As NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Ulster Bank attempt to get back to normal after an IT fiasco that paralysed their banking system for more than a week, customers are now faced with the long laborious task of getting their finances back in order.
In a letter to the chairman of the Teeasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie MP, Mr Hester said the bank would launch a “full and detailed investigation into the cause of the problem, overseen by independent experts and reporting to the board risk committee.
“I am determined to personally lead the process of regaining the trust of our customers,” he added.
While most services are said to be back up and running, as many as 100,000 Ulster Bank customers have been told they won’t be able to access their money until Monday July 2 at the earliest.
The RBS group, which owns all three brands, has promised that no customers will be “left permanently out of pocket” or see their credit rating affected by the blackout, which has prevented millions of people from making or receiving payments over recent days.
But it’s now down to consumers to seek compensation, refunds of charges and fees and ensure their credit profiles are unscathed, so we’ve put together the key facts, contacts and phone numbers to help you get started.
Checking credit ratings
Credit reference agencies have warned that late payment of bills can make it more difficult – and more expensive – for consumers to borrow money in the future and that people will have to be able to prove any payment problems were caused by the banking glitch.
James Jones, head of consumer affairs at Experian, said: “It is perhaps yet to sink into the public, the potential ramifications in terms of adverse data about repayments.
“If any payments are delayed, you really need to have a conversation with those creditors.
“Many organisations now share data. It’s not just traditional lenders but mobile phone companies, utilities, broadband providers, mortgages, hire purchase agreements.”
Mr Jones added that lenders should allow seven to 10 days before recording a late payment.
Meanwhile, Neil Munroe, executive director of Equifax, said the agency was anticipating “more disputes” about missed and late payments.
Experian can be contacted on 0844 481 8000 or at experian.co.uk
Equifax can be contacted on 0844 335 0550 or at equifax.co.uk
Callcredit can be contacted on 0845 366 0071 or at callcredit.co.uk
Make a list and keep receipts
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has warned that the knock-on effects from the computer meltdown could take some time to rectify.
FOS spokesman David Cresswell said there would be a “ripple effect from the original problems”.
He urged consumers to keep a detailed record of all their transactions, including receipts, late payment penalties and overdraft fees.
“What you need to do is make a clear list of how you have been affected, so you can go back to your bank and say: ‘This is the complete picture, how can you help?” he said.
How to complain to the Financial Ombudsman
The FOS advises that complaints should be made first of all to the bank or company concerned. They have eight weeks to look at the problem. The FOS can contact the business on the customer’s behalf.
It added that it may be able to provide compensation to some consumers if the bank is unable to resolve all disputes on its own.
The Ombudsman can be contacted on 0800 023 4567 or at financial-ombudsman.org.uk.
Beware of e-mail scams
Many of the NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank customers affected have reportedly been targeted by fraudsters following the banking calamity.
According to the Government’s Action Fraud centre, phishing e-mails are in circulation, claiming to be “security upgrades” and asking people for their account details.
People are being urged not to click on any links or attachments in suspicious-looking e-mails. The RBS Group said it would never contact anyone in this way to ask confidential details.
Extended banking hours
RBS has said that opening hours will be extended at more than 900 branches on Friday June 29 from 8am to 6pm and on Saturday June 30 from 8am to 4pm.
A statement on the RBS website said: “We can confirm that any fees and charges incurred by customers will be fully refunded.
“This includes charges levied by a third party; for example, if you were late paying a non-RBS credit card or mortgage because your account wrongly showed there wasn’t sufficient cash.
“For our current account customers, we will automatically waive overdraft fees and charges.”
It said that customers should be able to access online services as normal, but that some people may not be able to view an up to date balance.
“We are continuing to work on a resolution to this,” the bank added.
RBS Group chief executive, Stephen Hester, has apologised for the disruption.
“I am very sorry for the difficulties people are experiencing. Our customers rely on us day in and day out to get things right, and on this occasion we have let them down,” he said.
“This should not have happened.”
He added: “Right now my top priority, and the priority of the entire RBS Group, is to fix these problems and put things right for our customers.
“This is taking time, but I want to reassure people that we are working around the clock to resolve these problems as quickly as we are able.
“I also want to be clear that where our customers are facing hardship or difficulty we can and will help them. Our staff have already helped thousands of customers to access cash and we will continue to provide this service on a 24 hour basis while we work to resolve the problems.”
Bank contact details
Customers experiencing problems can contact RBS and NatWest on
0161 931 9959
0800 656 9639
0845 777 7766
If you’re calling from overseas the numbers are
NatWest +44 (0) 8705 88444
RBS +44 (0) 13154 98888
Ulster Bank customers can call
Republic of Ireland 1800 205100
Northern Ireland 0800 231232.