2011: best tech blunders

From fair-weather banks to bodgy batteries and airline errors, we've collected the best tech fails of 2011.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor on

From fair-weather banks to bodgy batteries and airline errors, we've collected the best tech fails of 2011.


(Credit: /doh image by Hobvias Sudoneighm, CC2.0)

Westpac-ed in

In September, Westpac showed us what a difference an air conditioner can make after its phone banking, online banking, EFTPOS and ATM network crashed following a cooling problem in one of its datacentres. The crash even drove major festival ticket vendor Moshtix to suspend sales for the Splendour in the Grass festival, as Westpac customers couldn't buy tickets.

The fault was eventually repaired, but not before it was revealed that the bank had decided not to switch to disaster-recovery facilities in an attempt to repair the system quicker.

All charged up

The iPhone 4S had tech enthusiasts and Apple fanboys buzzing when it was announced by new CEO Tim Cook, but the dream quickly turned into a nightmare for some when the phone was released with less-than-stellar battery performance.

Apple later blamed iOS 5 — the new piece of software that shipped with the device — for the issue, and has been attempting to fix it since.

Down, down; market is down

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is a beacon in the local finance community. A beacon that was abruptly shrouded in tech fail not once, but twice, this year.

The first crash came in February, when the ASX's notification system stopped confirming trades correctly. The second came in October, and was eventually traced back to a configuration issue in the ASX Trade platform.

RIMmed out

Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry and its respective services, was hit by a massive outage on 10 October, and, over the subsequent three days, spread across the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The company offered US$100 worth of premium apps to its customers as an apology, but that wasn't enough to stop the inevitable class-action suit from angry users.

Soggy CUA

The Queensland floods that destroyed much of the Lockyer Valley before invading Brisbane in January saw infrastructure go down left, right and centre, but the one asset that Credit Union Australia customers never expected to go down was their internet-banking facilities.

Customers expressed their outrage as the switch was flicked off in CUA's Queensland offices. Services were restored, but customers were still fuming.


Turns out that even governments can get bill shock, but who wouldn't faint when they saw the bill for over-budget IT projects in their state had run up to $1.4 billion? So, why did it cost so much? Find out here.

Tiny device, big problem

Apple makes hot products, but, in this instance, the problem was a bit too literal for Cupertino to handle. Any iPod Nano manufactured between September 2005 and December 2006 began to overheat, and posed a safety risk. Sadly, users weren't lucky enough to be upgraded to a shiny, new iPod Nano; they just got a new unit of the old model.

When free isn't free

The Commonwealth Bank was hit by a database issue that saw its ATM network pushed into a state where customers could withdraw funds without actually having the money in their account. Free money! Until the bank fixed the issue, and then started chasing customers who had overdrawn on their accounts. Whoops.

Qantas' kiosk crashlanding

Qantas has always wrestled with its technology, and, just as it looked to be getting it right, an external IT provider crashes, pushing its prized Next Generation Check In kiosks offline for the morning. Customers were forced to check in manually. The humanity!

CityRail IT stops trains in their tracks

Trains ground to a halt in New South Wales in April, when a software issue caused by a dodgy network switch threw the network into disarray, leaving thousands stranded. Since it was NSW CityRail, however, passengers were unaware that there were any issues causing the trains ground to a halt; it's par for the course.

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