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Barnett deposits don't compute

Besides speaking in front of a crowd, money is at the top of the list of things that can really stress people out.

So you can imagine how some customers of Barnett Banks Inc. felt Friday when they discovered that the bank _ for the second time in six months _ had failed to credit their deposits to their accounts.

Because of a computer glitch, Barnett didn't record about 450,000 transactions that customers completed Thursday in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding counties. When some folks tried to withdraw money Friday morning, they got a rude surprise.

Barnett spent Friday fixing the glitch, and a spokesman said all the deposits should have been recorded by late afternoon.

The problem didn't affect funds deposited before Thursday. That money was available as normal.

Spokesman Bob Stickler said no checks should have bounced because of the glitch. That's because the computer also failed to record debits such as checks and automatic withdrawals.

But if customers did have problems of that sort, the bank will do what it can to help them.

"I think that we have a record of good customer service and reliability," Stickler said.

Maybe, but this isn't the first time that Barnett has had to contend with ghosts in its machines.

Earlier this year, a computer crash prevented the bank from recording deposits. In response, some Barnett branches temporarily limited withdrawals to $300.

And three years ago, a computer bug blocked customers across the state from checking their balances or opening accounts.

Stephen Brobeck, executive director of Consumer Federation of America in Washington, D.C., fired off a few words about the misfirings: "Technology breaks down, but a bank should be operated so that there's a minimum of consumer inconvenience."