Britain's banking sector suffered yet another blow to its reputation last night as more than a million customers of Nationwide and Royal Bank of Scotland became vict ims of a fresh wave of technical foul-ups.
Nationwide admitted that more than 700,000 of its four million customers who used cards on 24 July were charged again for their purchases the next day. As many as 50,000 of them went into the red as a result.
It also emerged that Royal Bank of Scotland's online and debit card customers were facing a fresh round of IT misery although the state-owned bank refused to put a number on how many. The RBS website boasts of its "simple, secure, online service" but a one-line statement admitted it was "experiencing difficulties" and said it was "working hard" to resolve them.
The last time RBS experienced technical difficulties, customers across the UK were locked out of their accounts. A small number in Northern Ireland were still facing difficulties a month after the problems emerged and Stephen Hester, chief executive, was forced to forego a £2m bonus as a result.
The glitch is particularly embarrassing for Nationwide as earlier this month it launched an advertising campaign following similarly large-scale computer difficulties at RBS-owned NatWest urging customers to open accounts with it.
Yesterday's fresh wave of banking misery follows Tuesday's problems at HSBC, which were caused by an Phil ippines call-centre that was effectively out of service for 45 minutes. Nationwide, owned by its savers and borrowers blamed an "inputting" error by an operative at its Swindon HQ for its problems.
It said the phantom transactions were removed from customers' accounts overnight.
Richard Lloyd of consumer body Which? said: "This again raises wider questions about how robust banks' systems and safeguards are as consumers bear the brunt of yet another banking glitch."