Thu 28th Jun 2012, 12:00pm
It’s been a forgettable week for UK banks and their customers with NatWest - RBS Group, and Barclays making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Last Wednesday, NatWest customers began reporting ‘technical problems’ with making and receiving payments and viewing balances online, which had developed overnight. Within 24 hours, the problem had spread to RBS & Ulster Bank (part of RBS Group) across a 7.5 million customer-base.
Salary and automatic payments were affected, leaving thousands of UK households without food, unable to pay bills, and facing penalty charges and credit rating down grades for missed payments.
One irate customer was forced to spend a weekend in jail after the bank failed to process his bail money, whilst other customers were unable to complete house purchases & contractual payments.
Overstretched RBS Group customer services staff were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of customer complaints, forcing the banks to extend opening hours and hire additional staff.
As the fault stretched into the weekend - forcing banks to remain open for business, some began to openly speculate that RBS was facing a liquidity crisis – a rumour aided by the banks recent credit downgrading at the hands of Moody’s.
More credible opinion from ex-RBS staff pointed to the recent outsourcing of IT systems to India, following the sacking of 1600 specialised IT staff to cut costs.
Eventually under-fire CEO Stephen Hester was forced to make a television appearance Sunday, outlining in vague terms the nature of the fault – ‘an IT upgrade’ – had been identified and resolved, and the majority of the customer backlog would be cleared by Monday. Meanwhile speculation continues regarding the impact of this fault on the bank and the reputation and bonuses of senior management like Hester.
As you might expect, it has been an extremely busy week for Move Your Money as angry NatWest RBS customers have flooded social media channels, voicing their frustration and anger over poor treatment, while shopping around for reliable banking alternatives. Banks which actually deliver on customer service.
With news headlines today widely reporting fraudulent practices involving manipulation of LIBOR inter-bank loan rates at Barclays, and Chancellor George Osborne suggesting HSBC and RBS are also involved, the bad banking news just keeps on coming.
As taxpayers, we can but sit and hope that regulators and politicians make the correct decisions and take appropriate remedial action. Where systemic fraud has occurred, as with Barclays, criminal investigation and prosecution should follow.
In the mean time, the best thing we can do as consumers to change the toxic banking culture is to move our money from the likes of NatWest, RBS and Barclays, and deposit with banks we can trust and be proud of. In times like this, its comforting to know they do actually exist.
For customers left out of pocket by the NatWest RBS problems, please feel free to contact Move Your Money for advice on recovering late payment fees, and information on changing banking provider.