We're not to blame for costly payments mix-up, say banks
BANKS have insisted they are not responsible for missed payments at a number of companies that have left consumers facing bumper bills.
Eircom, Axa, Aviva and the Revenue Commissioners have all had problems processing direct debits, leaving thousands of people behind on their payments.
Some 30,000 Eircom customers have been impacted by the mix-up, while Axa Insurance admitted that it twice failed to get payments from householders.
Changes to direct debit arrangements due to the new EU-wide Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) initiative have been blamed.
A spokeswoman for Axa said: "Interaction with many transaction systems in the various banks has been problematic."
And a Revenue spokeswoman admitted that 6,000 people did not have their property tax payments processed.
She said the main reason for this was that "validation systems in the banks failing to recognise" some of customer account numbers as part of the new Sepa arrangements.
Now, the banks have insisted they are not to blame, and said that insurers and utility companies were behind the payment blunders that have hit thousands.
Michael of O'Neill, who is the Sepa programme manager in Ireland, said the insurance companies and telecoms firms that originated direct debits were responsible for the missed payments.
Mr O'Neill, who is part of the Irish Payment Services Organisation, said that Ireland was well ahead of other European countries in making the changes needed to move to the new Sepa system. Consumers were not required to do anything, he said.
He added that there were nine million direct debit payments a month in this country and 95pc of these were being processed under the new system.
"And 99pc of all credit transfers – 13 million payments per month – are now successfully processed through Sepa," he said.
Mr O'Neill said the new system would subsequently give consumers greater protections.