BMO apologizes to MasterCard customers over service glitch

BMO MasterCard customers have complained about service disruptions this week. The bank said on Twitter the interruptions would be resolved. Canadian Press/Mario Beauregard

Bank of Montreal apologized Wednesday for a service disruption that has affected online banking services, resulted in declined credit cards for MasterCard customers and created long wait times into call centres this week.

“It’s been quite frustrating,” Christina Ing, a marketer in Vancouver told Global News on Wednesday.

Ing’s BMO MasterCard hasn’t worked since Monday.

After being declined at a pharmacy, she was on hold for 90 minutes with BMO’s customer service before hanging up.

Another attempted purchase was made Tuesday but was again declined – her third. She hasn’t tried to use her card since.

“I’ve been carrying around cash with me just in case,” Ing said. “It’s bad going in to stores over and over and not having it work.”

Ing isn’t alone. Scores of other BMO customers who’ve seen their credit cards rendered useless or online banking information become inaccessible have been asking the bank as well as MasterCard what’s going on.

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Many of those who have been turned away by BMO’s seemingly overwhelmed customer service phone lines are turning to Twitter.

Ralph Marranca, a spokesperson for BMO, said the disruptions were related to “systems work, which resulted in some errors processing payments to MasterCard accounts.”

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BMO said the issue would be resolved by Thursday.

“Unfortunately, this has led to higher than normal call volumes,” Marranca said in a email message.

Marranca added BMO wasn’t “seeing any unusual pattern of cards being declined,” but several cardholders said on social media their cards have been unexpectedly rendered useless in recent days.

George Kouvalis from Guelph, Ont. found himself in North Bay on Wednesday without a credit card thanks, he says, to the service disruption.

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Kouvalis, who was visiting friends, was on hold for hours, unable to get through to inquire about why his MasterCard wasn’t working. “I’m starting to wonder if they have been hacked or something,” Kouvalis said by e-mail.

Online credit card services also appear to have been disrupted.

Jordan Palmer, a law student at the University of Ottawa said a payment he was trying to make to his card was declined.

Going online, he was informed he couldn’t access his account.  Numerous attempts to reach a customer service rep on Monday were unsuccessful, he said and Palmer was again disconnected when he called in on Tuesday.

“I called [for a third time Wednesday] morning and twice was given the disconnection message. I finally got through to someone who told me that all account [transactions] had been delayed ‘by a few days’ and that everything was fine,” Palmer said by email. “I guess only time will tell.”

Other BMO MasterCard customers tweeted out they there were able to connect to a customer service representative, though after a longer than usual wait time or being hung up on.

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Messages on Twitter from BMO’s feed notified customers the bank is working to resolve the disruptions.

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“Those attempting to view credit card info on online/mobile banking may experience [temporary] interruptions,” the bank’s feed said. “We’re working to resolve.”

The message was uniform to various individuals complaining about the disruption, and appear to have later been deleted.

“They’re just copying and pasting responses,” Ing said, adding customers were “not really getting any satisfactory responses from them about when service would be back or what’s going on.”

Ing said she is considering switching cards.

“I’m probably just going to move to VanCity Visa or another credit card that’s more reliable,” she said.

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