RBS meltdown: bank vows to 'compensate' angry customers

Angry shoppers 'embarrassed' at checkouts and petrol stations, but RBS can't explain shut-down

LAST UPDATED AT 11:17 ON Tue 3 Dec 2013

THE Royal Bank of Scotland has promised to compensate any customer left "out of pocket" after an IT meltdown left them unable to use credit and debit cards yesterday.

Thousands of customers of RBS Group, which includes NatWest and Ulster Bank, were unable to use their cards on Cyber Monday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Some found that their payments were declined, while others could not access the banks' websites or smartphone apps, The Guardian reports. There are reports of 'embarrassed' shoppers having to walk away from fully-laden shopping trolleys at supermarket checkouts and angry encounters at petrol stations after drivers were unable to pay for fuel.

The Independent says as many as 24 million people may have been affected by the shutdown. RBS systems have now returned to normal, the paper says, but a spokeswoman for the group said it still doesn't know what caused the glitch.

In angry postings on social media, many customers pointed out that NatWest suffered a similar IT meltdown in the summer of 2012 when customers were unable to access their accounts for a number of days. RBS, which is 80 per cent-owned by the UK government, insisted it had improved its services since the IT fiasco 18 months ago.

An RBS spokeswoman said: "We are very sorry for the system issues that affected our customers. If customers have been left out of pocket as a result of these system problems, we will put this right." She urged affected customers to "resolve" any issues relating to the meltdown with an RBS call centre or by visiting one of its branches.

The problems appear to have begun at about 6.30pm, forcing some customers to abandon online shopping and others to walk away from fully-laden shopping trolleys.

The Financial Times says the "embarrassing breakdown" was an unwelcome reminder of the large-scale computer systems failure at the bank last year. But the paper adds that it "laid bare" the challenges for banks in managing large IT operating systems.

In April this year, the Financial Conduct Authority took the "unusual step" of announcing a formal investigation into the 2012 IT failure at NatWest that could result in "big fines for the bank". The FCA has not yet decided whether or not enforcement action should follow that investigation, the FT says. · 

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