Financial News

  • 8 March 2013, 10:57

RBS To Compensate Customers Hit By IT Glitch

RBS has blamed a "hardware fault" for a glitch that meant customers were unable to use their accounts online or withdraw cash for several hours.

The technical problems, which started on Wednesday evening, came less than a year after RBS, Natwest and Ulster Bank customers were hit by a major computer issue.

The meltdown left millions of people unable to access their money and cost the group £175m to put right.

In a statement, the bank apologised for the recent disruption and said its systems were fixed and running as normal.

"This problem was caused by a hardware fault and was not related to the issues we experienced last summer. It was much easier to fix, though clearly an unacceptable failure," it said.

"Any customer who was left out of pocket due to this outage should get in touch so we can put things right for them."

The banks said the problem was fixed around three hours after they admitted there was a problem - but not before hundreds took to the internet to voice their frustration.

Many said they had difficulties using cash machines or logging into online banking, while others complained their cards had been declined.

Steve Ireland, who lives in London, told Sky News he discovered the problem when he tried to pay with his card at a supermarket.

"I was out shopping after a night out with my partner to celebrate a birthday," he said. "I went into a very big chain supermarket and got to the cash desk with all my shopping, only to be told the card was declined.

"It was a really bad experience and very embarrassing. You get evil looks from the cashier when you can't pay."

Stuart Keel, from Cornwall, said he tried to use a cash machine but it was not working.

"We went to the supermarket thinking we could use our cards in there, no problem," he said.

"While we were walking around I was using my NatWest (smartphone) app and it wasn't working at all."

He said his card was then declined at the checkout.

"I thought, 'There's something not right here'," he added.

A section of NatWest's website was swamped by a string of complaints, with one customer writing: "Really upset that NatWest comms have failed yet again.

"We understand that things sometimes go wrong - but 'helpful banking' is all about helping people and communicating with them. After last year's fiasco I stuck with you, but now I'm not going to..."

Another said: "I can't get to work as card declined on train, so lost a day's wage and (you) expect me to pay to call for info!"

In June last year, millions of people were affected when a software update failed at the banks.

Customers were unable to view up-to-date balances, while payments such as direct debits for bills were not made and some wages were not received.

Stephen Hester, the chief executive of the banks' parent company, RBS Group, which is 80% state-owned, was forced to apologise for the problems at the time and £100m was put aside to compensate customers.

It is unclear whether those affected by the latest systems outage will receive compensation but it is understood the matter is under consideration on a 'case by case' basis.