it's described here as a "system glitch". How pathetic, WaMu. I can only hope this "system glitch" didn't involve any breaches in security.

If so few people are affected, then why don't we all just close our accounts? Probably wouldn't affect WaMu's bottom line at all, and who knows, maybe they'll be able to keep their site up with the reduced load.
Posted by arioch777 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WAMU - I give up!
Okay, it is Thursday afternoon and I still cannot get onto Bill Pay. I have ten bills that I intended to pay last weekend that will now all be late, I will need to make an unnecessary trip to Office Depot to purchase envelopes and an equally unnecessary trip to the post office for stamps, and I will probably get a bad case of writer's cramp all thanks to the wonderful people at WAMU!

I, too, was told that this was an intermittent problem, and that I should keep trying and it will be up soon. I asked the CSR if I could give her the bills I wanted to pay over the phone and she told me yes, but that she could not do it because her system was down (great, the bank can't pay its bills either!).

Now I am beginning to worry that my auto-scheduled payments will be screwed up too.

WAMU is now my all-time favorite of incompetent, uncaring banks. I thought they could not outdo themselves when earlier this spring they had the brilliant idea of arbitrarily changing the sort orders of primary & secoundary accounts which caused me to rack up 5 NSF charges (they did later waive them but made me feel like they were doing me a BIG favor).

Today I am going to do my own BIG favor and switch banks. Forget apologies, WAMU needs to step up to the plate and say who they are firing over these glitches, before their customers and investors start dumping WAMU in droves!
Posted by dugmug1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Serious bill pay errors
I have no problem logging on to their site. The site even allowed me to schedule a payment. Good thing I checked the schedule after I received confirmation. The system actually scheduled my payment to the WRONG PAYEE!! If I hadn't checked, the wrong party would have been paid. I attempted this several times and the same error occurred. I was able to cancel my transaction and managed to send an e-mail to customer service. I indicated my lack of confidence in the security of my funds but all I received was a scripted apology for the inconvenience and a statement that they can not give me any idea as to how long it will take to resolve the problem. Outrageously unprofessional.
Posted by tsindill (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
WAMU online
Although the site is temporarily up, if you retry twice online payment, you get an error. It appears that they are having serious issues.
Posted by esteban28 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Ugh, STILL not working
I thought they'd be down an extra day at most but not until today. This is VERY surprising for any mission-critical site to be down this long. When I called Customer Service on Sunday night, they said the problem was affecting other banks as well--as if it was an overall banking problem. I now know this isn't true.

I'm sure they're going to lose quite a few customers to this issue.
Posted by jsmithjr732 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
totally screwed up huh?
sounds like a complete disaster.

good luck getting your transactions reversed and your money back!

these people are in some serious denial here!
Posted by baswwe (299 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Time to short this companies stock?
The WAMU onlinebanking system hasbeen down since Sunday. In this modern era of computing that is like and eternity. Bloggers are talking about moving their money from WAMU as a resulto fthis out. WAMU stock will most certainly take a short term hitr from this as this HAS to become a national news story! But what are your choices, Bank of Mexico (BofA) or Wells (loans to illegal immigrants) Fargo?
Posted by ggpggp (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
National coverage?
Why hasn't this outage become a bigger story? This is the only article/acknowledgement of it that I've seen. I just hope that the payments I scheduled last week go through, because I can guarantee that I won't be paying any late fees due to WaMu's screw-up.

I emailed customer service about my frustration and desire to move to another bank yesterday and they gave me some lame excuse about the outage and a warning to check competitors' fees before switching. What does that have to do with them doing their job? Did my free checking account cause the guy that does the back-ups to get canned?

As a programmer, there's no way I'd still have my job after something like this - and certainly not in the BANKING industry!!
Posted by Lissa78 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WAMU Online Bill Pay Catastrophe!
This is outrageous! Something very serious has happened here. Support just tells you that there is no timeline to get this resolved. WAMU didn't notify customers in advance of the "upgrade", and has no customer communication strategy for when things went horribly wrong! No notice on their homepage, nothing! Where is the CIO in all this?
Customers are in the dark. Has security been compromised too?
Posted by xclntgig (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Fixed by Wednesday? I don't thjink so.
I am still unable to pay bills or transfer funds. I get a variety of error messages -- none of them helpful.
This is a real problem for me because I'm currently nowhere near a WAMU branch so if the online banking doesn't work, I can't pay my bills. I can't even transfer money to another bank that actually has a working site.
I used to think that WAMU had the best online banking site but this week has proved otherwise.
Posted by Beauzeaux (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
use the automated phone system to pay bills
i'm another customer that hasn't been able to pay bills online. I ended up using the automated phone system to pay bills after customer service failed to submit the payments after spending 30 minutes on the phone with them.

wamu has done a good job of covering this up considering this is the only article i've found for the "glitch".

i haven't had any problems before this and was very satisfied. mistakes do happen. i grant you that, but when you don't admit to them and try to cover it up and do not inform your customers then that's when i have a problem with it.

great news though... i just logged in and tried to pay a bill, it didn't work, but i was told they're working on the problem and was solicited for a home equity loan and a phone number to call. maybe we should all call that number and ask them when the online bill pay will be working again. :)
Posted by pnutsmomndad (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The people who should be hearing about this
I suggest that the "small percentage" of customers affected by this fiasco attempt to reach the people ultimately responsible:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.wamu.com/about/corporateprofile/executivesandmanagement/default.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.wamu.com/about/corporateprofile/executivesandmanagement/default.asp</a>

I'm assuming their email addresses are firstname.lastname@wamu.com. I sent an email to addresses in this format and it didn't bounce back, but could have just been directed to junk mail or deleted along with all the other customer complaints.

If anyone knows the real addresses, please give us a hint.
Posted by arioch777 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Still unable to pay bills....
I did also find this

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://haacked.com/archive/2006/07/21/WashingtonMutualUpgradesToASP.NET.aspx" target="_newWindow">http://haacked.com/archive/2006/07/21/WashingtonMutualUpgradesToASP.NET.aspx</a>

WAMU is a total bunch of morons. Thier CIO should be canned.
Posted by jdt27 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.