Buy-Line crash hurts online firms

, posted: 3-Feb-2004 22:17

The only New Zealand-based multi-currency internet credit card processing service, BNZ's Buy-Line, went down just  before 3pm last Friday, leaving many web merchants unable to complete orders until 3.30pm the following day.

The Buy-Line service is used by about 300 merchants in New Zealand and BNZ's head of transactional payments, Russell Briant, estimated that half of those were affected. He said the outage started at 2.50pm on Friday, when the processing server "started behaving abnormally".

The bank assembled a team of technicians from Auckland and Melbourne to fix the fault, but they were unable to bring the Buy-Line service back online until 6.30am on Saturday. Full service was restored at 3.30pm. The fault was put down to a network problem, and not a hardware issue as was first thought.

Peter Mott, who runs North Shore ISP, said his company was unable to process any new domain registrations paid for by credit cards throughout the outage. Mott said 42 other merchants using the Buy-Line service through the internet provider could not process credit card transactions for over a day.

Mott said that Buy-Line had suffered frequent outages since started using the service in 2001, and that 10-15 per cent of credit card transactions failed due to a "technical error". Despite frequent complaints to BNZ, Mott said the Buy-Line service had not improved.

Online merchant Angeline Ruger said the weekend outage cost her online Stoffels Department Store at least $6000 in lost sales. Like Mott, Ruger said the problems with Buy-Line had been ongoing.

"We have had complaints from customers whose credit cards have been billed multiple times, or whose orders have not been processed," Ruger said. She said that the billing problems had hurt customer confidence in her online store and that she had had apologise to buyers on the web site.

Ruger said the Buy-Line problems escalated leading up to Christmas. The BNZ blamed Ruger's web hosting service. "After Christmas, I had had a gutsful of BNZ's poor service," Ruger said, and filed a complaint with the Banking Ombudsman.

After the complaint, Ruger said that BNZ's attitude towards her had improved, but she was still unhappy with the
outages affecting her business. Asked if merchants would be compensated for the losses incurred while Buy-Line was down, Briant said that it was not the bank's "usual practice" to do so. He said the bank's terms and conditions for the service stated that the "e-commerce environment" could be uncertain.

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