Congestion charging online payments fail during hand-over

IBM suffered major setbacks in the nation’s capital last week after it botched a systems switchover and was taken to court by a local council over a data management matter. On Monday 2nd November IBM was set to take control of the Congestion Charging system from previous operators Capita. However, whilst the transfer of the payment system was in process, a catastrophic crash occurred. This prevented customers from making payments via the online system for 9 hours, causing considerable frustration for those affected.

IBM has called the lengthy breakdown an ‘interruption’ which it says was caused by a major upgrade to the payment system which occurred in unison with the switch-over. Customers who could not make the Congestion Charge payments online were forced to use either the mobile payment service or to make their payments at one of the many retail outlets in and around London.

Transport for London was forced to apologise on behalf of IBM and assured its customers that no one would be improperly penalised as a result of the recent crash. Sources inside TfL claimed that some customers could be issued with incorrect penalty notices. It was also claimed that IBM had not undertaken the necessary planning in order to ensure a smooth changeover, though these allegations have yet to be substantiated.

The downtime further detracted from the reputation of the IT giant after Southwark Council began the process of claiming 700,000 in damages from IBM just three days earlier. The allegations levelled at IBM include claims that they failed to provide the council with a satisfactory Master Data Management system. It was also alleged that IBM failed to act on the findings of a review which identified the key areas of failure within the MDM system.

In response to the lawsuit, IBM stated that it regards the allegations as founded on false evidence and that it will be refuting any limitations to its services during the ensuing legal proceedings. Whether these events will tarnish the reputation of a trusted brand within the capital remains to be seen, but IBM has certainly had its data management skills brought under the glare of the media spotlight.

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