Customer anger grows over BB&T outage blamed on data center ‘malfunction’

Macon Telegraph

BB&T said on Friday that its automated phone service and ATMs had begun working again, after a service outage on Thursday impacted millions of customers.

The bank told customers that as its systems returned online Friday, some of the information they see in their accounts had not been fully updated from Thursday. “We expect those balances and transactions to become current later today,” the bank said in an online update.

The outage – blamed on an equipment malfunction in one of the bank’s data centers – was first reported Thursday afternoon.

Customer frustration and anger grew by the hour on social media, although the bank said it was “well into the process of making those repairs.”

A bank spokesman told the Observer that some systems began to recover shortly after 1 p.m. Friday.

Just before 3:30 p.m., the bank said most of its financial centers would stay open until 7 p.m. Friday to help customers “with any questions, challenges or concerns.”

“We understand there is so much frustration related to this outage, and we want to do everything possible to help our clients,” the bank tweeted.

BB&T financial centers normally open on Saturdays also will stay open two additional hours. “Again, we are deeply sorry for this inconvenience, and we’re here to help,” the bank tweeted.

Customers can find the latest information about the outage at https://www.bbt.com/sites/bbtcom/outage-information.page.

“I feel they should be more forthcoming with what the issue is... and stop beating around the bush,” posted Deb Bie on the bank’s Facebook page.

“I have to get my money out for my truck to be fixed!!! Y'all need to get it together or I'll take my butt on somewhere else!! This doesn't make any sense,” said Lala Givens on Facebook.

BB&T, headquartered in Winston-Salem, first alerted customers to the problem with a tweet Thursday afternoon, noting many of its services were unavailable, including online banking, the mobile banking app and ATMs.

A statement issued early Friday noted customers could still use their debit, credit and prepaid cards. “If you’ve incurred any fees or experienced any issues directly related to this outage, we will work with you to address those issue as our systems come back online,” said a statement on the bank’s Facebook page.

Bank officials said they do not believe the issue is related to a cyber security attack.

Customers expressed their concern and growing frustration on social media Friday, with some asking whether online payments and direct deposits will process as scheduled.

“How are we supposed to use our debit/credit cards when we can’t see our current available balance?” asked Kelly Giesenhaus on Facebook.

“I have a three year old who needs to eat. You keep giving us an ‘update’ with the same information you’ve been saying for 12 hours now. I have access to nothing,” posted Aysia Lanique.

“What's the holdup if there was no hack? How am I suppose to use my debit card if I cannot see my balance?” asked Lawrence Taylor.

“If I can't walk in to my local branch at 9 a.m. and withdraw every cent from my accounts, then my next stop will be at a lawyers office,” posted Kyle Richards on the bank’s Facebook page. “You can do nothing to keep me as a customer after this, nor stop the complaint I will file with the federal reserve, but if you keep me from obtaining my money I will take any course of action I can against you.”

BB&T is one of the nation’s largest banks, with more than 2,100 branches in 15 states and Washington DC.

An outage map showed the biggest impact was focused much of central North Carolina, Atlanta, the Washington DC area and Philadelphia.

A similar outage was reported in July by Charlotte-based Bank of America, which suffered widespread system outages. The outage generated customer complaints across the U.S.