Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Bank technical issues: RBS 'sorry' as online banking and payment systems go down

Banking group apologises and promises to compensate customers affected

By John Mulgrew

Ulster Bank customers were unable to access their online systems or use banks cards on Monday evening - during the busiest internet shopping day of the year.

The technology meltdown has left customers of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group, which includes NatWest and Ulster Bank, without the use of their debit or credit cards. It has also affected the banks' websites and smartphone apps.

An RBS Group spokeswoman said some customers were starting to access their money again.

"We are very sorry for the system issues that affected our customers this evening," she said.

"Our customers are reporting that services are coming back on line. We will confirm when all systems have returned to normal service.

"If customers have been left out of pocket as a result of these system problems, we will put this right."

The spokeswoman did not reveal what caused the glitch, but said the company would compensate customers for it.

"If any customer is unable to resolve an issue caused by the disruption, they should get in touch with our call centres or come into a branch in the morning where our staff will be ready to help," she said.

The latest customer difficulties come around 18 months after widespread computer problems left hundreds of thousands of people without access to their money.

That IT debacle cost the bank tens of millions of pounds.

One bank customer told the Belfast Telegraph she was left embarrassed without any cash in a busy south Belfast restaurant - unable to pay the bill. 

"I went out for a few drinks and food on a night out, went up to pay and get cash back - but my card was rejected," she said.

"My card was declined twice, in front of a busy bar, so it was very embarrassing."

"I couldn't access online or take out money so had to borrow it off a friend. I don't know what I will do now as I have no cash".

The outage comes on the busiest online shopping day - termed Cyber Monday - typically when the highest amount of online transactions are expected so shoppers can meet pre-Christmas delivery deadlines.

Among those tweeting was BBC technology journalist Rory Cellan-Jones.

"Customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank reporting that online banking service is down, chip and pin system also failed"

One angry customer said she had been left unable to pay for her Christmas shopping.

"Another big let down from Ulster bank! Out Christmas shopping can't use my cards and can't take any money out! Their system is down again!"

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Victims campaigner Ann Travers was yet another customer caught up in the banking difficulties.

Last year the part-state owned financier revealed it had set aside a provision of £82m to compensate the some 750,000 customers caught up in the failure.

In the wake of the glitch, the bank's boss, Jim Brown, defended a multi-million pound compensation package during the massive IT outage which affected thousands of customers.

"It's just one of the measures and I do think it does recognise the inconvenience," he said.

Many of the bank's customers only received what the company described as a £20 "incident" credit - handed out to those who were forced to use their branches during the outage.

Were you affected by this fault? Let us know in the comments below.

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