Abbey IT upgrade locks out business customers

Business customers at Abbey were left unable to login to their accounts online yesterday, after the bank upgraded its IT systems to improve security.

The outage, which has occurred during the busy Christmas season, left many businesses unable to log into their accounts until they receive new login details through the post. In some cases, this could take up to two weeks.

As a result of the weekend upgrade, the company's business customers - thought to number several hundred thousand - were asked to enter new login details that the bank had sent them, and agree to terms and conditions, an Abbey spokesperson told Computerworld UK.

While Abbey has resolved the problems with the system, the spokesperson said other customers "weren't ticking the terms and conditions box". This meant that after a few attempts they were logged out of the system, and these customers will need to wait for the bank to send them new security login details.

The spokesperson was not able to immediately give detail on the security technology changes, but said only a "small amount of people" were locked out of their accounts and the problem was "resolved quickly".

But angry customers have complained that they are still unable to log on. Abbey customers voiced their displeasure on blog websites and comments on an article in the Telegraph. One customer said he was on the phone for well over an hour "only to be told that they have no access to the old system at all" and he would have to wait for some details to be posted. Another was told that he would would have to wait up to 14 working days for the new log in details.

In a statement, the bank said the changes were part of an "ongoing transformational programme".

"Over the weekend we upgraded the systems and services for our business banking customers," it said. "This went smoothly apart from some temporary disruption in the availability of the internet and ATM services. This was quickly resolved and we apologise for the inconvenience this caused."

Abbey owner Santander is currently looking to move the IT systems of recent acquisitions Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester onto its Microsoft and IBM-based banking platform, called Partenon. Abbey already operates on the platform.

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