America’s Most Inconvenient Bank

Assigned Reading: Computer ‘Glitch’ Cripples TD Bank Transactions
(FROM: Boston Herald)

Thousands of TD Bank customers were shocked today when they learned their routine bank transactions weren’t immediately going through – including critical first-of-the-month bill payments.

Due to what’s being described as a major “computer glitch” tied to the merger of the old TD Banknorth and Commerce Bank of New Jersey, TD’s computers posted all transactions a day late through part of this week.

Oh, and it’s a lot worse than that. Some customers have not been able to get in touch with customer service for three days and, worse yet, the glitch isn’t just limited to transactions.

The current balance in my checking account, for example, is ($118.82) — that’s $118 in the negative. Now, I’ve always tried to be honest about our hardly stellar financial condition, even pouring my heart out on the eve of the mortgage bailout about my own bad decisions, but while Joanna and I may very well be the posterchildren of paycheck-to-paycheck living and only have a confidence-inspiring balance in our checking account, we certainly have more than the deficit reflected by the geniuses at TD Bank.

In fact, a classmate and good friend of mine–a securities broker who will always be my go-to guy for ideas on fiscal policy–checked his TD Bank checking account balance in class tonight and found that he was more than $550 below zero.

And because TD’s telephone customer service is understandably swamped, local news is recommending that those with accounts at the large and growing bank go to a local branch to straighten things out. Yeah, I’ll get right on it — between work, school and everything else.

It absolutely blows my mind that an up and coming financial institution like TD Bank, which touts itself as “America’s Most Convenient Bank,” could be so irresponsible so as to permit such a glitch to occur during the merger of separate systems. Fortunately, my wife only found out about our suddenly negative balance as she attempted to fill her car with gas; things could have been much worse. If we had been at the supermarket, with a cart full of food and an emergencies-only, small-balance credit card still mostly full due to an unexpected auto repair expense we’ve been forced to pay off slowly, we would have been up a creek without a paddle. And what of our outstanding checks for child care? For the plumbing work we just had done in our only bathroom? And, more importantly, consider the effect this could have on small business owners who depend upon the bank for effecting cash flow, for ensuring that vendors and employees alike are paid. That TD Bank wasn’t better prepared for every contingency leaves much to be desired.

Of course, Joanna and I have a small amount of cash stored for emergencies, but that cash is there for true emergencies when access to funds are enjoined by circumstances more dire and catastrophic than a mere computer glitch, not trips to the supermarket or broken drain pipes. Of course, I’m a big believer in self-reliance, but in the course of everyday operation, certain institutions–and private ones, at that–should be able to fulfill support obligations.

I’ve previously lauded and applauded TD Bank, and Commerce Bank before it, for refraining from becoming entangled in the lending issues which led to our financial crisis. And it still should be lauded for responsibility of a systemic nature. However, something as foreseeable as a computer problem during the combination of two systems should be accounted for, and a safety net should be created before any problem emerges.

We’ll get our balance back. I’ll make certain of it. Throughout it all, though, I couldn’t help but think of the problems which occurred within this normally competent organization, and compare that with what could happen with big government running information-heavy, electronic and computer-dependent systems like health care.

A single glitch wiped out transactions and balances for nearly every customer of a medium-to-large private bank. Imagine what government bureaucracy could do for everybody.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh my gosh, Jeff. You just saved me a ton of embarassment. I was planning on going to Wal-Mart with my elderly mother tomorrow morning, and thought I had money to cover it.

    I had at least $2000 in my checking account. Now TDBank says I have -$342. I would have NEVER checked it before tomorrow and like you I only pay with my debit card.

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

    Megan S.
    Portland, ME

  2. Anonymous says:

    I just made a little contribution to AR, Jeff. Its not much but maybe it will help a bit.

    ~Your Gun Buddy in the Lone Star State

  3. Gail B says:

    We never know how well off we are until we read about a catastrophic circumstance like yours!

    A couple of years ago my bank in NC (FNB Southeast) was bought out by another bank. The name of my bank is now NewBridge. There was not even a flutter of telephone pages in search of a customer service number. The routing number changed, and a 0 was put in front of my account number. Other than that, there were no problems at all. I would have freaked out if there had been a similar glitch.

    I get nervous if my balance goes below $1,000. I would probably end up in the hospital with an anxiety attack if my balance showed even a dollar negative. Honestly, I do not handle "broke" well at all.

    Jeff, I would send you some, but we've already been through this conversation, when your baby was in diapers. I will pray that the money tree $prout$ and that the glitch is fixed ASAP.

  4. Gail B says:

    Jeff, you must be dreaming! That ADVERTISEMENT clearly states "Open 7 Days, LEGENDARY SERVICE, and HASSLE-FREE BANKING!"

    If it weren't so serious, it would be downright FUNNY!

  5. GATOR-1 says:

    I will just say that about 5 years ago I joined a Credit Union and dropped both banks I was using.

    I have been kicking myself in the rear ever since just for not doing it sooner! I will never use another bank. The difference is day and night! I am a PERSON no longer just an account number. I have been overly thrilled with their service.

    But even with that said people always make mistakes…..today on my normal first of month stop at the CU, the cash deposit went into the wrong account, which in turn over-drafted the main account. They do this somewhat often, but a simple transfer on my part resolved the situation and I am sure no OD charges will be made.

    I encourage Everyone to at least join a credit union….even if just to keep a few bucks stashed. I would bet most that do will end up using them as their Full Service bank eventually.

    Just my 1.5 cents…..the economy ya know?

    BLESSINGS PATRIOTS

  6. Anonymous says:

    A similar situation happened to me once when my bank made double debits by mistake. Although they corrected the mistakes within a couple of days it still didn't help the embarrassment I received at my local grocery. I hope things are worked out soon for you Jeff. Just remember, "this too shall pass".

  7. bdaman says:

    Jeff, how bout some coverage of Donofrio's latest. NEED HELP!!!!

  8. Rix says:

    Life happens, Jeff. Computer glitches happen, too, it is a reality of XXI century we live in, and noone has a heavenly guarantee that it won't happen to him or her. A distinction between a good and a bad bank is how it deals with such glitches, so let us watch them for a week after they rectify the situation before passing judgment. If they publicly apologize and try to compensate their customers who experienced a problem, I'd say they have my confidence and trust. If they make their customers whole but sweep the story under the rug, it'd raise an alarm flag. And if they attempt to follow BofA's dubious suit and try to profit from their own mistake by shamelessly charging overdraft fees, cry foul and abandon them to their own folly.

    PS: My wife has an account with Commerce/TD for years and had not experienced any problems lately.

  9. Jan says:

    As a certified project manager (PMP) a lot of these types of issues can be identified and rectified in beta. Unfortunately effective and efficient project management is still hard to come by, especially with such a large undertaking as something like this. My husband, also a PMP, works for a company specializing in computer solutions for banks and credit unions. A proper risk analysis and mitigation plan may have possibly identified this and prevented this. However, things do happen. We shall see how effectively they correct the problem and handle their customers.

  10. TD Bank says:

    We have completed processing all of yesterday’s transactions. As a result, Customers currently can see account balances as of end-of-day Thursday. This is a significant improvement compared to yesterday’s delay, but Customers are not yet seeing their account balances updated in real time. We’ve prioritized the processing of today’s direct deposits, which is currently underway. Customers will see updates later today, though some may see them sooner than others. We’re making progress in resolving the processing delays, but recognize any delay is frustrating for customers and we want to sincerely apologize for that inconvenience. TD will reverse fees, charges or interest incurred as a result of this disruption. We are working to solve the problem as soon as we can. The stores are ready to serve customers and we advise people to stop by the store. Customers’ transactions remain safe and secure, and are being posted as soon as possible. We have empowered our employees to work with customers individually to resolve any outstanding issues that arose as a result of this delay. We continue to operate on full tilt to get this resolved.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Jeff said …"What could happen with big government running information-heavy, electronic and computer-dependent systems like health care" ???

    Why, you could be electronically castrated, Mrs. Jenn Schrieber!

  12. Anonymous says:

    what?
    these jokers are already telling us it is too complicated to upload the healthcare Bill.

    imagine trusting them with pages by the millions on a monthly basis. that alone is enough to scare you straight and tell them to keep their fingers off of healthcare.

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