Last Wednesday, millions of customers who bank at NatWest, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank were unable to access their money, due to a computer glitch that meant their accounts were not updated with payments that should have gone in. Many people reported that their wages hadn’t cleared, others said direct debits had failed and for most balances were displayed incorrectly. Some people told their banks that their mortgage payments had failed whilst others failed to close deals on mortgages as statements did not show the full and correct balance. The worst affected customers have been those of NatWest and their bank has pledged to refund all charges incurred by missed payments, calling the missing time caused by the computer problem ‘unacceptable’. All the banks are now saying the problem has been fixed and customers should be able to see proper balances, with banks staying open late and on Sunday to work through the backlog. But if you have been affected by the glitch, what rights do you have against your bank?
What if I have a direct debit or standing order returned because of the problem?
Both NatWest and RBS has promised to reimburse all customers for any charges you might incur as a result of a debit or order not being paid. This includes charges from third parties, so if you get a late payment charge from your credit card company or mortgage provider, they’ll still pay the charges for you.
Will it affect my credit report?
If you miss a payment it can have an adverse effect on your credit profile, but as this was not your fault you can put in for a notice of correction that any prospective new lender has to read before deciding to lend to you. In fact, late payments are not usually registered until 7 – 10 days later so you might be ok but the onus is on you to make sure your credit report is unaffected. In the meantime, NatWest says it is working with credit reference agencies to prevent any credit ratings damage as a result of the glitch.
I need to pay bills, what can I do?
Most people are aware of the banking fiasco and will know who your bank is if you have been making regular payments so give them a call and ask them either to rearrange the direct debit or if you can make a debit card payment, when the glitch is sorted out.
My wages haven’t gone into my account, what can I do?
If your wages are not showing in your account, ask your employer for help, they may be able to arrange a small payment to tide you over. Ask your bank if it will consider a temporary overdraft to be extended whilst the bank sorts out the computer problem. As NatWest have stated that no customer will be out of pocket as a result of the problems, they should be more than helpful to you.
What about compensation?
NatWest has stated that no customers will be left out of pocket as a result of the technical problems, and will reimburse customers for any charges incurred for missed payments. However, there is unlikely to be any ‘across the board’ compensation, but if you feel you have a genuine claim and the banking fiasco has left you genuinely out of pocket or seriously inconvenienced, you should make a formal complaint to the bank explaining why. Write to them explaining what happened and why you expect compensation. You have to give your bank eight weeks to solve your problem to your satisfaction, if they do not you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service or call on 0800 023 4567.