Belfast Telegraph

Everything is back to normal says Ulster Bank... but some customers disagree

By Claire McNeilly

Ulster Bank said it is “business as usual” for most of its customers after havoc caused by computer meltdown two months ago.

But a Belfast Telegraph survey of some customers caught up in the chaos has revealed some are still suffering disruption.

Problems began when an IT failure hit the bank’s parent company, RBS Group, on June 19, affecting millions of Ulster Bank, RBS and NatWest account holders across the UK and Ireland.

Many lost out financially as money to pay bills was not credited to their accounts on time, leading to penalties.

Yesterday, the bank posted a note on its website saying that customer accounts are now up to date and operating as normal.

“All of our systems are running as normal and for the majority of customers it is now business as usual,” it read.

“There will be reconciliations to some customer accounts as final outstanding transactions are processed.”

Anger has built as customers wait to hear the details of a compensation package which has been promised in recent weeks.

When the Belfast Telegraph contacted people affected by the financial turmoil at the outset, some were still experiencing difficulties.

Belfast plumber Alan Mearns (32) (below, with son Charlie) and partner Glenda had found themselves with no money during a holiday in Spain in June.

He said they were left high and dry after they couldn’t withdraw any cash, and they ended up borrowing from people who had been on the plane with them.

“We’re still having problems with our account,” he said.

“£500 has gone missing, but the bank can’t tell us where it went or who took it and there’s no reference number or anything. Their investigation team looked into it and they couldn’t tell us why that amount was deducted.”

He added: “We want to hear the details of the compensation package because £500 is the very least that we’re down.”

Martin Burns (21), a sales adviser from Belfast, who had no heating or electricity for four days during the height of the crisis, said he was still having issues.

“I’m having problems with direct debits,” he said.

“I tried to withdraw £50 that I knew was in my account but couldn’t get anything from the cash machine because that had put £50 of charges on my account. I’ve also had to take a lot of unpaid leave to try and sort out my account, which I’m not very happy about either.”

IT worker Philip Maguire (48) said it took over two weeks for his account problems to be resolved.

“My salary didn’t go into the bank and then I had all of my direct debits going out, so that was really stressful,” he said.

He said he won’t be asking the Ulster Bank for compensation.

“I was fired up to the point that I was going to leave them but I just can’t be bothered,” he said.

“I’m not out of pocket so I’m happy enough and I’m resigned to staying with them.”

Single parent Tracy McKerr, from Glengormley, in her 30s, got no wages or tax credits for three weeks as a result of the IT glitch.

“There were also a number of transactions that were taken out of my account twice,” she said.

“I haven’t received any compensation yet and I don’t think the bank has been very good at telling us how to go about it.

“I’m not really satisfied with the customer service at all and if I didn’t have an overdraft with them I would definitely change to another bank.”

Michelle Byrne (24), from Newtownabbey, said that her bank account appeared back to normal.

“Although I had direct debits that were late I didn’t get any charges,” she said. “I’m quite annoyed that they haven’t yet come out and given any details about the compensation package.

“I’m still thinking of leaving.”

Factfile

If you have lost out financially because of the Ulster Bank systems crash:

  • Make a complaint. Get in touch with your bank and tell them what happened to you, what you want them to do to help put things right, and what losses you want them to cover.
  • Give them a clear list of what you’re claiming — with the key facts and figures. Be brief and to the point.
  • RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers can contact their bank online at www.rbs.co.uk/personal/help-and-support.ashx or via the Financial Ombudsman.

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