UPDATE 8 APR 2010: NAB has investigated my issue after I forwarded a copy of David Williams’ ITWire article “No iPad for Aussie journo due to NAB outage” to a senior PR manager Luisa Ford there as an FYI. Ford was immediately apologetic and promised to pass the feedback on to the appropriate business and IT people within the NAB for further investigation. NAB’s Email and Resolution Manager, Dawn Leicester wrote the following response to me today after pulling the recording of my call to the bank while in the Apple Store and talking to NAB’s IT people:

Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us. I’m sorry to hear that it was such a frustrating one and hope that you were able to purchase your iPad eventually.

In terms of the problem, the advice you were given on Sunday morning was correct. The mainframe is brought down for an hour on the exit from Daylight Savings to avoid issues with time stamping of transactions. Given the timing of the conversion, it’s hoped that the impact on clients will be minimal – of course this is not the optimal time for Australians overseas. In an attempt to further minimise the impact, there is an added layer of infrastructure in place which allows ATMs to provide cash to customers up to daily limits and for credit cards to provide auto approval of transactions up to a limit. I have, however, been advised that the company that provides our credit cards support also had their systems down for the daylight savings change. This certainly didn’t help things.

I have raised the issue of communicating the outage to clients and been advised that this has never been done. We are now reviewing this policy and looking at the best way for such communication to occur. I understand your point and your annoyance at the lack of advice having been caught in a similar situation while overseas a few years ago.

Dan, I really appreciate your feedback and I apologise for your less than satisfactory experience and for the disappointment that you must have felt. I have passed on the feedback to the technical areas with a request that consideration be given for proactive communication prior to planned outages such as this.

If I can assist you further, please contact me on either the phone numbers or email address below.

That is what I would call a very well researched and balanced response — and I appreciate it.  For those who don’t know the end to the story, I did eventually get the iPad — one for me and one for my employer. If I hadn’t thought to call the 24 hour lost cards hotline, I might have given up, but fortunately the lost cards operator advised that the system would be coming back up within 45 minutes or so. So, I waited in the Apple Store theatrette and watched the same presentation about the virtues of the iPad from two Apple Store employees, the first of whom was almost crying with joy to be touching and demonstrating the device (he ended his presentation with “I think this has been a really great opportunity for me…”). Finally, the transaction went through after the very patient Apple Store sales guy came back to me several times, even after Apple’s computer system had marked my card as a “fraud alert”. So, all’s well that ends well. Obviously, I’m a lot calmer now than I was when I wrote the post below inside the Apple Store San Francisco!

ORIGINAL POST: Trying to use my NAB Visa debit card in the Apple Store San Francisco today — declined, declined, declined! Even though I know there’s plenty of money in the account.

After wrestling with NAB’s pathetic call centres that are all only open during business hours, I finally get through to the lost cards line, which is open 24 hours.

Oh, there’s no problem with the card, sir, the operator says — it’s just that we’re updating all our computer systems for daylight savings and so all our card transactions, internet and telephone banking systems are down.

Sure, it’s 3.00am in Sydney, but it’s 10am here in San Francisco where I am — and that coincides perfectly with the timing of when Apple iPads go on sale. Worse, I can’t leave the store and go to an ATM to withdraw money because (a) I’d have to queue up again for hours and (b) I wouldn’t be able to withdraw money anyway due to NAB’s stupid outage.

The worst thing is that this was obviously a planned outage, but there was no advance warning from NAB — I didn’t get an email from them, and if you try to use internet banking or telephone banking, it just says that the systems are down due to technical errors.

I think it’s time that I switched to a more technically competent bank with easily accessible 24 hour customer service. This is really unacceptable.


28 Replies to “I AM SO FURIOUS WITH NAB!!!”

  1. Such bad form. It's worse that it's happening when you're overseas, but that's unacceptable at any time.

  2. You'd think they could, if you try to use the system like that (i.e. from a place where there's no warning it's down) that NAB would be able to send you an SMS straight away to advise you. At the very least.What happened in the end, Dan?

  3. Well, after about an hour, their telephone banking came back online, which was encouraging, and then their internet banking about half an hour later, and so I tried to do the transaction again at the Apple Store and it went through fine. It was also embarrassing because my card was coming up on Apple's system as 'fraud alert', and the guy was saying to me, “so at this point I'm not going to be able to help you any further sir…” Anyway, I think they could ultimately tell I wasn't a fraudster because I stuck around for two rounds of their awful iPad indoctrination presentation in the Apple theatre and spent the whole time on the phone to NAB. (The iPad indoctrination presentation is another story again… it was so hilarious seeing the Apple employees almost weeping with joy at being able to do the hands-on presentation of iPad features. One of them concluded his speech with, “this has been such a great opportunity for me guys, to go through this magical, revolutionary device with you…”

  4. FWIW, ANZ was also down (no notice that I can recall), along with several large company systems. Daylight Savings Time changeover is supposed to be a well-known scheduled downtime for most transaction related sites – as long as you remember it when overseas. 😦

  5. That's a brilliant suggestion. I'll pass it on to someone at NAB who can look into it. ANZ was also down along with major transaction sites. Happens every DST/ST change.

  6. Same exact thing happened to my partner when he tried to pay for a fancy meal in Brisbane with the ANZ debit card…ANZ took the system down for regular maintenance between midnight and 2am because 'nobody would be using it then' – on a Friday night (this meant from 11pm onward in Brisbane). Just imagine the chaos that would have been unfolding as people tried to pay for food, taxis home, hotels etc from 10pm onward in West Australia!

  7. Westpac in my opinion have been the Internet Banking leader in Australia for sometime, I never change from them purely because of their Internet Banking. They also have 24/7 card services call centres.

  8. I have 2 credit cards, each from different banks. I did to avoid this exact same problem. If I have a problem with one i use the other. problem solved. But why the F#@K would you fly to the US to buy anything just to be the first to have it. Serves you right.

  9. Sorry to hear that but you´re not alone. I have the same card and it was declined a few times while on holidays in Spain and trying to buy in ZARA. Five minutes earlier it worked and then didn´t… Best advice I can give it´s to have a second card from a different bank.If you have finally bought the iPad, enjoy it! 😉

  10. Geez, that's a bit harsh! I was sent by my employer, who is a magazine publisher and has a business reason to be interested in the iPad. Since Apple Australia pretends the iPad doesn't exist until the day it goes on sale here, we were left with few other options!

  11. You should always have cold hard cash or an alternative credit card/travellers cheques … Didn't you have any of these available to you ?

  12. Benefit of hindsight…! I did have $350 USD with me — not enough to buy an iPad though. The problem was really compounded by NAB's Internet banking and telephone banking being down. And then the fact that all their call centers were closed! Finally I did get through to someone on their lost cards hotline but that's obviously not the right place to call…Sent from my iPad

  13. Seriously, a Visa Debit card? What are you, 16? If you can't manage your money well enough to entrust yourself with a credit card, should you really be buying an iPad?

  14. LOL, OK I know you are taking the piss 🙂 I have a credit card too; it didn't work either, due to NAB's systems being down. My problem was relying on NAB.

  15. sorry mate, but suck eggs 🙂 if shopping at such an important time (i.e. iphone launch, ipad launch, etc) go cash – can't go wrong !

  16. Definitely — lesson learned. Though it could equally happen to you at a restaurant, or hotel on the way to the airport, both of which would be equally inconvenient if your bank's entire processing system was down.

  17. I think the general reason there isn't notification is because typically people who are accountable are programmed to think worse possible scenario – immediately you think of the potential for fraudulent activity…some organised group setting up multiple accounts to be able to take out cash they don't have up to their daily limit in that hour. Doesn't excuse just doing it and crossing your fingers for an hour! If they all just came clean and were abundantly clear that it wouldn't be available in that time then at least you could make other arrangements!Enjoy your iPad – I am hoping to get one eventually…might wait till they do the inevitable updated version in a year though.

  18. I'm also in the 'cash' camp but there are times when you simply might not have enough cash on hand or you could have been caught out at the end of a trip – imaging trying to check out of your hotel in the US (also around 10am) settle up for five or whatever nights' stay, and have your card payment declined. You have to get to the airport but what can you do? You're stuck waiting at the hotel desk for the bank systems to come back up.This definitely just comes down to communications with ALL customers – a simple FYI heads-up email would have taken care of this.

  19. They could timestamp in UTC and provide equivalent time for different Australian states… after all not everyone in Australia lives in the same timezone… Why do transactions all have to be in (supposedly) Eastern Australia (Sydney?) time?

  20. Very good point, and one I saw lawyer Andrew Perry make on Twitter too. I am guessing like anything to do with very old mainframe apps that they were built without a certain amount of foresight, and changing it has been deemed too expensive…

  21. ROFLMAO! In twenty six years of Internet use, that is the first time I've used that acronym. I hope you enjoyed your trip to America and what a great story! Thanks for making me laugh.

  22. But what's the bet NAB wasn't the only Australian bank to shut down its servers during that hour of the end of summer time? (This would be why it's best to run all your processes using UTC, only converting to local time to display to a customer.)

  23. Dan, my husband and I have been in the US for the past month and have run into this same issue with NAB, numerous times. His business cc is constantly being declined when there is plenty of available funds. We've advised them we're overseas and we want transactions to go through. Because we're in the US, when we call from a store to find out what is going on, the call centres are closed. As I type this, I can't even access NAB internet banking to move some money around. It's down for maintenance – no email to let me know I wouldn't be able to access my money. They're telephone marketing have also managed to thoroughly annoy me, calling at 2:00, 3:00 and 5:00 am every day. I've also informed them numerous times I'm overseas and not interested in any new products.

  24. I used to retail i have seen the eftpos servers go down and it would not work with anyones cards no matter what bank they are with

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