Phone issues follow banking system problems for VyStar

Members frustrated over lack of online access also can't reach call center

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – VyStar officials said Wednesday that the credit union's internet banking system is working for most customers, but some people still voiced frustrations to News4Jax that they couldn't view their accounts.

The credit union will have its call center open this week until 8 p.m. for people needing help.

But that, too, began experiencing problems Wednesday, as customers received busy signals and couldn't get through to get help.

VyStar upgraded its online platform and its mobile banking over the weekend, and customers had a tough time regaining access.

"I’ve been trying to log on to VyStar through the new website. They want us to re-enroll. I did all that. And I still can’t get to my account,” said Jamil Maddox, a VyStar member. “I had to download a new app. And it’s not working.”

This story was echoed by many others, many of them heading for their local branch locations.

It’s the same story for thousands trying to follow the directions and re-enroll in the new banking system and the new mobile platform. 

President and CEO Terry West promised that his team was pulling out all the stops to help members get their banking done, that includes coming up with a backup customer service number after the main line experienced problems Wednesday.

“The carrier we use for (our main phone number) has had a problem at their switching station, and they are unable to send us a large volume of calls, so they’re sending us less calls than we’re able to handle,” West said. “What we’ve done in the interim is put in a temporary phone number that I want to give out on the air that members can use. Until we get that fixed with the carrier, that number is 904-559-4432.”

VyStar advised its members in December to expect this changeover to a new online banking platform and a new mobile banking system.

West said they planned on tens of thousands of members trying to get access to their accounts when the new system came online Monday. But, even so the system was overwhelmed by the numbers.

“It’s not about me, this is about our members. I want them to be able to get into their accounts, do anything they want to,” West said. "But so many are trying to access them, and so many trying to hit it at one time, that’s part of the problem.”

VyStar reports more than 82,000 members have re-enrolled since Monday.

“I’ve had people say they got in once, couldn’t get back in. I’ll just say, give it a few more days or go up to the branch, if it’s an emergency,” Maddox said.

However, there are more than 500,000 credit union members at VyStar and about half of them were already enrolled, prior to the upgrade.

“I tried calling VyStar. They said keep trying. They’re getting an overload of people all rushing the website at one time,” Maddox said. “But it’s going on day two, so you’d think they’d have it under control now.”

West admitted the transition is taking its toll on members and explained the credit union researched the changeover and took what all their experts thought would be the right steps, including increasing capacity over their expectation.

“We care a lot about our members, and we want to do the best we can for them. So it’s just been bigger than any of us expected. We do think, after people have enrolled, and we’ve had over 82,000 enroll since yesterday (Monday), that this will begin to ease down some and this will become a more typical usage.

“But right now, they need to pay bills, want to go in, look at their money. Do all sorts of things. We know that. We understand. We’re trying to get to it as fast as we can.”

West said that he hopes the credit union hasn’t lost any of its half-a-million members over the snafus, and he expects everything to be running smoother as the week goes on.

“I want to apologize. We planned for this extremely well, and I know it doesn’t feel like that with extra capacity, but so much volume came in Monday and Tuesday, (and that) is what impacted some of this, and it’s working much more smoothly today,” West said.

One of the frustrations boiling up for people, like Maddox, is they can’t get to the credit union during regular hours because of their own jobs.

VyStar has extended branch hours from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., and West said they have more than 200 people in their call center working longer hours. 

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