Nearly half of the roughly 600 Florida branches NationsBank acquired from Barnett discovered they had lost access to customer information Wednesday after an orbiting communications satellite failed.
Employees at up to 300 branches could not call up customer data. They had to refer clients to automated teller machines, telephone service centers, or the more than 300 former Barnett branches in Florida that remained operational. "In most cases, we've found alternate ways to do business," said spokesman Ellison Clary.
Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank Corp., which bought Barnett Banks Inc. this year, expects to have service restored this week, said Mr. Clary. NationsBank will migrate service to a backup satellite.
Other banks use satellites to connect their branch networks, but not all use the Panamsat Corp. unit that failed Tuesday evening. For instance, First Union Corp., also of Charlotte, uses satellites to link all its branches and ATMs, but a spokesman reported no problem Wednesday.
Less disruptive was loss of power to many paging services nationwide, for which the failed satellite was also blamed. It may take several days to restore full capacity as Panamsat and paging carriers migrate to backup satellites.
Many banks and financial companies had little difficulty weathering the pager outage.
"It's a minor inconvenience," said Thomas Richlovsky, a senior vice president of Louisville, Ky.-based National Processing Inc., the nation's second-largest credit card processor. "It's not something that is in any noticeable way hurting us."
National Processing sales representatives and technical workers who use pagers were keeping in contact with their departments through other means. Any problem has been "very individualized," Mr. Richlovsky said.
Jill Arslanian, vice president of marketing and communications at Cleveland-based Key Services Corp., said the bank subsidiary's paging company "has been very good about keeping us in the loop," with frequent faxed updates on the problem.
Key Services' 8,000 employees rely on beepers while traveling or to track down others who may be in the building but away from their desks.
But beepers are not considered the first line of defense when systems are down, Ms. Arslanian said. "We start with the phone calls first." Envisioning a much worse scenario, she added, "If the phones or ATMs were down, that would be a different story. We use pagers as a crutch."
The power problem began around 6 p.m. eastern standard time Tuesday when Panamsat lost control of its Galaxy 4 satellite. The satellite affected many paging services because of its central U.S. location, over Kansas, Panamsat officials said.