Laser-like accuracy

Word reaches me this morning of yet another incident of Bank Of Ireland double-dipping laser card transactions on or around a Bank Holiday.

BOI will, doubtless, claim that this is a once off and hasn’t happened before. That’s what they said the last time (when it had actually happened before). Furthermore, I hope that BOI are more certain this time as to the root cause (last time out it was variously “retailer error” or “a software upgrade glitch”).

And hopefully their process for catching “shadow transactions” which lead to the double-dipping will kick into play and actually refund the customers affected  (which if this glitch is on the scale of their 2009 one could be up to 200,000 card holders).

For reference the relevant blog posts are:

The issue also featured over on

My €0.02: This issue appears to manifest itself around Bank Holidays. This suggests a batch load process or some human triggered action doesn’t work correctly when there is a Bank Holiday. Having a process to detect the double-dipped transactions is not a fix, as if it doesn’t work (as seems might be the case here) then the incorrect data gets through.

BOI might want to pay attention to Ferguson v British Gas, which while a UK case, could be arguable precedent for the view that Irish Courts won’t care how complex your IT systems are if a customer is impacted through a failure of your systems to process information correctly.

BOI need to identify the precipitating root cause of this problem, based on the data they have available… I’d start with looking at the dates of incidents (BOI should have more data than newspaper headlines to go on) and seeking to confirm or disprove the ‘Bank Holiday hypothesis’.

Relying on a ‘scrap and rework’ kludge that might itself fail is not a sustainable approach to ensuring information quality or quality of customer service.

2 thoughts on “Laser-like accuracy”

  1. Interesting, the bank-holiday timing.

    Years ago, I knew someone who had familiarity with one of the Irish banks’ ATM backend systems; according to this person, on a bank holiday, it was commonplace for the (multiple) redundant backend servers to go down.

    In the case of the ATM system, this was relatively harmless, as all withdrawals could be honoured and reconciled later from logs, but perhaps the laser card transaction reconciliation system isn’t so resilient in its deduping algorithm…

    1. Thanks for the input. It aligns with my theory (and it is just a theory) that the processing routines are defined for normal weeks but Bank Holidays throw that out of whack.

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