November 26, 2006

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Moneris Solutions Corp.

Annually, the holiday season brings us shopping, visits from far-flung relatives, overeating, and reports of software failure.

I laughed when I read the response of the Senior VP of Marketing - "we would like to reassure them that we have identified the problem as a software problem". That's supposed to be reassuring?

Fortunately their system is "now up and running in a highly reliable fashion" - presumably as opposed to the largely unreliable fashion prior to this timely failure.

Debit and credit blackout

Times Colonist; CanWest News Service; Canadian Press

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Many shoppers on the Island and across the country couldn't pay for their purchases yesterday afternoon after a debit and credit card system failed.

A software glitch at payment processor Moneris Solutions Corp. was blamed.

Card holders were left scrambling to find ways to pay for their purchases.

"Some people were definitely inconvenienced," said Alex Mutrie, a clerk at the Petro Canada station on Douglas Street.

"They pumped their gas, tried to use their debit and had no way to pay," said Mutrie. "We took their ID, something they'll come back for. A couple of people were really angry."

The outage began around 1 p.m. Pacific time and lasted until about 3:45 p.m., said Royal Bank spokeswoman Beja Rodeck.

Moneris is jointly owned by the Royal Bank and Bank of Montreal, but the problems appeared to affect whatever credit or debit card was used in a Moneris point-of-sale terminal.

"This is a highly unusual incident. Our system has been running without incident for years," said Brian Green, Moneris senior vice-president of marketing.

"It kind of screws up your whole day," said Brianna Cameron, who was walking around Mayfair Shopping Centre with a friend.

"The stores told us we couldn't use our debit. So we went to get a drink at the food court and their debit wasn't working either," said Thais Robson, a Grade 9 student at Reynolds Secondary School.

Christmas shopping glitch was in the cards

Tough time for Royal Bank

TORONTO -- A software glitch at Moneris Solutions Corp. prevented some merchants across the country from completing credit and debit transactions for about 2 1/2 hours yesterday until the problem was fixed.

Brian Green, senior vice-president of marketing for Moneris, said the system went down about 4 p.m. Eastern time and was fixed by about 6:30 p.m. ET.

The problem was traced to a software application.

"We were able to isolate that software and essentially pull it out and thereby restore service fully," Green said. "This is a highly unusual incident. Our system has been running without incident for years."

Moneris is Canada's largest processor of debit and credit card transactions. It processes more than 2.3 billion payment transactions a year. Green said the problems cropped up across the country.

Moneris is jointly owned by Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY) and Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) but the problems yesterday affected whatever credit card or bank card was used in a Moneris point-of-sale terminal.

"We deeply regret the inconvenience and frustration that we caused our customers and their customers," Green said.

"However, we would like to reassure them that we have identified the problem as a software problem, certainly not a capacity or volume problem, and our system is now up and running in a highly reliable fashion."

Moneris Restores Service After ‘Glitch’ Cuts off POS Traffic in Canada

(November 27, 2006) While American consumers were flocking to the stores on Friday and whipping out their credit and debit cards for payment, their Canadian counterparts were forced to find cash, their checkbooks, or to come back later because the network of the nation’s largest merchant acquirer went down for two and a half hours.

Moneris Solutions Corp. reports that a software problem in its main processing switch that began about 4 p.m. Eastern time left its merchants unable to process any credit or debit card transactions until about 6:30 p.m. A spokesperson for Toronto-based Moneris, which has 300,000 merchant locations, did not have details Monday morning about the technical nature of the problem. The problem, however, did not arise from heavy volume or insufficient capacity, Moneris reports. Nor does there appear to be evidence of outside tampering. “All indications point to an internal glitch,” the spokesperson says.

In a news release late Friday, Moneris said that when it became aware of the problem it immediately started a diagnostic and restoration process and concurrently set in motion a process to move to its back-up system. The restoration process was successful and the back-up system conversion was not implemented. During the outage, calls flooded into Moneris’s customer-service center, creating a backlog that caused some merchants to receive a busy signal.

Besides Visa and MasterCard credit card sales, the glitch affected Interac PIN-based point-of-sale transactions and American Express Co. transactions in Canada, the spokesperson says. The problem did not affect Moneris’s U.S. affiliate, Moneris Solutions Inc., which is based in suburban Chicago.

The spokesperson says that until Friday’s incident, Moneris’s system had operated virtually flawlessly for years. Network uptime exceeds 99.9%, according to the release. “It was a minor headache, and certainly frustrating for the merchants and customers,” he says.

Moneris is a joint venture of RBC Financial Group and BMO Financial Group, parent companies of the Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal, respectively. It processes more than 2.3 billion transactions annually.

Interac glitch slows holiday sales
Peter Rusland

By Peter Rusland

News Leader
Nov 29 2006

Local fallout from Friday’s nationwide computer software glitch is still being tallied by hundreds of Cowichan shoppers whose debit and credit cards were refused for use in shops throughout the Valley.

“It was hit and miss; some cards worked and others didn’t. It was a hodgepodge mess and it’s happening again today,” said Bruce’s Grocery manager Loren Halloran.

Staffer Jason Battie noted customers were able to get cash from the store’s ATM machine while regular shoppers charged groceries to their Bruces’ account.

“They seemed to be taking it fine considering the situation.”

Duncan Safeway’s first assistant manager Darren Bognar said his store’s customers were also understanding during Friday’s 1 to 3:30 p.m. downage that affected businesses using payment processors from Toronto-based Moneris Solutions Corp.

“The customers were really good about the inconvenience,” said Bognar who wasn’t on duty Friday.

“I’m sure it was cash only and some people got really good deals for waiting,” he said. “We tried to take care of our customers.

“We haven’t had any problems with our system for that long a period before outside of individual machines that had nothing to do with Moneris.”

Moneris spokesman Matthew Cramm says the Canada-wide blackout believed caused by wonky software is still being probed by the firm owned by the Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal.

“It caused the network to go down so they took that software off line and restarted the network,” he told the News Leader.

“As far as I know the new network has worked. It was as if your Internet crashed.”

Cramm calls the problem “extremely rare.”

“Moneris’ network has been running incident-free for years. It was software and had nothing to do with (purchasing) volume.

“Their network is designed to handle even more capacity and was built to grow over time. It was just one of those things but it was frustrating for merchants and customers.”

Most bank machines were unaffected.

Canada’s half-dozen other payment processors for bank debit cards, plus Visa, MasterCard and American Express charge cards were unaffected, he notes.

Customers should contact their local bank to discuss problems or call Moneris’ merchant line at 1-866-319-7450.