Oct. 4, 2011 at 2:14 PM ET
Updated 5:38 p.m. ET, Thursday, Oct. 6: Bank of America blamed system upgrades and heavier-than-normal traffic for sluggishness that hounded website users for the better part of five days.
Spokeswoman Tara Burke said the site was operating normally Thursday.
"It was three things. We’ve been developing and deploying new capabilities for our customers ... migrating online banking to a new platform and we experienced heavier than normal volumes on several days, although these volumes were not beyond our normal capacity," Burke said in a statement to msnbc.com.
The timing of the trouble is hard to ignore, as it began almost immediately after Bank of America announced it was adding a $5 monthly fee for account holders who make purchases with their debit card. But Burker reiterated that the slowness was unrelated to the new fee, and that the firm did not suffer from a hacker attack.
Some customers who tried logging in this week received a message saying, "We're sorry our site is running slowly. As a result you may experience delays."
The bank has steadfastly denied that the outages are the result of any foul play, as it did in March when widespread outages were reported.
"Customer information was not compromised," Burke said.
No hacking group has attempted to take credit for the outages, lending credence to the company’s claim. Data obtained by msnbc.com on what times of day the outages have occurred also seem to hint at an IT problem, rather than a hacking incident.
An upgrade has been advertised for weeks. Account holders in the Pacific Northwest are currently being told that an upgrade planned for Oct. 17 will offer them "expanded capabilities like the ability to set up Alerts to monitor account activity, go green with paperless statements, pay bills with Mobile Banking, and more." It’s possible the website struggles are related to this upgrade.
Customers who face overdraft fees or other problems because of the outage should contact a branch to request refunds.
"We will work with each customer on an individual basis in regards to fees," Burke said.
Ben Rushlo, director of performance management at Keynote Systems Inc., which monitors the performance of company websites, said the Bank of America outage has been highly unusual.
"We've really never seen anything like this before, a prominent website having this kind of trouble for this long," he said.
Data provided to msnbc.com by SmartBear Software, produced through its AlertSite Internet monitoring service, tell the story of frustration Bank of America customers have experienced earlier this week. The outages have at times been severe and were worst at midday last Friday, when 90 percent of website requests failed, according to SmartBear. The heaviest outages have occurred during business hours, with none on Sunday, hinting that software or hardware upgrades being conducted by employees might be causing the trouble.
(all times are EST)
Tue, Oct. 4
[a few reports about site unavailable to users]
Mon, Oct. 3
[users reporting site unavailable through 5:20 p.m.]
Sun, Oct. 2
[a few sporadic reports about site unavailable to users]
Sat, Oct. 1
[users reporting site unavailable through 8:00 p.m.]
Fri, Sept. 30
[users reporting site unavailable most of day]