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Another glitch in BofA Net service

Additional maintenance to the bank's Web site caused the second service glitch in a week.

Some Netizens have turned to their banks' Internet offerings to avoid going to the bank and waiting on line. But many have found themselves instead merely waiting online.

Bank of America, which recently merged with NationsBank, has long touted its "HomeBanking" Web-based service as a way for its customers to have instant access to 24-hour banking.

"With Bank of America's online access, you can bank by computer, at home or work at your convenience 24 hours a day," the site reads, noting that Sundays from 2 a.m. PT to 6 a.m. PT are reserved for maintenance. "You decide when you want to bank, whether it's 5:00 a.m., midday, or midnight."

But 24-hour access was a false promise for thousands of BofA's online customers this week. The site stumbled Monday after requiring many users to fill out new personal profile information to integrate various accounts. The extra time users took to fill out that information clogged access to the site, according to the bank.

Early this morning, more maintenance caused additional delays.

"We had scheduled downtime during wee hours of the morning in order to add more memory," said bank spokesman Harvey Radin. "There was also some other fine tuning that is part of this process."

Radin noted that the bank posted a note to the site at 5 p.m. yesterday warning of this morning's maintenance work. He also said customers may have had access to other electronic banking channels that were not affected by the Web upgrade, including the company's site on America Online's proprietary online service, BofA's proprietary direct-link computer banking service, and its phone banking service.

Online banking and brokerage firms have come under pressure for not living up to the "always on" ideal that many have played up to promote their services. Brokerages in particular have been vulnerable to large influxes of users as markets have undergone wide fluctuations.

Radin noted that with the exception of this morning's maintenance, BofA's Web-based service was back to normal in the past two days.

But one CNET News.com reader disagreed.

"I have not been able to access my account since [Sunday] save for one time, and it was brief," the reader wrote. "I am greeted with 'Document contains no data' and 'Server refused connection' errors. BofA declines to respond to email inquiries, and a call to customer service was returned a day later suggesting that 'the server was down.'"

"That has not been the case," said Radin. "My understanding is that everything is back up to speed. It's been shown that we offer high-quality service and we try to do that consistently and we certainly apologize for any inconvenience that we caused our customers in our Internet channel. Overall the service works exceptionally well."