Ulster Bank says compensation is under review
ULSTER BANK said last night that the issue of financial compensation for 100,000 of its customers adversely affected by ongoing technical issues was now under review.
Calls have been made for the bank to suspend the bonuses of its most senior executives, postpone plans to introduce bank charges for current account holders and pay compensation to everyone who has experienced difficulties accessing funds.
The chief executive of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, Dermott Jewell, said the bank’s apologies were completely insufficient and it would need to financially compensate affected customers.
“It must come up with a meaningful goodwill gesture both by way of apology and as a calming measure,” he said.
He suggested that the bank could abandon plans to introduce charges on its current accounts or freeze all ATM charges for a period.
Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins echoed Mr Jewell’s comments and called on the bank to withhold bonuses from senior staff and freeze charges.
“In the interest of fairness, I am calling on Ulster Bank to postpone all bonuses to senior management and refrain from imposing any bank charges on customers until January 2013,” she said.
An Ulster Bank spokeswoman declined to say exactly how the company would deal with the fallout from the crisis other than to say that it was “reviewing the issue of customer compensation and will communicate further in due course”.
The bank’s head of retail banking, Stephen Cruise, said it would work towards rebuilding the public’s trust “one customer at a time” once the problems had been resolved but, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday, he rejected the idea that the bank has been “economical with the truth” over how long it would take to resolve the issue.
That does not appear to be the view of the Central Bank and, ahead of an appearance before an Oireachtas hearing today, its senior officials are understood to be furious with the manner in which Ulster Bank has handled the crisis.
Sources told The Irish Times that the bank’s drip-feeding of inaccurate information about when the difficulties would be resolved had only exacerbated problems.
Mr Cruise described the difficulties as “unprecedented” and assured customers they would not be left “out of pocket” for expenses incurred as a result of the bank’s problems.
However, Mr Jewell said such assurances were not enough and he warned that despite the bank’s promises some people would have their credit rating negatively affected as a result of missed payments because funds did not show up in their Ulster Bank accounts.