Bread Financial credit card company wrestles with system outage

·6 min read
Some customers of Columbus-based Bread Financial have been unable to access their credit card accounts online and over the phone amid a planned system update.
Some customers of Columbus-based Bread Financial have been unable to access their credit card accounts online and over the phone amid a planned system update.

For at least the past week, some Bread Financial customers have been unable to access their credit card accounts online and over the phone amid a planned system update.

Formerly Alliance Data, the Columbus-based financial services company manages about 130 private-label and co-brand credit card programs for partners including the NFL, Victoria’s Secret, Ulta Beauty and Kay Jewelers.

Customers with cards for Victoria’s Secret, Ulta, IKEA, Sephora and others have taken to Twitter to complain that they have been unable to pay their bills. They have expressed concerns about late fees and decreased credit scores.

Chillicothe resident Justin Sparks, 24, said he was having trouble logging onto his account for his PlayStation rewards card from June 23 to June 30.

“I was not notified or anything about them doing an update,” Sparks wrote in a message to The Dispatch. "I looked to Twitter to figure out what was going on, and saw many other people were having the same issues."

Since Monday, Bread Financial subsidiaries Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank have provided updates on the situation through the @askcomenity Twitter account. The latest tweet was posted on Saturday.

"Due to a customer service outage, we’re waiving late fees for customers whose payment due date fell on or between June 27-July 2, if outages continue so will the late fee waiver. Inability to make a payment will not affect credit scores. You can make a payment by using EasyPay."

Columbus-based retailer Victoria’s Secret confirmed that Bread Financial would be waiving fees, and that financial services company said it would not be reporting late payments to credit reporting-agencies.

"We know that the recent outage has been frustrating for customers, and we’ve been in close contact with Bread Financial and Comenity Bank to resolve any issues of customers being impacted by the system outage," the spokesperson said.

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A spokesperson for Bread Financial also confirmed the plan to waive fees, and acknowledged customer frustrations. They also said customers are now able to make payments, check balances and service their accounts through the Automated Voice Response System.

“Bread Financial is working to address issues that have impacted our ability to provide our full suite of customer service capabilities,” the spokesperson said. “We are working to restore service as quickly as possible and apologize for any inconvenience this disruption may have caused cardholders. We will work to ensure a fair resolution for our cardholders who were impacted by this service disruption.”

However, as of Saturday morning, customers were still complaining about lack of access to their accounts, even when they call, and an inability to pay their bills through the EasyPay financing company.

Someone even created a parody Twitter account, @dontaskcomenity.

What are steps Bread Financial customers can take?

Customers can access the Automated Voice Response System by calling the number on the back of their card. However, some say they still aren’t getting through. The Bread Financial website also lists 1-855-796-9632 as a customer service number.

Some customers who have suspected fraud on their accounts have had success calling the Account Protection Team at 1-800-888-1726 to cancel the card.

Customers may still use their cards, according to a tweet by Comenity. However, some have complained that their cards are being declined.

If a payment was scheduled prior to the system maintenance, it will still be processed, according to a tweet by Comenity. However, there could be a delay in posting.

Bread Financial said fees incurred on June 27 or 28 will be waived automatically; customers do not need to take any additional steps to request this action.

What else does Bread Financial do?

In addition to offering credit cards, Bread financial provides lending products such as installment lending and buy now, pay later to more than 600 companies. It has approximately 35 million active accounts.

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Frustration among Ohio customers

Columbus resident Allison Thomas said she was notified by finance company Credit Karma on Monday of a balance increase of over $500 on her IKEA credit card, which also can be used for out-of-store purchases. She didn’t remember that she’d used the card for a car rental — it didn’t immediately show up — so she suspected it was a fraudulent charge.

Though she was eventually able to reach the fraud department to close the card, she wasn’t able to clarify the charge until Thursday, when she finally reached a Comenity customer service representative on the phone.

However, she is still unable to access her online account.

“I feel like I am a very reasonable consumer,” said Thomas, 50, who lives on the Northwest Side.  “Brief outages, I can completely understand, but the length of this outage is completely unacceptable, and has absolutely caused me to lose complete trust in Comenity and with Bread Financial. I will absolutely not do business with them moving forward.”

Hilary Powers, who lived in Southwest Columbus until recently, believes she has an actual fraud case. Last week, she was notified by Credit Karma that someone opened a Boscov's department store card with a $500 limit in her name.

Powers, 45, who now lives in Tampa, Florida, said she has tried calling Comenity each day since.

"I've never set foot in a Boscov's," she wrote in a message to the Dispatch. "This experience has taken about three hours, collectively, of my time. I'm also concerned about the security of my information, since I can't close an account that's clearly not mine."

Justin Sparks expressed frustration with Comenity's communication on Twitter.

"When I went to Twitter, all I saw was the same response from Comenity over and over," he said. "It was like a robot that was doing copy and paste. I found it ridiculous that they hadn’t been more open and said something beforehand.”

Sparks said he was finally able to use the automated system to pay the balance on his Playstation rewards card on Thursday.

“Still, I haven’t received any confirmation, but I do have a transaction number the automated system gave me,” Sparks said. “It’s very unfortunate and extremely frustrating when cardholders barely know what’s going on.”

ethompson@dispatch.com

@miss_ethompson

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Bread Financial Comenity Bank waives credit card fees system outage