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Chase Public Apology Addresses Online Banking Outage

Several days after an extended online banking outage affected some 16.5 million customers, New York-based Chase issued a public apology on its website.

In addition to explaining that most online payments scheduled Monday through Wednesday should have been processed by the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 15, the bank also said it will refund any late fees incurred as a result of the system's unavailability.

The full apology, posted here, goes:

We are sorry for the difficulties that recently affected Chase.com, and we apologize for not communicating better with you during this issue. Giving you 24-hour access to your banking is of the utmost importance to us. This was not the level of service we know you expect, and we will work hard to serve you better in the future and to communicate with you better if a situation like this should arise again.

Online Bill Payments scheduled for September 13, 14 or 15 were processed by Wednesday night, September 15. It is not necessary to reschedule these payments. If you scheduled a payment during those dates, but do not see it reflected in your payment activity by September 16, please contact us.

We will refund any late fees that you may have incurred as a result of our delay in processing your payment.

Thank you for your patience and for the opportunity to work harder to serve you in the future.

As Celent senior analyst Jacob Jegher pointed out Tuesday, it's important in times of outage or perceived crisis that a bank be quick to deliver simple messaging to set forth customer expectations and provide alternate methods for accessing their banking services.

"A simple message is enough," he told Bank Systems & Technology. "At least something, updated regularly."

Chase's message on Thursday was something. But it comes after three days of customers experiencing complete outages or inconsistent service through Chase's online banking. And many of them took their complaints to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, where opinions sometimes overpower answers.

To be fair, no major consumer website will be operational 100 percent of the time. But one's bank account is among the most highly personal services that can be accessed on the web. Chase's apology is clear, simple and succinct, and it largely sets expectations for its millions of online customers. But after three days of silence, is it too little too late?

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