UniRush's transition to a new processor caused major service interruptions for users of its popular RushCard prepaid products.
The transition, which took place Oct. 11, left many of the company’s customers without access to account information or their funds, making it difficult for them to complete payments, according to reports from Buzzfeed and CNNMoney. In the interim, service has been re-established to many customers, though a company spokesperson could not comment precisely on how many continue to be affected. RushCard would not publicly name the card processors involved in the transition.
“At this time, our system is up and running and we are processing deposits and transactions,” RushCard chief executive and chairman Rick Savard said in an emailed statement. “A small number of accounts are still in an inactive state.”
The incident had a major impact on many customers’ finances given their reliance on prepaid cards in lieu of a traditional bank account. In general, underbanked consumers represent the largest group to use prepaid cards, according to a June study from Pew Charitable Trusts. RushCard customers have taken to social media to complain about being unable to pay their rent, handle utilities bills or receive direct payroll deposits during the transition period.
The company noted in posts on social media that customers’ funds and personal information remained secure through the incident. Heavier-than-usual traffic to the company’s website caused it to go down at one point, but it was operational as of Oct. 14.
In the wake of the outage, the company has undergone a major, multi-channel effort to contact its audience. The company set up command centers in New York and Cincinnati to handle outreach to affected customers.
UniRush has also relied heavily on Facebook and Twitter, in addition to emails and phone calls, because many RushCard customers are active on social media.
Company co-founder and hip-hop music mogul Russell Simmons has also opened up his Twitter account to direct messages, encouraging customers to provide him with their name, phone number and address to expedite assistance. A company spokesperson noted that Simmons himself has handled calls to customers affected by the technical problems.
As compensation to RushCard customers, the company has established a fee-free holiday period from Nov. 1 to Feb. 29. The fee-free period will apply to new and old customers – during this time, customers will not incur any fees from the company’s fee schedule when they use their cards. Out-of-network ATM fees and card-to-card transfer fees are among those being waived.
Still, many customers remain unhappy with the company’s response despite the announcement of the fee-free holiday.
“No one cares about the fee free holiday; we want access to our money and ability to transfer money over for those who have more than one card,” one person commented on the company’s Facebook page.
“My kid needs food to eat and all you can offer us are no fees for 4 months?” another person commented.
The company said that it will be making additional announcements in the near future to address the service outage.
“We are not done yet,” Savard said. “You will hear more from us in the coming days about how we will continue to make good on our customers’ trust.”
RushCard is part of Simmons’ Rush Communications conglomerate. Simmons has been a longstanding figure in the prepaid industry. RushCard initially drew ire for carrying some of the highest fees in the industry, but it has steadily lowered fees in recent years.