‘We are deeply sorry,’ BB&T CEO says of massive outage. Customers fuming.

‘We are deeply sorry,’ BB&T CEO says of massive outage. Customers fuming.
BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly King (Credit: Screen shot of video)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly King has released a video apologizing to the thousands of angry customers who were denied access to their money for days via online banking and ATMS.

In the video, King said he wanted to come directly to customers in regard to the system outages, which the Winston-Salem-based bank blamed on a malfunction at one of its data centers.

The statement comes amid growing angry over the affair. BB&T is the third-biggest bank by deposits in the Charlotte area behind Bank of America and Wells Fargo, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. It has 70 branches in the area, according to the FDIC.

"We know this was a major inconvenience and we are deeply very sorry. I am personally very, very sorry," King said in the 90-second video. "I want you to know that all of us and me particularly will not rest until we've made it right."

The outage, which began Thursday afternoon, was due to an equipment malfunction and it denied customers access to their money via online banking, mobile apps, ATMs and other systems. Officials said the bank is still not fully recovered and problems have included some transactions being duplicated.

Over the weekend, the bank began addressing individual customers questions via Twitter, apologizing and explaining some of the problems that have begun to occur as systems come back on.

"The good news is, all systems have substantially recovered, but we're still working through some issues for some of our clients," King says in the statement. "I'm happy to let you know that there is no reason to believe that this was...a cybersecurity issue. We're absolutely committed to do anything everything we can to make this right, whether you are our client or not, we are here to help."

He restates that the bank will waive or reimburse any fees directly related to the outage.

"Our associates are working around the clock," King said. "We're carefully reviewing the cause of this issue and taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen again...We are deeply sorry for the challenges you have faced because of this unfortunate event and we are committed to making this right."

Calls for King's resignation began almost as soon as the video was posted. Complaints included a lack of information on the extent of the systems breakdown early on, and no warning of how long it might last.

"The only message here should be: 'I resign'," posted Jason Maynard on the bank's Twitter account.

"You should resign," tweeted Adam Woods. "While I know the problem was not your fault the response has been horrid. I was on hold for hours. I tweeted several questions that went unanswered. It's now Monday and there are still problems."

"Your response is unacceptable," tweeted Mike Goff. "Federal Reserve should investigate, and your board should resign."

"There is no excuse for any of this. Redundancy is the cornerstone of technology and THAT is clearly where you failed us," posted John Howard on the bank's Twitter page.

BB&T reported at least 10 percent of the responses to the apology on Facebook were positive. A bank spokesman also said positive comments on Facebook were outweighing calls for resignation 2 to 1. The bank forwarded some of the positive Facebook responses to the Observer.

"I see people are understandably upset (at) BB&T, but I think it is nice to hear from Mr. King directly," tweeted Lewis Weinerman. "As a customer of BB&T, as well as a shareholder, I appreciated the Twitter updates during the weekend. Good customer service is demonstrated by how you deal with issues WHEN they come up."

"Thank you for being so honest and upfront with everything," Veronica Bramlett said in a Facebook post shared by the bank. "And no matter what others thing or say, I've never had any other bank agree to fix changes that they applied due to a service outage."

"Speaking of other banks, I don't remember seeing any CEO or...VP apologizing," said a Facebook post by Debbie Ridenhour Boose, shared by the bank.