Wells Fargo said that a systems outage prevented some customers from using its ATMs and mobile and online banking services, promising to reverse any fees people incurred because of the disruption. Although the bank said the issue was largely resolved on Thursday, customers said they were still having problems accessing their accounts on Friday, including their direct deposits.
On Thursday, the bank said its ATM services had been restored and its mobile and online systems were working, although not all features were functional. For instance, it said consumer credit card and mortgage balance weren't yet working. The company blamed a "contained issue" at one data center, and said it wasn't a cybersecurity issue.
Wells Fargo said in a statement on Friday that "some transactions and balances were not visible in online banking or ATMs earlier today," but added that "the transactions were processed normally."
"This issue has now been corrected, and all transactions are now visible," it said. "We are experiencing higher than normal volumes so there still may be delays in online banking and contact center response times."
Wells Fargo said its 5,500 branches will extend their hours by one hour on Friday, February 8, and Saturday, February 9, if those branches are normally open on Saturdays. CEO Tim Sloan apologized for the outage, saying the recovery "was not as rapid as we or our customers would have expected."
The bank blamed the outage on an automatic power shutdown triggered by "a smoke condition" caused by "routine maintenance activities in the building."
Direct deposits missing
Some Wells Fargo customers on Friday morning complained via Twitter about not receiving their direct deposits, while others said they still couldn't access their accounts. Some customers reported that their cards were declined while attempting a purchase, and others said they couldn't pay their bills on time because of the glitch.
Tim Knotts, a certified financial planner, told CBS MoneyWatch he wasn't able to get onto his account on Friday morning and was worried because his employees were scheduled to receive their salaries via direct deposit today.
"I am concerned for my employees," he said via a Twitter message. "Just tried to log in again, but no luck ... for the nation's 4th largest bank this is unacceptable!"
Later in the afternoon, he said he was able to get back into his account. "Everything looks good. Payroll hit as planned. Panic subsiding. Now, not sure how long it will last," he wrote.
Adding financial stress
Others said the glitch was causing stress about financial milestones like closing on a home purchase.
"I've supposed to sign my mortgage docs tomorrow and my lender can't 'access the system' to generate them. If I can't close on my house and the seller defaults me then what? U giving me my $45k earnest $ back?" one Twitter user wrote to Wells Fargo.
The stress felt by consumers underscores the thin financial margins that many Americans experience, said Matt Schulz of CompareCards.com.
"When everything goes smoothly, they have no problem paying the bills," he noted. "However, when there's a hiccup in the form of a medical emergency, job loss, government shutdown or even a technical snafu at the bank that hits their bottom line, it doesn't take much to cause real problems."
The outage comes after a series of scandals at the bank, including bank practices such as phony accounts and manipulative sales practices. In December, Wells Fargoto settle a range of allegations from 50 states and the District of Columbia over those issues.
The same month, Wells Fargofor an error affecting an estimated 545 customers who lost their homes. The giant bank filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, revealing it incorrectly denied 870 loan modification requests. About 60 percent of those homeowners went into foreclosure.
On Friday morning, some customers vowed to switch banks.
"How have y'all not given an update in 10hrs? You suspend my online access yet I can't create a new password to get logged in. I hope you lose every customer. I know I'm one that's leaving," one Twitter user wrote.