NatWest bank opened the doors of its 1,200 bank branches across Britain today, which is the first time ever on a Sunday. The bank has been forced to open its doors to be on hand to help customers as best as possible with problems caused by the banks mass system failure during a corrupt software update.
NatWest has faced a lot of criticism for the stress caused to its customers, many who are unable to access their wages which had been paid into their accounts.
The bank has also been criticised for not providing a free helpline for customers affected by the system failure, forcing them to call an expensive 0845 telephone number. In response to the criticism the bank has announced that customers are able to request a refund on any telephone charges that they may incur while trying to contact the bank.
NatWest, which is owned by the largely state funded RBS suffered a computer failure believed to have been caused by a failed software update on RBS’s payment processing systems. The broken system caused a massive amount of payments not to be processed, leaving customers unable to access their cash.
The boss of RBS has issued an apology to customers. Stephen Hester, chief executive RBS said: ‘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. This should not have happened.’
‘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.
‘I also want to reassure customers that no one will be left permanently out of pocket as a result of this, and again, they should contact us directly about this.’
There are concerns about a knock on affect, with customers facing charges from external agencies who will charge for non-payment of their bills, such as credit card companies and mortgage payments. These will be more difficult to claim back, because customers will have to prove that it is NatWest that has caused the non-payment. It is hoped that most customers will be able to resolve these issues without hitch. The bank has 7.5 million UK customers with personal accounts, but it is unknown how many have been affected.
Payments that should have gone into accounts on Wednesday did not get processed, leaving people unable to withdraw money from cash machines or use their debit cards, causing great problems for people ranging from them being unable to pay for their fuel, hotel bills or even having their internet grocery shopping deliveries stopped.