The Commonwealth Bank has said that refunds may be available to customers affected by a major outage of some of its banking and payments systems, as it works to clear a “backlog” of payments.
At 12.15pm on Thursday (17 October), CBA posted on its website that “we are currently experiencing an issue affecting some of our services”, with the cause being “urgently investigat[ed]”.
Just 15 minutes later, the bank confirmed that PAY-ID and BPAY services had been hit, as well as cardless cash from ATMs and some services in both branches and call centres. EFTPOS terminals and ATMs were said to have been unaffected by the outage.
However, the bank later said the outage had also impacted CommBiz access and payments.
It was 1am on Friday before the bank revealed that “services are starting to recover”, and 10.30am that day before it confirmed that “services are operating as normal”.
Processing delays continue
Angry customers were still venting their frustrations at the outage after the issues had been resolved, noting they still had to receive incoming funds.
“How long will it take? As I am waiting for money to come into my business account,” Alan Thonhill tweeted on Friday morning.
“It was transferred yesterday from ANZ.”
Even myGov was forced to issue an alert about Centrelink payments, with the official account tweeting on Friday morning that “all Centrelink payments have been issued overnight” and to check with CBA if payments had not been received.
CBA said on Friday that despite the problem now being resolved, the almost 24-hour outage had caused delays in processing payments.
“We are working through the backlog of payments as quickly as possible and rest assured that all payments both into and out of customer accounts are being processed as a priority,” the bank said on its incidents page.
“We know some customers will be experiencing delays with payments. Payments from CBA accounts to CBA accounts are processing as normal.
“Payments from other financial institutions into a CBA account will be processed as normal during the course of the day.
“Payments from CBA accounts into other financial institutions have been sent today. If you are a customer of another financial institution, you should check with your bank or credit union on when these payments will be processed into your account.”
My Business understands that internal CBA transfers were resolved overnight on Thursday, but that external payments — both incoming and outgoing — could continue to face some delays as the backlog was cleared.
Customers were asked to be mindful that the bank’s call centres were experiencing a higher than usual volume of calls because of the outage, meaning response times are likely to be slower.
Customers won’t be left out of pocket
CBA subsequently apologised for the incident, and insisted that customer accounts are “safe”.
“We are working through the backlog as quickly as possible, but rest assured all payments both into and out of customer accounts will be properly processed,” it said in a statement.
“There may be delays to our contact centres and we thank customers for their patience. We have brought in additional staff to serve customers to assist with any outstanding issues.
“We are very sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers.
“We want to assure customers that their accounts are safe. The internal system issues related to an upgrade implemented on Thursday.”
A spokesperson for bank confirmed that internal fees and charges incurred as a result of the problem, such as on late payments and account overdrafts, would be waived, while other costs arising from the outage would be assessed individually.
“Our focus has been rectifying our systems and getting services up and running for our customers. We have additional staff in our branches and call centres to work through outstanding issue and provide whatever support they can,” the spokesperson said.
“We will be refunding all fees that have been charged to accounts as a result of this outage. We will of course consider any further assistance we can provide on a case by case basis.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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