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MasterCard's Maestro struggles to cope with Xmas

As website wobbles too

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The MasterCard website struggled to cope with Christmas shopping demand that left it unreachable for nearly five hours in the run-up to Christmas. More seriously MasterCard's Maestro system also experienced glitches in the immediate run-up to Xmas. The extent of the problem with the debit card system remains unclear.

According to a survey by Swedish-based uptime monitoring service firm Pingdom the Mastercard site experienced more downtime than its competitors. Pingdom monitored the availability of the websites of Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club and Maestro. If a surveyed website did not respond within 30 seconds, or responded with an error, it was considered to be down. Monitoring was carried out from multiple locations in the US and Europe.

All the monitored websites showed good availability with the exception of MasterCard’s (www.mastercard.com), which has been unavailable for a total of four hours and 54 minutes between 9 November and 20 December. On several occasions the MasterCard website was unavailable during multiple short periods spread over the day.

The Maestro website belongs to MasterCard as well, but displayed no downtime during the surveyed period.

Just like bank websites, credit card websites ought to be reliable and accessible at all times because these websites are an important source of information for card holders, providing information on how to report stolen cards, for example.

Problems with other aspects of MasterCard's payment system also surfaced in the run up to Christmas. Reg reader Tony was told by Yorkshire Bank that the Maestro payment system was down on Friday morning (21 December). He discovered the issue after attempting to pay a bill by phone using a MasterCard Maestro debit card issued by Yorkshire Bank.

Our repeated attempts to speak to someone familiar with the situation at MasterCard proved frustrating. At first representatives suggested nothing was amiss before telling us late on Friday that a support line had been set up. We were referred to an internal MasterCard spokeswoman who, as it turns out, was on holiday and unbriefed about the situation when we spoke to her on Monday (Christmas Eve). She, in turn, referred us to MasterCard's European Centre of operations. Nobody there was available to speak to us there either.

So the extent of problems with the Maestro system in the immediate run-up to Christmas remain unclear.

If you experienced problems with Mastro in the week before Xmas then drop us a line. ®

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