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NatWest IT error brings compensation claims

The Financial Services Authority confirmed that NatWest is responsible for any charges customers are liable for, after an IT error left customers unable to access their accounts.

RBS’s computer problems brought chaos to its customers and those of its subsidiaries NatWest and Ulster Bank. Many customers of the banks were unable to access their accounts via online banking or cash machines, with payments and direct debits failing to process. At least 7 million customers were affected when a software update went wrong. The problem has been fixed, but there are still delays as RBS catches up with millions of transactions.

If a bank doesn’t make a payment or is late, then it’s liable to customers for any charge for which the customer is liable. This includes charges or interest made payable to anyone else as a result of missed or late payment.

The computer failure led to one man spending the weekend in jail because his bail payment failed to go through. A couple expecting a baby were ejected from their new house after funds were blocked via their solicitor who banks with NatWest, even though they aren’t NatWest customers themselves.

RBS has said it will compensate customers for any charges they have incurred due to late payments, stating: "There has been an impact to payments, and some payments due to be processed over the past few days may have been delayed. This will impact bill payments due to third parties, for example your credit card or electricity bill. We are working to ensure these payments are processed as priority and will ensure any fees or charges incurred by customers will be fully refunded."

So if you’ve been put out of pocket by RBS’s computer problems, keep records of it and complain to the bank. However, the Financial Services Authority there is nothing in the rules requiring the bank to pay for indirect losses. For example, if you weren’t able to buy train or plane tickets because of the IT glitch and they have now gone up in price, that’s not covered.

Ivor says:

Being unable to get at your own money is a terrible situation to be in. We need to be able to rely on our bank accounts to pay the bills and withdraw money for food and shopping and everyday living. Fortunately the law provides plenty of protection for customers, and if you’ve been affected you should be able to get compensation from the bank!