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BMO System Wide Failure in Branches and Debit Cards!

2 November 2012

Bank of Montreal (BMO) account holders are probably having a tough morning. I have come across several people in my office who have attempted to use their debit card, but have their debit card rejected.

The message read on the payment machine is: “Cannot Access System Problems”.

shutterstock 77125048 300x204 BMO System Wide Failure in Branches and Debit Cards!

I contacted BMO and inquired about this problem people have been facing, and I was told that approximately 30 – 40 minutes ago the issue occurred, which was a System Wide Failure in both branches and debit cards. Ultimately, the error was with the network.

In an age of where plastic is king, and cash comes in second, this is a HUGE problem!

What is BMO doing about it?

My initial source for this news explained that BMO was allowing clients to withdraw money, however it was a limited amount.

Also, if they knew you as a client of that branch, the withdrawal amount was higher than if they did not know you. This goes to show that making a relationship with you bank can go a long way, especially in an unforeseen situation like this.

Upon contacting BMO, I was told that banks are handing out money, but as their systems are down too, the amount depends on the bank.

The branch that our source went to was in fact allowing “known” customer to withdraw a maximum of $500, while customer they did not know, could withdraw a maximum of $200.

Now realistically, the amounts are both fine (really who needs to walk around with $500) but the fact that BMO’s systems went down, and just because you are not known at the branch you walk in to, you are faced to suffer a lower withdrawal amount? Not a good idea in my opinion, it is valid, but in the end, they messed up, not the client.

When will this be fixed?

I was told over the phone that BMO expects it to be fixed in an hour (I spoke to BMO around 10:45) So the estimated timeline is soon. I plan on checking this out for myself at 11:50 and will update this article here.

Let us know how you have dealt with this system failure from BMO. We would love to hear your story!

About the Author


My favorite weapon of choice is the samurai sword. I use it to cut my chicken during dinner, cut my hair and periodically carve my name into stone when I am bored. I love meditating on top of a 15ft high pole and eating those sushi’s with smoked salmon on top. I love everything there is about Canada and everything financially related to Canadians. I write deily posts from Canadian Banks to Credit Card information.

Comments (7 )

Someone Wrote:

Here’s the inside scoop… BMO did a code promote that affected the ability to validate account balances. Change was supposed to be implemented tonight, but got pushed this morning. The branches were also affected, but as you mentioned, exceptions were made if you went to your home branch.

Sensei Wrote:

That is interesting – so this is the reason why so many people have been locked out.

It is a shame that someone messed up and pushed it out so many hours early, affecting people. But what if it happened tonight, and the same issue. On one side, the mistake happening could have saved a lot of grief at night when people just want to get on with their weekend!

bobbi Wrote:

I flew in to Ottawa this morning. I couldn’t pay the taxi and i couldn’t check into the hotel. Both my debit and credit cards declined. Even the taxi fee of $35 dollars declined! I was furious and the bank wouldn’t tell me what’s going on. Not impressed. Since we have to rely on this silly plastic system, from which the bank makes millions in service fees, the system better be damn perfect!

Yatti Wrote:

Welcome back.. Hope you had a good break Sensei.. Pretty sad theyd try a firmware patch etc mid day.. Looks like a highschool co-op student’s work or something.. Like honestly..

Yatti Wrote:

Looks like they cleared everything up around 7-8pm last night.. That’s alot of downtime.. If they had any 99% guaranteed uptime agreements looks like these will be broken in 2012..

Randall Levi Wrote:

They are not answering any calls to branches or head office still. My credit card is rejected.
Poor with no comment from the company.

Randall Levi Wrote:

The bank will not recgonize they had any problems. However did get my card working after 8 days of not working… and guess what they said, why did you not phone… DOH!!! Oh well if it happens again that will be the end of my dealings and paying BMO for their world card.

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