JPMorgan Chase & Co., whose website failed today for the second time this week, will refund late fees and help fix other problems for 16.6 million online customers unable to access their accounts.

"We will work with customers on any issues that occurred, including late fees," Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the New York- based bank, said in an e-mail. The site went down late Sept. 13 and service was restored around 1 a.m. New York time today. The system failed again several hours later.

The problem is a software glitch and customers' accounts aren't at risk, Christine Holevas, a company spokeswoman, said in an interview. Customers trying to use the site see an error message that reads, "Our website is temporarily unavailable. We're working quickly to restore access."

The bank's primary regulator in Washington was on alert when the service failed the first time.

"We monitored this situation very closely," said Bob Garsson, a spokesman for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, declining to elaborate.

JPMorgan's active online customers have increased by an average annual rate of 42 percent since 2006, according to a presentation to investors by Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon yesterday. More than 3.7 million households use JPMorgan's online website to pay their bills.

Visit a Branch
"Online customers should contact Chase telephone banking at 800-935-9935 or visit a branch to correct late fees that were incurred during the outage," Holevas said in an e-mail. JPMorgan will also refund late fees charged by other institutions, she said.
The length of the outage raises operational risk and internal control issues for the bank, which was the only major Wall Street firm to make it through the financial crisis without posting quarterly losses, said Christopher Whalen, a former analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and co-founder of Institutional Risk Analytics in Torrance, California.

"These systems are big and complex, but they should have redundancy to take the 'A' system offline if need be for hours at least," Whalen said.

Dimon apologized for the inconvenience during his presentation at Barclays Capital yesterday, saying, "I know our system is down today. I apologize for that."