Payments Council publishes cross-industry procedures to aid those hit by RBS IT failure

26 July 2012

The UK Payments Council has updated its advice to retail bank customers in the UK adversely impacted by the catastrophic RBS Group IT failure, which downed RBS, NatWest and the entire retail banking operation for more than a week, and continues to affect the Ulster Bank imprint. Many customers of other retail banks and building societies in the UK were also affected by the IT failure which meant payments in and out of millions of current accounts in the UK went unprocessed leading to missed wages, mortgages, business payments, utility bills and so forth.

A voluntary agreement was brokered in the wake of the crisis, covering the vast majority of UK financial providers, which should help ensure customers’ claims are dealt with as quickly as possible. The additional advice published by the Payments Council this week is intended to encourage UK retail banking customers to contact their financial institution in the first instance with any compensation claims, keep notes of any contacts and to escalate their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Services if they do not feel they are being deal with fairly. A frequently asked questions (FAQ) section is also included in the latest advice.

The Payments Council, which somewhat harshly looks set to be disbanded by year end anyway, has worked with the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), the Building Societies Association (BSA), the Association of Foreign Banks, the UK’s three credit reference agencies (Experian, CallCredit and Equifax), the UK Cards Association (UKCA), which represents credit card providers, and the Council of Mortgage Lenders in developing this latest advice, which follows on from its initial communications on 25 June to UK bank customers.

According to Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council, the RBS Group IT failure was an exception event, which is true in that the length of the downtime was exceptional but RBS and indeed HSBC had both suffered day-long IT failures in the run-up to Christmas last year. Nevertheless Kamellard believes that: “RBS Group has stepped up to the mark and put a process in place to enable other institutions to help their affected customers directly and quickly. This has been aided by the cooperation we’re getting from other financial providers across the industry and their efforts to ensure frontline staff know what processes are in place. We hope that this will reassure customers as to what they can expect and who they should be dealing with.”

“In the vast majority of cases we’d expect claims from customers or businesses to be quite straightforward, involving late payment fees or interest, but inevitably there will be some more complicated cases, particularly in Northern Ireland [regarding Ulster Bank],” he added. “As normal service resumes for Ulster Bank customers, Northern Irish financial institutions are currently putting in place processes to resolve fees, interest and other issues on customer accounts arising from the RBS technical issue.”

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