Durban - In another massive banking glitch, thousands of people were left without access to their cash on Monday when Standard Bank’s computer system went down for several hours.
Last week First National Bank had problems with payroll deposits, double debits and people unable to make withdrawals.
On Monday transactions at Standard Bank ATMs, in branches and via the bank’s online banking app were affected.
This occurred on the same day the bank announced it had been awarded the Sunday Times 2014 Top Brand award for banking.
“We couldn’t have achieved it without you. Thank you Standard Bank family,” it tweeted.
However, any family loyalty soon vanished as customers across the country threatened to move to other banks. Some called the system failure “unacceptable”, while others were more forgiving, saying the crash showed that those in charge were “also human”.
On social media customers complained that the crash on the first day of the month added to the inconvenience as their debit orders were not deducted, nor did they have access to their wages.
One motorist tweeted that she had been stuck at a filling station for more than an hour as she could not leave until she had paid for her petrol.
Joburg journalist Botho Molosankwe said she got the “shock of her life” when she went to an ATM at a petrol station and found her 32-day account reflected as having no funds.
“I had to go and pay for something at my son’s school... a man in front of me had been struggling and I was hoping he wasn’t pulling any funny stunts. When it was my turn and I saw 0.00 on my account, I thought: ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ I called Standard Bank, but my calls weren’t going through. I was going crazy!” she said.
The same thing happened when she approached a second ATM. She eventually went to another branch where she saw a long queue waiting outside the closed bank.
“There was a lady outside explaining that they had a problem with their system.”
Radio personality Redi Tlhabi took to Twitter to comment. “Tjo! Standard Bank! This type of problem at this time of the month!!?? Now service providers & creditors think we are making things up.”
Some of those who tweeted expressed embarrassment when their cards were declined by shops.
“This is anarchy! This bank is going down,” tweeted one customer, while another said: “That’s it! That was the last straw. #StandardBank will see the back of me.”
Throughout the day Standard Bank posted updates on social media.
The bank apologised, blaming the problem on a hardware issue. Technicians were able to restore it after about two hours, but banking services were still interrupted by the backlog. The online banking app took longer to come back up.
Kaylem Cronje wrote: “I was at the bank three times today and I could not believe my ears how people spoke to the consultants. Come on people, how can you yell and be such idiots to these people, as if it is their fault?”
Another commended the bank staff for trying to assist them despite being offline.
Standard Bank chief executive for personal and business banking Funeka Montjane apologised.
“We would like to reassure our customers that their overall experience with Standard Bank and the services we offer remains our top priority and we regret any inconvenience caused.”
She said the bank took what happened “very seriously” and would monitor its systems closely.
Others on Twitter expressed relief at not being affected.
“Anyone who switched from FNB to Standard Bank after last week’s pay day fiasco is probably banging their head on a wall right now,” said @jonathangmeyer. – Extra reporting by Sapa and Vuyo Mkize