For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you.Your dealings will return on your own head…
Update: BofA site outages called ‘unprecedented’
The bank has replaced its standard online Web page with an alternate
money.cnn.com ($5 fee on debit cards)
By Lucas Mearian October 5, 2011 03:59 PM ET
The six days of online brownouts and slowdowns that have plagued Bank of America’s website are “unprecedented,” a leading Internet and mobile cloud monitoring service said today.
“I don’t think we’ve seen as significant and as long an outage with any bank. And I’ve been with Keynote for 16 years now,” said Shawn White, vice president of operations for web monitoring service Keynote Systems. “It’s particularly shocking precisely because these banks know how critical it is for their online customers to be able to access their bank account. It’s so personal and dear to them.”
Bank of America (BofA) said its Web and mobile services have not been hit by hacking or denial-of-service attacks. But the nation’s largest bank would not disclose what’s causing its online problems.
The bank also said it has substituted its standard homepage with an alternate one to help in user navigation.
“I just want to be really clear. Every indication [is that] recent performance issues have not been the result of hacking, malware or denial of service,” said BofA spokeswoman Tara Burke. “We’ve had some intermittent or sporadic slowness. We don’t break out the root cause.”
According to Keynote, BofA’s online banking website has been experiencing a pattern of service disruption that has repeated itself every day since last Friday. Each morning, between 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. ET, the bank’s homepage becomes slow — so slow that transaction testing algorithms have timed out after 60 seconds of not being able to access a page.
“This is a huge problem,” said Dan Berkowitz, director of corporate communications with Keynote. “I can’t get into my account. This has been going on for six days. This is the most unprecedented banking outage we’ve ever seen at Keynote. We’ve never seen anything this extensive, ever.”
Keynote has 4,000 servers in 50 cities around the world that test thousands of websites every five to 15 minutes, collecting 550 million performance measurements daily. In the U.S., Keynote continually tests sites from 10 cities around the country.
In the case of BofA, Keynote’s testing algorithm accesses the bank’s homepage, goes to the online banking page and enters log-in information. It then drills down into account history and logs out. It is a five-webpage test, “very typical of what you or I would do,” White said.
“Early in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. — this morning it was at 8:13 a.m. — the site becomes very slow, ranging from 15 to 20 seconds all the way down to 60 seconds to complete this five-page transaction. It was to the point where our measurement agents just gave up,” White said. “Imagine you or I would give up after five or 10 seconds or hit the refresh button.”
White said that at 9:12 a.m. ET today, BofA updated its homepage with a “friendly” message saying it was experiencing performance slowdowns, and offering links for the most popular web pages, such as ATM locations or loan information.
“That’s a pretty surprising response in that Bank of America is a very big brand and their homepage is normally very colorful, very inviting, and it has a lot of interaction. Now they’ve replaced it with a very fast loading, sparse message,” White said. “For the largest bank in the U.S. to do this, it’s like being in a big shopping mall during the holiday season and they took down all the Christmas decorations and put armed guards outside the stores. I’d find that surprising.”
According to Alexa Web monitoring services, Bank of America’s website woes are number six in a list of hot Internet topics, right behind Apple’s new iPhone 4S and Amanda Knox, the American student just released from an Italian prison after her murder conviction was overturned by an appeals court.
Speculation ran high that hackers might be causing service disruptions after problems with BofA’s website began last Friday and continued over the weekend into this week.
In published interviews earlier this week, Burke said BofA had simply taken some “proactive measures to manage customer traffic during peak hours during the day,” and that had resulted in slowness.
Today, she was less forthcoming about what was causing the problems.
Update… public backlash growing against bank’s trickery…
Are big banks really changing their ways?
By Blake Ellis @CNNMoney November 21, 2011: 6:21 AM ET
The nation’s 10 biggest banks could stand to lose as much as $185 billion in deposits in the next year due to customer defections.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Customer defections over fees and other charges may not drive the nation’s biggest banks out of business, but some institutions could stand to lose a significant chunk of their deposits if they don’t work harder to make customers happy.
In recent years, consumers have grown increasingly frustrated as big banks instituted new fees and hiked interest rates on credit cards. In the weeks after Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) announced plans to introduce a $5 fee for debit card usage, nationwide movements formed urging consumers to dump their big banks and switch to smaller community banks and credit unions.
Even though hundreds of thousands of customers signed on, it barely put a dent in the coffers of America’s biggest banks, which hold about 40% of total deposits. Yet, many experts believe that if the banks don’t clean up their act, more consumers will follow suit and more serious problems will ensue.
The nation’s 10 biggest banks could stand to lose as much as $185 billion in deposits in the next year due to customer defections, according to cg42, a Wilton, Conn.-based management consulting firm that has conducted research for several of the nation’s top banks. The top 10 banks hold a total of $2.04 trillion retail deposits (deposits made by consumers and small businesses), according to data from cg42, which is based on each bank’s annual report.
‘I dumped my bank!’
The firm, which surveyed nearly 6,000 bank customers between June 23 and July 25 (well before the Bank of America debit card fee brouhaha), said the main reasons customers would close their account and take their money elsewhere included frustration with customer service, fees and other unfair charges.
Out of all the big banks, Bank of America is the most vulnerable and could lose up to 10% of its customers and $42 billion in consumer deposits in the next year, the survey found. The bank’s total retail deposits stand at $407 billion (while total deposits, including corporate deposits and deposits from other financial institutions, amount to nearly $1 trillion, according to FDIC data).
A spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment on the findings of cg42’s report.
Bank dumping: Do the megabanks even care?
John Ulzheimer, credit specialist at SmartCredit.com, said that while cg42’s projected losses seem a little high, he does think a growing number of big-bank consumers will be heading for the exits in the new year.
Many disgruntled customers have taken the first step of opening an account at a smaller bank or credit union, but have yet to close their account at the larger institution — mainly because of the time and effort it takes to do things like switch their direct deposit, set up direct billing and secure a debit card. Once consumers get that last bit of motivation they need, banks could see a big dip in deposits, he said.
“I can see a ‘dump my bank’ as a popular [New Year’s] resolution this year,” said Ulzheimer.
Don’t leave us! The banks haven’t been oblivious to consumers’ discontent. In a startling reversal late last month, every major bank that announced an initiative to institute a monthly fee for debit card usage — from Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) to the much-maligned Bank of America — backpedaled on the fee. And now, in order to repair their wounded relationships with customers, banks are getting rid of other fees, too.
Dumping your bank? How to choose a new one
“Big banks with their significant fees and high interest rates have become the villain of both Congress and consumers for the past few years,” said Bill Hardekopf, CEO of credit card comparison site Lowcards.com. “Now, some banks seem to be trying to polish their tarnished image by dropping fees and increasing rewards.”
In addition to putting an end to the $3 debit card usage fee it was testing, Chase is also getting rid of a $10 a month checking account fee it was trying out in Oklahoma and a $15 monthly checking account fee in Atlanta.
Other less controversial fees are being removed from credit cards, a move aimed at both improving the bank’s image, as well as pushing consumers toward using credit cards instead of debit cards (which have become increasingly expensive for the banks to offer), said Hardekopf.
Discover (DFS, Fortune 500) eliminated its 2% foreign transaction fee earlier this month, saying its goal is “to keep our engaged customers loyal and encourage non-engaged cardmembers and prospects to consider Discover.” Citi (C, Fortune 500) and Chase have been removing foreign transaction fees from certain cards or introducing cards without these fees in the past year.
Meanwhile, Chase introduced a new version of its Chase Slate card this month that comes without the 3% balance-transfer fee (as long as the transfer is made during the first 30 days of opening the card) that most new card offers come with.
Changes like these may not be enough to convince customers that a bank has turned over a new leaf, but it does indicate that banks are trying a little harder to listen to their customers’ concerns and needs, Hardekopf said.
“We understand Americans are looking for more from their financial institutions during these difficult economic times, and we are listening to what our customers are saying,” Richele Messick, a Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) spokeswoman said.
No more debit fees: What will the banks try next?
Yet, just because the banks have taken certain fees off the table doesn’t mean they have your best interests at heart, warned Ulzheimer. It’s still all about the money, and ultimately, a bank’s bottom line comes first. Financial institutions are constantly looking for new ways to grow revenue, whether it’s in the form of fees, lower deposit rates or higher credit card interest rates. They just know need to keep a balance, so that any loss doesn’t outweigh the benefit.
“I don’t think [banks] truly care one iota about what their customers think about them as long as they keep using them for banking-related services,” said Ulzheimer. “Banks care when they lose money — that’s about it.”
A stupid person cannot know and a fool cannot understand that wicked people sprout like grass and all troublemakers blossom like flowers, only to be destroyed forever. But you, O LORD, are highly honored forever…