Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Over a month after Ulster Bank meltdown and still no payout deal for bank’s customers

Storm clouds: Ulster Bank
Storm clouds: Ulster Bank

Ulster Bank has yet to reveal details of its compensation scheme — over one month after a computer meltdown brought misery to its customers.

Hundreds of thousands of people within the RBS group were temporarily unable to access their bank accounts after a massive technical failure last month.

Head of retail banking Stephen Cruise had previously said that a remediation plan would be made public last week, but that hasn’t happened.

Although the system errors have been rectified and most of the backlog has been cleared, some customers left out of pocket are unsure of what to do.

The Financial Ombudsman said it has been bombarded with questions following the unprecedented disruption to services that affected 600,000 people in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

It has now released a fact sheet listing the types of loss and expenses for which claims can be considered, including extra bank charges, loss of trade and legal bills.

The ombudsman's office said customers' claims could also be considered for indirect losses and expenses, such as losing interest from savings due to a late payment, or having to take time off work to deal with bank problems.

The Financial Ombudsman has official powers to sort out disputes between banks and consumers and holds the authority to order a bank to compensate customers in certain circumstances.

The problem at RBS — affecting RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers — followed a failed software update on June 19.

Ulster Bank account holders here were among the worst affected. There were queues outside branches for weeks after the issue had been resolved in other parts of the UK.

David Cresswell from the Financial Ombudsman Service said that people must realise they are going to have to claim themselves.

“There are some things that the bank might be able to do automatically, where the bank itself has applied charges to your account, but there's so much other stuff — the way in which it impacted on our real life — that unless you make some notes and write it down and claim, no-one else is going to know about it,” he said.

The checklist also advises customers that they can consider submitting a compensation claim for losses that are not financial, including stress or inconvenience.

A spokesman for Ulster Bank on Monday night said further information about compensation will be provided to customers as soon as possible.

“We said that we would shortly be announcing details on how we address out-of-pocket expenses and recognition of inconvenience caused, and we continue to discuss the details of these with our regulators,” he said.

Factfile

  • Get in touch with your bank and tell them what happened to you because of the computer problems; what you want them to do to help put things right for you; what losses you want them to cover.
  • It will help you and your bank if you can give them a clear list of what you’re claiming — with the key facts and figures. Try to keep everything short and to the point.

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