Some customers double charged by Ulster Bank
ULSTER BANK admitted last night that it has been double charging some of its customers for transactions in recent days as it works to resolve a technical failure that has left 600,000 customers without access to funds for close to three weeks.
The bank did not say how many accounts had been affected by its latest error, but it apologised to customers and said they would not be left out of pocket as a result of the double charging.
“As we work to restore normal service, some customers may have noticed duplicate transactions on their accounts,” a spokeswoman told The Irish Times.
“We apologise for this, and can assure customers that this is being rectified, and that all duplicate postings will be reversed.”
The bank also said it was still working out what level of compensation it would be prepared to offer customers who have been unable to access their money as a result of the major systems failure at the bank’s IT centre in Edinburgh nearly three weeks ago.
Initially the bank promised that no one would be out of pocket as a result of its technical failure but, under pressure from politicians, customers and the media, this week it has also been forced to confirm that compensation would be offered to affected customers.
A spokeswoman told The Irish Times last night that the bank was treating the issue of compensation very seriously, and more details would emerge early next week.
The offer is likely to revolve around fees and charges for customers and probably beyond that as well, Ulster Bank executives have suggested.
Last night the bank said the speed and accuracy of its overnight automated customer account updates continued at a positive pace and the “majority of our systems are showing balances as of Monday, July 2nd”.
Ulster Bank is opening 50 branches today from 10am to 3pm, while 10 branches will be open tomorrow, Sunday, from 10am to 1pm.
Despite the progress that the bank is reporting, the widespread problems are expected to continue into next week.
According to the most recent estimate, it will be at least July 16th before the problems are resolved.
Financial ombudsman Bill Prasifka said yesterday it was too early to judge if Ulster Bank’s response has been adequate.
“The problem is not over; things have to work themselves out. The goal of our office has always been not simply to make more and more adverse rulings against the financial institutions, but to see them deal with customers, to see them rectify problems when they arise,” he told Morning Ireland. “This will be a test.”
Mr Prasifka said there would be many difficult cases that would arise from this. He highlighted stories of people unable to close sales of houses, and the failure of direct debits to be paid into united linked funds, which would give rise to complicated issues of consequential loss that would need to be worked through on a case-by-case basis.
He said such issues would have to be taken into consideration when awarding compensation.
He also said that compensation would need to cover out-of-pocket loss and stress and inconvenience arising out of the system collapse.
On Thursday evening, the bank’s chief executive, Jim Brown, bowed to political pressure and agreed to waive his annual bonus for 2012, a move which was welcomed by the Irish Bank Officials Association.
“Apart from the immediate issue of restoring a full and effective banking service, a key task for the bank will be to re-establish trust with its customers, restore faith with its staff and rebuild confidence with the public at large,” said the association’s general secretary Larry Broderick.