Sunday 24 September 2017

Ulster Bank customers take to social networks as backlog won’t be cleared for days

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

FRUSTRATED Ulster Bank customers took to social networks today to vent their fury as it emerged that they will have to wait until the end of the week before systems are working properly and the backlog of transactions is cleared.

Six days after the massive technical meltdown came to light, the finance house admitted resolving the problem was "taking significantly longer than expected" amid hopes the matter would be dealt with by today.

As the final week of the month begins and thousands await monthly salary payments, the bank said the scale of the backlog affecting 100,000 people has been "unprecedented".

Kevin Gray posted on Twitter; “I am actually 100pc leaving Ulster Bank.”

Denise Mahon said: “If it was a glitch in the system and a technical fault at Ulster Bank should it not be sorted by now?”

“Ulster Bank sort it out for f*** sake,” posted Robbie Dagher while Liam McKenna posted: “Ulster Bank I’m really starting to lose my patience with you. Get this sorted.”

Niamh Keogh said: “ Ulster Bank would want to cop on. I have like no money for holidays.”

Although the bank declined to give any details on the nature of the "technical issue" that sparked the problems, it has ruled out hacking.

Thousands of worried customers flocked to branches across the country over the weekend, which opened to help deal with concerns. Branch staff dealt with more than 9,000 people on Saturday, while more than 6,600 telephone calls were recorded.

"The scale of the backlog is unprecedented and across the group we are working around the clock to get this resolved," the bank said in a statement.

"However, in Ulster Bank's case we have encountered a significant number of minor issues which require manual intervention.

"This has delayed us being able to move forward as quickly as we would have liked to automatically process payments from subsequent days. The result is that it will be towards the end of this week before we will be operating back at real time for all our customers."

The bank again apologised for the fiasco. Some 60 branches opened on Saturday, while the bank took the unusual step of opening about 20 outlets on Sunday.

The bank has said that customers who need money but have experienced delays in receiving their wages can get access to funds by attending a branch, bringing photo ID and a copy of their bank statement for last month.

It has also promised to refund customers who incurred interest charges or fees as a result of the computer glitch.

A spokeswoman for the bank said parent company Royal Bank of Scotland will carry out a full review. RBS also oversees UK bank NatWest, which has also been affected by the glitch.

The Central Bank reiterated its concern for customers, but a spokesman would not comment when asked if it plans on carrying out an investigation into the difficulties. He said customers were the priority at present.

However, it is understood that the Central Bank is expected to launch an investigation into the handling of the massive failure.

Silence

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association branded the issue "worrying" and said it "beggars belief" that a bank would not have a back-up IT capability when systems fail.

Chief executive Mark Fielding said: "We all know that it's the last week of the month and salaries go in, but many, many businesses pay their suppliers in the last week of the month also.

"The silence from the Central Bank is deafening. We certainly need some sort of an investigation, not alone into Ulster Bank," he said.

"We need assurances to businesses who are losing confidence in their banking system. We need assurances that the other banks have a better system and that this can't happen again."

The Irish Banking Federation -- the main voice for the banking sector in Ireland -- could not be reached for comment last night.

Galway Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins suggested some customers should take legal action for breach of contract.

"There is huge anger at the continuous missing of deadlines by the bank. People have come to me who are at their wits' end because they cannot access their wages or social welfare entitlements," Ms Higgins said.

"And there has been no real clarity from Ulster Bank or the RBS as to what exactly has gone wrong," said Senator Higgins.

Branch opening hours will be extended to 6pm today at 80 branches across the country.

Irish Independent

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