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.
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.