Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Bank cites St Patrick's Day for delays to payments

By Claire McNeilly

Ulster Bank has told customers that payments failed to reach their accounts because March 17 was a non-banking day in Northern Ireland.

It was responding to angry account holders who vented their fury on Twitter after the St Patrick's Day holiday led to delays in processing wages and other payments.

Some employees claimed their salaries had not been paid into their Ulster Bank accounts, while colleagues who bank with other UK providers reported no problems.

Many Bank of Ireland account holders were also understood to have been affected by the same issues, however, as it was a non-banking day for the bank too.

An Omagh businessman who asked to remain anonymous told the Belfast Telegraph that he had not received payments from three clients amounting to £35,000.

"I'm an Ulster Bank business customer and I had three large BACS payments due in yesterday from three different banks, but they haven't appeared in my account," he said.

"I think it's a disgrace that we continue to have problems with a bank that is owned by the Government (through RBS).

"Where is that money, which should be in my account by now, sitting at moment? Who's getting paid interest on it?

"It's annoying because not having the money will have a knock-on effect when it comes to paying my bills."

The Co Tyrone designer, who also has a personal account with Ulster Bank, said he escaped unscathed on that front as no payments were due over the bank holiday.

"I'm annoyed because when I contacted the bank they told me they knew nothing about it, so I've been checking my account constantly to see if the money has arrived," he added.

"Ulster Bank's past problems with computer glitches and technical issues are well-known, but this could be the final straw for me and I may switch to another provider."

A spokesman for Ulster Bank said St Patrick's Day was a non-banking day here, meaning payments were pushed back by 24 hours.

He also said it was the responsibility of payment submitters to consider bank holiday dates, which are marked in the official BACS calender.

"March 17 is a non-banking day in Northern Ireland but is a normal banking day in Great Britain," he added.

"In Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank, along with other local banks, does not process payments on non-banking days.

"Therefore, payments received on Thursday, March 17 will be processed on March 18 and will be available in customers' accounts on March 19.

"However, many organisations have made arrangements for payments due on this date to be paid in advance.

"If any customers have issues over the bank holiday in relation to not receiving their expected payment, they should contact their payment originator in the first instance."

There are three official bank holidays in Northern Ireland - March 17, July 12 and December 28 - according to the BACS calender.

It is understood that most companies take this into account when dealing with employees' wages or other payments or transfers, although some do not.

Although the disruption experienced by customers yesterday was linked to a legitimate day off, Ulster Bank has been beset by technical problems in recent years.

Between June 2012 and 2015, a series of IT failures robbed customers of access to their own money on five separate occasions.

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