Ulster Bank boss Jim Brown defends compensation deal


The boss of Ulster Bank has rejected accusations of too little, too late over compensation for a month-long IT meltdown which affected a third of the bank's two million customers.

In a gesture to repair its damaged reputation, personal current account holders in the Republic of Ireland will get 25 euro while those in Northern Ireland get £20 in one-off payouts.

On top of that a three month banking fee holiday has been offered along with reimbursement of expenses run up by customers inconvenienced by the chaos.

Jim Brown, Ulster Bank chief executive, rejected claims from some politicians and business leaders that the compensation package was too small.

"I'm happy with it. I think it goes far enough," he said.

"In terms of larger more complex cases, someone not being able to settle on a property, we will look at those on a case by case basis."

The final compensation bill is expected to be at least twice the initial 35 million euro set aside earlier in the year.

Ulster Bank's head of retail banking Stephen Cruise said he expected the total bill to be "tens of millions" more than the money already provided by RBS.

That will cover other elements of the package such as reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the technical chaos topped up by 20% to a maximum of 120 euro or £100.

Anyone affected by the June 19-July 18 crisis is urged to contact the bank and use all phone bills, bus tickets, travel receipts, bills or invoices from the period to demonstrate costs.

But Mark Fielding, chief executive of small business group Isme, refused to accept that was a victory for the consumer.

"With regard to the miserly compensation being offered, it will cost small business owners more than the compensation to make a claim, to include bus tickets, phone bills and travel receipts," he said.

The bank said it will start processing claims from Monday.

Elsewhere, people not banking with Ulster Bank but who suffered knock-on effects of the payments blackout have been told to apply for compensation through their own bank first.

Separately, there is a commitment to delay the introduction of maintenance fees for all personal current account holders until July 2013.

Savings customers have also been offered a one-off payment. It will be the equivalent of an additional rate for three months of 0.06% gross, 0.25% on the average daily balance, between September 1 and November 30 this year.

Amid fears that the banking breakdown will damage customers' credit rating, free financial health checks are being offered from the Irish Credit Bureau. Reports on ratings will be available within five days for customers with concerns.

Dermot Jewell, Ireland's Consumers Association chief, gave a guarded welcome but criticised the compensation limits and said that customers of other banks who were hit by knock-on delays are not being proactively paid.

Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath said the package was fair and reasonable but Phil Flanagan, a Sinn Fein MLA in Northern Ireland, said: "I can see no reason why such a simple scheme has taken so long to put in place."

The Ulster Bank failure left many customers unable to see or use cash paid into their accounts, meaning delayed home purchases, disappearing wages, holidaymakers out of pocket and social welfare recipients left penniless.

In the UK, the Consumer Council said bank customers may qualify for compensation for more than just financial loss.

"We have guidance on the types of things people can claim for which include losses which aren't financial, such as trouble, stress and inconvenience," it said.

Bernard Sheridan, director of consumer protection with Ireland's Central Bank, said he could not enforce compensation levels.

"While Ulster Bank is required to reimburse and make good any actual losses suffered by customers, the level of any payment for inconvenience suffered is not subject to the Central Bank's regulatory standards or approval.

"This is a commercial decision for Ulster Bank."

The Irish Payment Services Organisation (Ipso) is working closely with its member banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions to ensure that customers know how to get help if they have been affected by the recent systems incident at Ulster Bank.

Ulster Bank said any errors made on fees, charges and debit interest will be corrected by the end of October.

And customers in both jurisdictions have been urged to approach the relevant financial ombudsman if they fail to get satisfaction over losses.

An inquiry by Ireland Central Bank into the Ulster Bank crisis is not expected to be completed for months. The penalty which the bank could face is up to five million euro.

Mr Brown has waived his bonus for 2012, along with Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS, the bank bailed out with £45 billion by the British Government, the world's costliest.

He said the source of the IT meltdown was traced to upgrade work on software for the bank's payments system.

Bank chiefs have said the Ulster Bank crisis lasted for four weeks - compared to just over two weeks for RBS and NatWest - because of technical differences in operations.

Independent investigators will report the cause of the breakdown and how the bank handled the fallout in several weeks.

The key finding on why Ulster Bank customers were left with banking services for one month when the rest of RBS was back up and running will also be released, Mr Brown said.

No information on whether IT staff or anyone else has been sacked as a result of the crisis was available.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Digital Marketing Exec / Online Marketing Executive

£35 - 40k: Guru Careers: Our client has a new role for a Digital Marketing Exe...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'