Tuesday updates: TD Bank still putting customers back online

TUESDAY 2/20 UPDATE: After “11 days without service,” TD Bank customer Mark Gindele of Bensalem reports his TD Bank Bill Pay account is working again as of this morning. Though it’s still a bit buggy: “When you log out, you get an error message.” He adds that TD Bank “did ‘prepare’ customers for the change, but never said it would take more than 10 days. This software rollout is a disaster.” Gindele says he may switch to another bank.

South Jersey resident Chris Baekstrom, an IT veteran who has personal, business, and checking accounts with TD Bank, gave the company some credit for warning customers of the upgrade to come: “But it was supposed to be down two days. It’s been 10 days and I still can’t get online! This is awful. If switching wasn’t so much work, we’d be gone now.”

“Totally unacceptable,” says TD Bank customer Marty Connolly, of Philadelphia’s Spring Garden section. He says he’s been fielding “multiple different responses from customer service” since the upgrade disrupt began last week. “All testing should have been successful before a go-live of this magnitude,” he told me. “They sent me a survey yesterday regarding customer service, and I suggested that perhaps this may not be a good time to ask. Argh!”

“They failed at IT 101,” writes Dave Thorn, a retired IT professional and TD customer who says he and his wife got back online Monday after a week without access. “There was no word to customers, other than a weak mention of ‘problems’. When changes go as poorly as they did, the first thing they should have done was back out the new stuff while they figure out what went wrong. But no, they make customers suffer. There’s no way the fix should have taken as long as it did. No way. There must have been massive confusion.”

“You wrote that TD Bank defended its efforts by saying in part that they ’emailed communications weeks before the upgrade took place.’ I received one email notification a couple of days before the change,” said Andrew Sherling of Cherry Hill, who was steamed he had to take “precious time” from helping his wife adjust to her nursing home to deal with TD Bank on the phone, online, and at the branch to keep their account working. “As for the new site adding ‘intuitive navigation, useful tools, and improved security,’ I have to say that I had to jump through hoops to properly access the site.”

Harry McCullough’s TD Bank personal and business logins both failed, from last week until today, when “the ‘Personal’ (account) just allowed me in to pay a bill,” said the Society Hill resident. Then “it logged me out without warning.” He was able to access his account using the Edge browser, but “I have had less luck with Chrome.” He added that “staff and services at the TD bank branches are fine. The web site has always been clunky. Dated.”

McCullough said TD’s warnings failed to advise users how long the outage could last. As to the “upgraded” TD site, “if there are enhancements,” he told me, “I’m not seeing them. Even old-fashioned Bryn Mawr Trust shows more transactions than TD’s 60-day limit.” Before this snafu, “I have been very happy with TD Bank.”

MONDAY 2/19: A difficult systems upgrade at TD Bank frustrated some customers and branch staff on Monday, a week after the bank began fielding reports that users were getting locked out.

“Their online banking login, using a computer, is broken, period,” in his case, said John D. Lalli, of Malvern, after his wife broke out with an uncharacteristic “four-letter cursing event” at another failed attempt. Visiting TD’s Paoli branch, he found the staff pleasant, including a greeter to handle “potential irate customers,” but they proved unable to get the couple back online. A “half-baked” smartphone app gives his payments some visibility, Lalli added, but the display is limited: “We cannot see all of our auto-billing payees.”

Customers accustomed to fast, digital updates complained that they didn’t feel informed. TD Bank defended its efforts: “To give our customers sufficient time to plan for the disruption as well as alternative means to bank, we notified customers about the upgrade via online/mobile banners, a microsite, social media posts, and emailed communications weeks before the upgrade took place,” the company said in an email Monday. “We ran into some technical difficulties and, as a result, some customers had trouble accessing our online banking and bill pay services.” By Monday, “the majority of customer challenges have been resolved.”

TD and rival Wells Fargo are the dominant retail banks in the Philadelphia region: Each manages more than $25 billion in loans and other assets through more than 100 Philadelphia-area branches.

“I spent more than an hour in the [TD] branch” on Route 202 on Sunday without regaining access to his account, Chadds Ford resident Fred Krumm told me. “I had gotten through to the help line Saturday afternoon. They told me I needed to go to the branch to have my ID verified. So I go to the branch, and they tell me I need to go through the help line! Can’t make this stuff up.”

The bank’s local staffers “were helpful as they could be,” he added, noting they rely on the same centralized phone and computer assistance as customers. After an 80-minute wait, “the branch worker verified my ID, and we went through some procedures with the corporate folks.” But in vain: it all “failed to get me into my online account.” He’s hoping he’ll be able to reconnect “today,” he said Monday morning. “Maybe tomorrow.”

Krumm checked TD customer notes on the Down Detector website. The site shows TD customers logged more than 80 complaints from Feb. 12 through early Feb. 19, mostly from people who said they couldn’t check their accounts or transfer funds remotely. That compares to 10 in all January.

Last Friday, TD spokesman Matthew J. Doherty said the bank “apologizes for any inconvenience.” He said the upgrade promised “to enhance our customers’ online- and mobile-banking experience,” adding “intuitive navigation, useful tools, and improved security.”

Reader Mike Artz said that, after his account went down last week, TD met its own Sunday-night mobile service reconnection target, for his account.

Artz sent me a TD statement advising customers they’ll need to update their browsers for the new system, and giving instructions for downloads and cache-cleaning. As part of the update, “we’ve transferred over all your account information including payment and transaction history, scheduled payments, and access to statements and notices” to the new system. But “you may need to reenroll in online banking,” using “a onetime security code” which the bank will send by “SMS text or voice message whenever we need to verify your identity,” for example, from a new device.

“They claim it was a software update, but it took almost the entire week,” said reader Gary Harman, of Cherry Hill, who regained his account late Friday. “It crashed,” he added. He was glad to learn, after the fact, that TD paid his taxes and made other online payments on time. But he disliked not being able to confirm that for several days: “The real issue here is a lack of communication. TD Bank has an active Twitter account, they could have used that to alert customers to what was going on.”

A message acknowledging “Something’s not working quite right” greeted Jay Beckerman, of Schuylkill Township, Chester County, when he tried to log in last week. The toll-free number left him on hold “at least 15 minutes,” he added. “The customer service was awful.”

His service was back by Monday. Beckerman has a suggestion: “Honesty would have resulted in a screen message saying the computers were down.”