NatWest technical failure – where do you stand?

Technical difficulties which left millions of NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank customers struggling to access their money for up to six days are now largely fixed says RBS, as it works through the backlog created by the glitch.

An error with the bank’s software triggered the problem on Wednesday night and meant that customers' accounts were not updated with payments that should have gone in. While many accounts were displaying an up-to-date balance by the end of Wednesday, the same problem affected the daily update overnight on Thursday and into Friday.

As a result, some customers reported that their wages hadn’t cleared while others said direct debits had failed and balances were incorrectly displayed. There were also reports of missed mortgage payments and some online banking services were unavailable.

NatWest customers are worst affected and the bank has apologised for the disruption calling the down-time “unacceptable” and pledging to refund all charges incurred by missed payments.

The bank claims the technical problem is now largely fixed and that it is now working through the six-day backlog created by the glitch.

If you’re one of the customers affected and are wondering what to do or what your rights are, here’s what you need to know.

What if I miss a payment because of the glitch?

NatWest/RBS has promised to reimburse you for any charges you might incur as a result of not being able to pay a bill on time. 

This includes charges from third parties, so if your credit card company or mortgage provider charges you for missing a payment date, they’ll still pay the charges for you.

If you've been affected by a missed payment, or you can't find an answer to your query on http://www.natwest.com/, you can contact the bank on 0161 931 9959, 08457 77 77 66 or 0800 656 9639.

But what about my credit file?

Missing payments can have a negative effect on your credit profile, but clearly you can’t be held responsible for any missed payments relating to the glitch.

NatWest says it is working with credit reference agencies to prevent any credit ratings damage as a result of its mammoth mistake. However, the onus is on you to check your report for any anomalies.

Late payments shouldn’t actually be registered by lender until seven to 10 days later, so it may not be a problem.

If it does get as far as your credit file, put in for a notice of correction with Experian or Equifax. This short (200 words maximum) explanatory note will show anyone searching your file in the future why you weren’t at fault.

I need to pay a bill, what can I do?

Get on the phone and explain the problem to whoever needs paying, given the scale of the problem they may extend the payment deadline. They may also refund any charges automatically made.

My wages haven’t gone into my account, what can I do?

If your employer banks with NatWest or you’re a NatWest customer, you have found your wages haven’t arrived. In this case, speak to your employer for updates – they may have a contingency plan for this type of situation, such as emergency assistance.

If you have no money in your account or are at your overdraft limit it is worth contacting the bank to arrange a temporary overdraft extension. The bank has said no customer will be out of pocket as a result of the problems so any interest charges or fees resulting from this should be refunded.

What is NatWest doing about it?

NatWest says it is working hard to resolve the problem and has extended its opening hours to accommodate customers who wouldn’t be able to get to a branch during business hours.

On Friday (June 22) branches were open until 7pm. On Saturday, branches extended their opening hours to 6pm (from 12.30pm) and from 9am to 12pm on Sunday. With no firm end in sight, branches will extend their opening hours to 7pm tonight (Monday).

It is also providing updates via its website here and its Twitter account here.

Can I get compensation?

NatWest has promised that no customers will be left out of pocket as a result of the technical problems, and will reimburse customers for any charges incurred for missed payments.

This includes waiving or automatically refunding any charges for using an RBS, NatWest or Mint credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM. NatWest is also giving customers an extra £100 above their credit limit on these cards and waiving over-limit charges.

There is unlikely to be any 'across the board' compensation, but if you feel you have a genuine claim (whether you are a NatWest, RBS or Ulster Bank customer or not) you should make a formal complaint to the bank explaining why.

As a first port of call, fill in this form citing the reason 'charges and compensation' under the question: How have you been impacted? If you don't get a response from your bank after eight weeks, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service which can be found here or on 0800 023 4567.

I’ve had enough and want to switch bank

Such is the anger and frustration among many customers, some have said they plan to move to another bank. If you are going to switch your current account, visit our current account channel to find the most suitable account for your needs.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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