• United States


Oct 14, 20082 mins

For more recent updates visit the latest blog entry on the situation SHAREBUILDER WEBSITE IS DOWN AGAIN!!! – ING DIRECT CUSTOMERS OUTRAGED OVER LOSING MILLIONS FROM THEIR ACCOUNTS Updated on March 19th, 2009.

As we all heard, Monday’s gains in the stock market was one of the biggest in history. Unfortunately, ING Direct customers did not have the opportunity to take advantage of the rally. Their trading accounts were frozen due to a system wide outage with the ING Direct’s Sharebuilder trading platform. This system wide outage, which is negatively affecting customers portfolios, positions, and their chance to cash in – has not been rectified since the opening bell on October 13th.

Many customer who wanted to take advantage of the rally by making trades or selling off were forced to use ING’s phone system as an alternative to the online system which crashed. As you can imagine, the phone systems are jammed and some customers have spent over 3 hours on hold while trying to obtain a customer service representative. By the time the representative becomes available, it is to late as the market positions have significantly changed causing major losses for their customers.

It appears that the IT Department at ING Direct that is responsible for planning a scalable system was negligent and didn’t anticipate high volumes of transactions. Other discount brokers such as ETRADE and TD Ameritrade have been very proactive in sizing their systems. They have experienced slowness due to the unexpected high volumes, however, their systems are still robust and have not crashed causing a 36 hour and counting system wide outage. One customer on a newsgroup mentioned that while waiting to speak to a Sharebuilder representative, they opened up a new account with TD Ameritrade, wired money into the new account and successfully started trading.

In today’s digital economy, a two day system outage is shocking and should be unheard of especially when dealing with people’s personal finances. When designing mission critical systems, organizations typically design for 5 nines – 99.999%. This translates to a total downtime of approximately five minutes and fifteen seconds per year. 36 hours of outages and counting clearly breaches industry standards and best practices.

Hopefully, they take less of a reactive position in the future and scale their systems accordingly. The customer care department tried making amends with some of their customers who lost thousands – They were granted 5 free trades which equates to $49.95.