News Charlie Weston

Saturday 30 August 2014

Take nothing for granted with your own finances

Charlie Weston

Published 09/07/2014 | 02:30

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7,500 mortgage customers are facing higher monthly repayments
7,500 mortgage customers are facing higher monthly repayments

THE latest mortgage payment bungle by Ulster Bank underscores the importance of customers being vigilant.

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The bank is unfortunate in that it has a list of payments blunders to its name.

The worst was two summers ago when a huge IT crash meant 600,000 customers had no access to their online accounts, could not take money out of ATMs and had to queue up to withdraw cash from branches.

And last year the bank also under-collected mortgage repayments.

Now it has emerged that 7,500 mortgage customers are facing higher monthly repayments after it applied the wrong tax relief to their home loans earlier this year.

Some customers have found out that the miscalculation will mean they now have to repay €330 over the rest of the year.

The mess will wipe out savings that those with trackers were expecting from last month's cut in the European Central Bank rate.

The bank was coy when the Irish Independent put it to that it should suffer the hit for the cock-up instead of forcing its customers to make good the loss.

Errors occur, but Ulster Bank seems to experience more than most.

The core problem is that it has under-invested for years in its IT payments systems, which are integrated with its sister banks Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest.

Many customers find the bank friendly and good to deal with, but others tear their hair out trying to get satisfaction from it.

The commercial and residential property losses being suffered by the bank mean that often customer service is not up to scratch.

All of this emphasises that customers should take nothing on faith. Check every current account statement, savings account and mortgage statement. If you are not happy, then ring the bank and demand answers.

All of that is messy and time-consuming, but it is necessary to take up this approach to all of our recovering banks.

Irish Independent

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