Natwest’s glitch leaves millions without account access
Today Natwest bank customers continued to face frustration in the aftermath of the technical glitch which has affected a large proportion of its 7.5 million personal banking customers.
The problem with computer software began on Tuesday night, making today the sixth day of issues involving incorrect statements and payments going in and out of accounts. The problems have extended to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Ulster Bank customers, which along with Natwest are part of RBS Group. Ulster Bank said around 100,000 of its customers have experienced difficulties.
In efforts to clear the backlog of payments and bring reassurance to customers, Natwest has opened for the first time on a Sunday 1,200 branches across the country, although angry messages continue to be posted across social media sites from customers who have found themselves without access to cash or unable to pay their bills. Trading hours will also be extended to 8am–7pm on Monday, although this has proved to be of little comfort to individuals fretting over penalty charges for missed bill payments, or who have been unable to access their money to buy food and other essentials.
Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS, made a public apology on Saturday, admitting that the bank had let down its customers.
“I am very sorry for the difficulties people are experiencing. Our customers rely on us day in and day out to get things right, and on this occasion we have let them down. This should not have happened. Right now, 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.”
Although RBS says the issues have been resolved, it acknowledged that some account balances may still be showing incorrect amounts and that some online services remained unavailable.
Rachel Reeves, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said it was “absolutely imperative that RBS gets a grip on this situation”, referring to the necessity of assisting customers who have found themselves without their monthly pay. She said: “It’s causing real hardship at the moment and to say we’ll put it all right in the end isn’t really good enough.”
While staff continue to work through the build-up of transactions, it calls into question our reliance on technology, and the huge disruption caused when something goes wrong.