What to Do If Your Bank App Goes Down In the Middle of a Shopping Spree

Thursday nights are late-night shopping nights in Melbourne’s CBD, and last night, I decided to stock up on some basics for the first time in months.

I’ve never been one for clothes shopping. I find the stores to be stressful; the lighting is always bright and unflattering, the dressing room mirrors somehow always make you look worse than you thought you looked and other shoppers always seem to be anxious and frazzled. Not to mention that when you’ve got your mind set on something and you go in-store to search for it, it seems to conveniently not exist.

But this time, I braved the shops, because Melbourne is constantly cold and all my favourite knits are getting holey.

So I’m in the middle of Zara and things seem to be going well. For once, it’s not outrageously chaotic and I’ve actually found multiple things that I like. My friend has come to meet me for an after-work drink and she’s impressed by my speedy and efficient shop.

But I peaked too early. Why does the universe always have to cut in with a “not so fast” attitude? Just let me live! As I go to pay, I realise my Commbank app isn’t loading. I assume it’s because there’s bad reception, but as soon as the shop assistant asks me if I’m with the Commonwealth Bank, my heart drops.

“There’s been a national outage,” she tells me, “I’m sorry.”

It wasn’t just Commbank that went down. ANZ and Westpac were also affected, with users not being able to log in to their accounts, therefore unable to transfer money across or take money out.

In these moments, it always hits me how much we’ve come to rely on technology for our daily life. I had about $60 of cash in my pocket, but what is that going to get me? What if my house was more than a $60 cab ride home and I was by myself? I mean sure, you could always have backup cash on you, but the concept of always living with a Plan B not only seems unrealistic, but also kind of boring.

Luckily for me, I was with one of my best friends and she swooped in to save me from embarrassment, telling me I could just transfer her some cash when the apps were back up and running.

It’s strange that we exist in a world where technology controls so much of our life, yet only a select few truly understand the inner workings of technology, therefore making it pretty unreliable at the best of times. Despite knowing that we’re screwed if it stops working, we use it to navigate ourselves, for transport, to pay for things, to check the time, for news updates and to communicate with each other.

In reflecting on this, it’s totally understandable to have a feeling of imminent dread the moment you realise you’re without technology, whether that means you’ve lost your phone, there’s an internet outage or even if just one crucial app stops working for a few hours.

In the exact instance of your bank app going down on you, there are a few things you can do.

What to do if your bank app crashes

Call a friend, partner or family member to transfer the money you need to make the purchase, explaining the situation and assuring them that you’ll pay them back once the outage is fixed.

You can put the items or products on hold, explain the situation to the cashier and go back the next day, when the problem is hopefully fixed.

Take it as a sign that you don’t need whatever you’re buying and do your best to walk away.

If you’re in the middle of a dinner booking, this can be tricky. Hopefully you’re with close friends or family that won’t mind paying your share until your app is back working, however, you might find that you’re with someone new or at a business meeting.

If no one is answering your calls or able to transfer money into your account, I’ve found that the best practice is to just be honest. At the end of the day, we all have embarrassing moments like these and most people are way more understanding than you’d think.


Although banks are never able to give you a timeline on when your bank app will be back, the good news is that it never seems to take longer than 24 hours, with most people being able to log into their accounts today.

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