RBS/NatWest meltdown: some customers may have to wait until Saturday for their cash

Some 600,0000 payments have been delayed many of which could be crucial

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An estimated 600,000 payments to customers of RBS, NatWest, Ulster Bank and Coutts have been delayed after the banking group was hit with another embarrassing computer meltdown today.

It was hit with technical problems involving its “overnight process”, the group said, which left customers complaining this morning of “missing” payments.

Those who have been left unable to make routine payments, such as rent, mortgage or utility bills, have been told to contact their branch to avoid incurring costs.

The computer cock-up had simply meant the payment had been delayed, the bank said, although that was of little comfort to hard-up customers hit when their essential tax credits or disability living allowance failed to arrive.

Many concerned customers turned to Twitter to complain. Joanna Lawson of Preston said: "My monthly Asda delivery has been cancelled due to no funds in account, I was relying on it."

Diane Weavin branded the problems "a joke" after reporting: "At the petrol station had to leave my disabled husband there to run home to get the cash. Not impressed!"

The bank said payments had been delayed, not lost, though that provided little comfort to customers awaiting payments such as tax credits or disability living allowance.

Customers expressed frustration on social media. One woman from Manchester, who uses the name Spaceg1rl on Twitter, said: “I had to leave a full trolley of shopping in the supermarket ’cos my card was declined... on payday.” Another, Kirsty, said: “Thanks to the fact I bank with both RBS and Natwest, I now have to borrow money from my five-year-old’s savings account.”

MPs hit out at the state-owned bank, describing the wait until Saturday for the problem to be fully resolved as “unacceptable”. “This looks like a serious IT failure at RBS, the latest of many in the industry,” said Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP for Chichester, who promised to write to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) about the incident. “Many thousands have once again been badly hit. Customers that have suffered loss should be reimbursed in full by RBS.”

The problems have now been fixed, the bank claimed, but some customers may see delays in receiving payments which could mean not seeing the cash in their accounts for some days. The bank admitted that it could take until Saturday to catch up with all the lost payments.

However it was quick to reassure customers that it would recompense people who may have lost out because of the meltdown.

An RBS spokesman said: "We are aware of an issue which has resulted in a delay to payments and Direct Debits being applied to some customer accounts. We have fixed the underlying issue, we apologise for the inconvenience caused and we are working flat out to get these payments updated for our customers no later than Saturday.

"To any customers concerned about the implications of this issue we advise them to come into a branch or get in touch with our call centres where our staff will be ready to help. We will ensure no customers are left out of pocket as a result of this issue."

The bank said that anyone affected who needed cash today should phone 03457 242424 or visit a branch.

Experts urged customers to check their accounts to ensure that any delayed payments would not hit essential direct debits such as rent, mortgage or utility bills. While the bank has promised to ensure that no-one ends up out of pocket because of the problems, informing any companies or people expecting cash from you today that it is delayed because of the RBS mess, should help ensure you don’t get penalised for the bank’s errors.

It’s not the first time the state-owned bank has been guilty of IT problems. The banking group was fined £56m by the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority last year for the major computer failure that left up to 6.5 million customers unable to use their account for up to three weeks in 2012. Then in 2013, RBS's online service was disrupted by a denial-of-service attack.

Nick Frankcom, money expert at uSwitch said: "The RBS group has a history of IT problems, and this latest issue will leave customers feeling short-changed yet again. Managing transactions is the main reason customers have a bank account in the first place."

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