| 17.1°C Dublin

Ulster Bank IT fiasco heading into week two

THE crisis at Ulster Bank now looks like entering its second week with no resolution of the problems experienced by up to 150,000 customers expected before midweek.

IT problems continued at the bank yesterday for the eleventh day with large numbers of clients complaining that their salaries are not showing up in their accounts due to the technical meltdown.

In one Dublin family alone, a father, mother and daughter paid on separate days last week said their salaries had not shown up in their accounts. In the case of the daughter, who is paid weekly, her salary had not been paid for two weeks. The father said he could access his funds if he went in to a branch with a payslip and ID, but felt this was not satisfactory.

Up to 60 branches were open yesterday and staff in the O'Connell Street, Dublin, branch were on hand to assist a queue of customers before they got to the cashier. However, some people were angry at the continuing delays. One man, who did not want to be named, said the service by the bank was "f***ing s**te".

Another customer, Ade Kunle, said the staff were helpful and were trying to solve the problem. But he said if it was not solved before next weekend he would change banks.

"This has been going on for too long," he said.

The delays in returning the service to normal led to a mild rebuke from the Central Bank which described them as "unacceptable".

Stephen Cruise, Ulster Bank's managing director of branch banking, said yesterday that the crashed system would not be up and running by tomorrow.

"It clearly won't be fixed by then. We are still aiming for early in the week ahead. It is a complex issue and it is taking us more time to work through. I don't have a definite date as to when it will be fixed," he said.

A third of Ulster Bank branches opened yesterday to allow customers to access to their accounts to make essential payments and withdrawals.

Twenty-six branches in Northern Ireland opened between 10am and 3pm yesterday as customers queued to make emergency payments on debit cards and via internal bank transfers. A similar number of branches will be open today between 10am and 1pm.

The bank's online service remained frozen yesterday, preventing the transfer of funds into or out of accounts. Thousands of workers queued at many of the bank's 90 branches in Northern Ireland on Friday after they realised that their monthly salary payments hadn't been transferred into their accounts.

The bank says that staff are working around the clock to clear a huge backlog of unprocessed transactions mistakenly deleted by a worker in a software support company in India. RBS group customers in Britain, who are served by the same computer systems, have been able to access and operate their accounts online for days but Ulster Bank has been unable to announce when its customers will enjoy the same service again.

Mr Cruise said this was because transactions in the group's other banks had to be processed sequentially to reflect payments and transfers into and out of Ulster Bank accounts before the local network could go online again.

Ulster Bank said that no customer, including customers of other banks, will be out of pocket as a result of this issue.

"We are working with the credit reference agencies to ensure that customers' credit ratings are not impacted."

Sunday Independent