Ulster Bank to open late as backlog continues

Tue, Jun 26, 2012, 01:00

SOME 80 Ulster Bank branches will have extended opening hours until 7pm for the rest of the week as the bank continues an attempt to clear a backlog in payments.

The backlog – which is affecting more than 100,000 customers of the bank – is now in its eighth day and will not be resolved until the weekend, the bank has said.

While customers affected to date have mainly been those paid weekly or making once-off transactions, monthly salaries are due to be paid this week.

In a statement yesterday evening Ulster Bank said it was facilitating customers who have experienced delays in receiving their salaries or social welfare benefits on the production of payslips and identification.

Customers unable to get to a branch or an ATM are asked to contact the bank on 1800-205100. They can also take cash out on credit cards interest-free, it said.

“We continue to work through the backlog of payments caused by the recent RBS group-wide technical issue with a view to completing this by the weekend. We once again apologise to customers for the continued inconvenience,” it added.

“We confirm that no customer will be out of pocket as a result of this issue. We are also working with the credit reference agencies to ensure that customers’ credit ratings are not impacted.”

Customers should check the bank’s website, ulsterbank.ie, for branches that are open and for relevant telephone numbers.

The bank has said that clearing the build-up of interrupted transactions was “taking significantly longer than expected” and, as a result, customer accounts were not fully operational. It said the original technical problem was caused by a software upgrade to the payment processing system which was corrupted.

In a statement yesterday, the Central Bank said it had been in contact with Ulster Bank to “press the bank to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and ensure that customers are treated fairly”.

“At a meeting with Ulster Bank senior management today, the Central Bank emphasised the importance of clear communication and support to consumers,” the statement added.

The bank processed more than 110,000 transactions with a value of €500 million over the weekend, and a spokeswoman said most payments involving customers from other banks had been processed.

Ulster Bank opened branches over the weekend to deal with customer enquiries and received almost 9,000 customer telephone calls, while 11,100 people called into its branches.

Separately, National Irish Bank confirmed it experienced a technical issue on its systems yesterday morning. The issue resulted in the online banking service being unavailable for a short time.

“The cause of the problem was promptly identified and back-up systems were immediately put in place. Full service across all systems is now being re-established, with most already back up and running,” the bank said.

Ulster Bank chief executive Jim Brown has held a conference call with senior executives at other Irish lenders to update them on progress.