Glitches from the Y2K computer bug began cropping up in some financial industry computer software programs this week.
A local bank and two national credit-card companies had unforeseen problems with software that customers or vendors hadn't upgraded or checked for compliance. While small, the glitches show that despite billions of dollars spent on fixing the computer date bug, bits of it remain in the vast network of interrelated software systems.
CyberCash Inc., a Reston-based company that makes electronic transaction-processing software, said it received a flood of calls late this week from merchants who use CyberCash's program, but didn't upgrade it for Y2K compliance. The result is that consumers may get duplicate purchases on their credit cards.
But officials at Visa International and MasterCard International Inc. said yesterday that the vast majority of transactions are going through without problems. About 100,000 merchants use the CyberCash software and were offered free upgrades last year.
"It's likely very few consumers will even notice, but we are watching it very closely," MasterCard spokeswoman Sharon Gamsin said.
Locally, Chevy Chase Bank's online customers hit snags in using the Windows versions of Quicken 99 and Quicken 2000. Bank officials said they spent two years doing extensive Y2K testing of Quicken systems--including tests using Quicken 98--and found no problems. They did not run tests using Quicken 99 or Quicken 2000, they said, because those versions of the software were not available at the time Chevy Chase was doing its tests.
"There really was no logical reason to test it [with newer versions]," said Leslie Nicholson, executive vice president and general counsel of Chevy Chase. "We weren't testing whether their programs worked or not. That was their responsibility."
Intuit Inc., which makes Quicken, said it told financial institutions that use its programs to update an older coding used to import and export data from banks. But Chevy Chase said it was never warned. Intuit provided a copy of the letter it sent to Chevy Chase dated Oct. 6, 1999--a date most Y2K experts say would have been very late to fix--but bank officials said they didn't receive it.
The bank and Intuit Inc., the maker of Quicken, are blaming each other for the problems.
"We tested our online banking system for 2000 and it worked fine," said Robert Spicer, chief information officer at Chevy Chase. "We weren't aware of the problem until one of our customers called."
The Y2K bug typically stems from a programming practice of using only two digits to represent the year. That means "00" might be misread as 1900.
Officials said they spent the past two years testing their systems for potential Y2K problems. They tested their home banking system with Quicken 98 for Windows, the most recent copy of the software they said was available at the time of the tests, and found no problems. However, they did not retest the system with newer versions of Quicken.
Chevy Chase said it received about 10 calls in the last month from online customers about the Quicken software glitch. The bank has 20,000 online customers. Intuit officials said they received complaints from five other financial institutions about the program, but refused to name them.
"We knew things would be 99.9 percent okay, but that there would be some hiccups," said Holly Anderson, a spokeswoman for Intuit, based in Mountain View, Calif. "It's one of those little bumps everybody knew would happen."
Michael Seablom of the District said he discovered the glitch a few nights ago as he downloaded his transactions into Quicken 99. When Seablom called the Chevy Chase customer help line, he was greeted by a cheerful recorded voice: "Thank you for calling Chevy Chase bank. We're okay on Y2K."
"The ATM [transactions] I had starting Jan. 1 were at the top of the page and they said 1900 at the end," said Seablom, a meteorologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. "I just laughed. It wasn't one of those catastrophic problems of gloom and doom that we all had expected, but it was a nuisance."
Chevy Chase said it will put software on its World Wide Web site next week that users can download to fix the date.