Banks to stay open longer again to deal with backlog of meltdown
RBS Group is unable to say when a backlog of problems arising from a technical meltdown that hit its banks will be cleared, as branches prepared to extend their opening hours for a fifth day today.
NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank opened hundreds of branches on a Sunday for the first time ever yesterday, to try to reassure customers caught in the queue of financial transactions delayed by last week’s IT fiasco.
Trading hours for the RBS Group’s banks were also being extended to 8am-7pm today, as complaints about the backlog continued. About 7,000 staff were on duty at 1,200 branches across the UK yesterday, including 137 in Scotland.
The banking group last night insisted the problem was no longer a technical one despite earlier reports of ongoing issues.
“The underlying issue was resolved on Friday and what we are facing now is a backlog,” a spokeswoman for RBS said. “There is no definitive date when that will be cleared. The problem now is absolutely the backlog.”
The software problem began on Tuesday night, and while RBS says it has now been fixed, customers were still experiencing problems yesterday.
Bank bosses vowed to cover costs and any problems customers might have as the work continued to clear the queue.
RBS Group said most account balances would be “largely” back to normal by today.
Susan Allen, the group’s director of customer services, said: “We will automatically waive any overdraft fees or charges on current accounts. This will be processed over the next few days. We will work directly with credit agencies to ensure no-one has their credit score affected.
“For all other issues, customers have our commitment that they will not be out of pocket from this issue. We will publish further details on how we will ensure this later in the week.”
The initial problem reportedly arose following an attempt to install a software update on RBS’s payment processing system, which was then corrupted. The fault meant payments went awry, wages appeared to go missing, and holiday and house purchases were disrupted. When account balances were not updated properly overnight, credit and debit payments failed to show up.
The issues affected customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank, which are all part of RBS Group.
Double the usual number of employees were manning call centres to tackle the problems, said Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS Group.
In a statement on Saturday, Mr Hester issued a public apology for the chaos and conceded that the bank had let down its customers.
He attempted to reassure customers following mounting fears that thousands of people could be hit with penalty charges if their regular payments – including those for mortgages – were affected.
He said: “I am very sorry for the difficulties people are experiencing. Right now my top priority, and the priority of the entire RBS Group, is to fix these problems and put things right for our customers.
“This is taking time, but I want to reassure people that we are working around the clock to resolve these problems as quickly as we are able.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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