Sampo Bank problems continue - cards fail again on Wednesday
Bank urged to improve communication, thousands of customers change banks
Bank tellers at the Sampo Bank had to work overtime on Wednesday to serve customers who were unable to withdraw cash from cash machines or make large purchases with debit and credit cards issued by Sampo. A glitch in the bank's data system caused re-emerged on Wednesday.
Cash withdrawals were possible at Sampo branch offices, and Sampo extended their opening hours until eight in the evening to accommodate the customers.
The faults were fixed on Wednesday evening, but there was no guarantee that the problems might not re-emerge. Sampo had experienced similar problems in late March and earlier this month stemming from the merger of Sampo's data systems with those of its new owner, the Danish Danske Bank.
Small payments with Sampo's debit cards and with the Visa and Master Card credit cards that it issued worked normally. However, if the sum of money was so large as to require an authentication, the payment did not succeed.
Sampo's Visa Electron debit cards did not work at all.
The Sampo branch office at the Helsinki Railway Station filled up with customers who had been going from one cash machine to another on Wednesday afternoon trying to withdraw money.
Kirsti Halme wanted to check her bank balance, but the cash machine did not accept her card. She was angry at the bank, but praised the staff at the branch office.
"Very friendly service. The bank teller apologised so profusely that I almost cried", Halme said.
Hanna Kunnas had similar experiences. "I couldn't get any money from the ATM. I wanted to buy shoes and sunglasses", she said.
She did not give up, as she really needed the shoes. She withdrew money in the bank itself, where she was served by Minna Nurkkala.
"It certainly has been a busy day", Nurkkala said.
Sampo Bank says that the problems stem from a malfunction in data traffic in Denmark. Sampo Bank is owned by the Danish Danske Bank.
"It was a more extensive malfunction, which meant that the security codes of our cards did not reach their destinations. That is why the cards that needed verification did not work right", says Sampo's head of communications Hannu Vuola.
The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) reported that the disturbances stemmed from IBM.
Vuola also characterised the problem as extensive, troublesome, and regrettable, and said that the customers "have the right" to be angry.
Sampo says that the latest problem with the cards is not directly linked with the merger of the systems of Sampo Bank and Danske Bank.
"It is a problem in data transfer, although for the customer, the result is the same."
Financial Supervision Authority Director Anneli Tuominen is not satisfied with the amount of information given out by the Sampo.
"We have observed Sampo Bank the whole time and asked for reports. We have asked the bank to increase the amount of information it gives to the customers", Tuominen says.
However, the authority does not have the means to improve Sampo's services.
Tarja Lankila, chairwoman of Suora, the labour union representing banking staff, says that the problems are a blow to Sampo Bank's reputation. "This is a risk factor, when personal service is reduced to aminimum."
Sampo Bank CEO Ilkka Hallavuo conceded on a current affairs programme on YLE TV1 that Sampo had lost thousands of customers. He also promised that the bank will compensate any economic losses caused by the change in the bank's IT systems.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Hundreds of Sampo Bank clients considering changing banks (3.4.2008)
Sampo Bank struggles throughout weekend to fix computer problems (31.3.2008)
Sampo Bank CEO apologises for electronic glitches (28.3.2008)
Serious problems with launch of new online service of Sampo Bank (26.3.2008)
Finnish Sampo Bank Group to be sold to Danish Danske Bank for EUR 4.05 billion (9.11.2006)