Online PR Crisis: Bank of America Website Down, no Explanation from the Owner

2010-01-29 by EPR Staff


When an institution like the Bank of America has technical problems and its corporate site stays offline without notice, the customers’ concerns flow, and the media has a duty to keep the public informed. The first to report BofA’s problem was Business Insider’s John Carney, who specified in his report that “a tipster speculates that it is possible that Bank of America has been the victim of a cyber-attack.”

Regardless the cause of this malfunction, when a site stays offline a few good hours – especially a site that is basically a portal between consumers and their financial accounts – the owner has the duty and the obligation to release an announcement that explains the issue. On its Twitter account, BofA doesn’t offer explanations, but the following statement:

Yes, we are aware of the issue and our technical team is working to resolve it as soon as possible. Thx for your patience.

Not long ago, the same BofA Twitter team posted the following:

Our website is available. However, some customers are having intermittent issues with access. We are working to determine the root cause.

But the site is not available, as customers continue to ask for support, unable to access the site. The idea that only “some” have difficulties doesn’t fly. None of the above qualify as a reasonable answer that would give users peace of mind. And of course, not all BofA customers would look for answers on Twitter. What happens with the other users, who are still using the old fashioned browser? Even mobile users don’t have it any easier, although some do manage to get trough and access their personal accounts, according to commentators on Business Insider Clusterstock.

Did BofA send a bulk email notification to customers explaining the issue, something in the art “Dear valued customer, we are experiencing a technical difficulty with our website. No reason to worry, your online accounts are safe, etc”? No – we haven’t received anything yet. Even Twitter finds a way to communicate with its users when the site is down, or over capacity.

In the meanwhile, BofA’s customers who want to use their online accounts have no other choice but to wait for the tech team who is “working diligently” to solve the problem.

Bank of America is represented by Emanate,  Weber Shandwick and Burson-Marsteller.