Nationwide system error charges customers twice, while NatWest suffers again

27 July 2012

Nationwide says it has today fixed the computer problems that saw its UK retail banking customers suffer the indignity of having cards and payments refused yesterday after payments were mistakenly taken twice forcing many into overdraft. Meanwhile, RBS NatWest customers could not access online banking services and some direct debits payments were not processed mid-week. The problems follow on from RBS Group earlier catastrophic week-long IT failure.

The problems at Nationwide affected 704,426 customers. Payments made on Tuesday this week were repeated again on Wednesday night when the overnight batch processing system charged exactly the same payments again for a second time, leaving many penniless yesterday. The Nationwide building society says that 50,000 customers were pushed into overdraft as a result, but that it will waive any charges and compensate customers. The mistake has been blamed on “human error”.

According to Jenny Groves, divisional director of customer experience at Nationwide, speaking to the BBC, the society is “pleased to confirm that all debit card transactions processed twice have now been successfully corrected we apologise to those customers affected.”

The problems at the building society could not have come at a worse time as Nationwide has recently been encouraging new customers to switch from the retail banks in the UK towards a mutually owned society such as itself, which is owned by its members and not shareholders. Earlier in the month the society announced that it had seen a 45% increase in people transferring their main current account over to them – those customer switches could now stall in the wake of this problem. Certainly its marketing tagline of 'proud to be different' now looks somewhat hollow.

RBS’ NatWest retail banking operation in the UK says that its IT problems have been fixed too, with online banking services, ATMs and direct debits now all back up and running after the problems yesterday.

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