/ Money

Nationwide’s double-debit glitch adds to list of banking blunders

Here we go again… Nationwide is the latest financial brand to trip up after it revealed today that a number of its current account customers have been debited twice for some transactions.

Customers of the building society noticed that debit card transactions made on Tuesday 24th July had been duplicated, with the same amount of money being deducted again the following day.

This resulted in a number of customers going overdrawn, with many of those affected taking to Twitter to voice their frustration, including Stephen Evans (@sevans1308) who said:

‘Turns out Tuesday’s weekly shop was an expensive one, thanks for charging me double #Nationwide!’

Is a refund enough?

Nationwide has said that all errors will be corrected overnight and that customers will be given a full refund for any charges incurred as a result of the problem. But will its customers forgive and forget so easily?

Talk about bad timing. Nationwide was styling itself as the ‘answer’ to the trouble-stricken big banking brands; their homepage urges people to switch, insisting that ‘you don’t need a bank.’

And it seemed to be working, as recent research by Which? found that Nationwide experienced a 67% increase in the number of people switching to them last month. This was in the wake of the technical glitch at RBS/NatWest that left millions unable to access their money, as well as the rate-rigging scandal that engulfed Barclays.

Gremlins and glitches

But it appears that Nationwide is not immune to error. I can easily imagine the frustration and inconvenience experienced by those who have been affected. The term ‘technical glitch’ is becoming worryingly common in the banking domain, and much more needs to be done to restore public confidence in banks.

Gremlins in the banking system will always lurk in the background, but it’s how the banks deal with them that really matters. Nationwide has promised to resolve all the problems, but ultimately, it’ll be judged on how it delivers. Our executive director, Richard Lloyd thinks ‘the least Nationwide can do is keep their customers properly informed on the issue, and they should compensate those people who have been seriously affected’.

Were you affected by the Nationwide glitch? Should we have to accept that big financial institutions will suffer the occasional problem, or is this one error too many for you?

Dan says:
27 July 2012

Another bank c**k-up. No surprise there. They all want us to bank online, but the benefits of doing so are clearly questionable. The banks need to act swiftly to avoid customers losing confidence.

Colin Hall says:
27 July 2012

I have a few problems like this over the past few months with the Nationwide. A couple of ‘Corrected’ transactions and, the biggest problem, was with the basic direct debit system.

I noticed an unexpected DD withdrawal from my account of £778 and thought that’s not right. We contacted the bank and were told that the request had been filed and processed to a housing association that we had never heard of, in Liverpool (the other side of the country to us). We were given the companies details and told to contact them to sort it out. The company agreed that the DD was not meant to have come out of our account and was for rent by a new client of theirs.

I contacted the Nationwide and they said that they would ‘correct’ the error, and then tried to ‘interest’ us in a credit card account that would prevent us from being hit with charges should our account go into the red if this happened again ! I must admit that this sounded like mis-selling to me and I have recently had confirmation that the member of staff should not have tried that.

Mis-selling complaint asided, when I wrote a complaint to the Nationwide and waited the 30 days it takes them to investigate any complaint, they were less than helpful.

Just one question … How safe is our money when a bank does not even check that the name on the Direct Debit form is the same as the account holder they are withdrawing the money from ?

Here are some exact quotes from their response, see what you think …

“I have been in contact with our Payment Services Department who oversee all payments paid both in and out of Nationwide accounts … They advised that direct debits are largely electronically set up. This is as a result of an agreement between both the customer and company. Nationwide act as a third party during the process.”

“Nationwide acts an intermediary between the parties involved and would not have been involved in the setting up of the direct debit.”

“I am unable to guarantee that a situation like this may not happen again.”

“I do accept that it is feasible charges could have been incurred if your account had gone overdrawn as a result of this error. If this was the case, Nationwide would look on this favourably to reimburse any charges”

“I would also like to apologise that when your wife called, she was offered a credit card. In the context of the situation this was not appropriate and certainly should not have been offered.”

Banking is to say the least getting a very negative press these days-and rightly so in many instances.What do we as customers do about it? Shrug our shoulders “I am OK” or do we vote with our feet and move our accounts-but who to? Even the purest of the pure are tainted. I have an account with First Direct and as most Which members know customer service is quite simply the best but they are part of HSBC and think of the press reports of the money laundering funds being deposited into the parent bank? I personally am keeping a close eye on the developments if it gets any worse I will move my account- who to? Have you ever heard of the Under The Pillow Bank? But seriously who or where could one move to find a bank with directors who have the utmost integrity?

Carole Scott says:
27 July 2012

Why is the Post Office so archaic?
Having waited 20 minutes in a town centre post office on one of the hottest days of the year I was struck by how inefficient the processes are. If you receive a letter and its overweight and there is an extra cost involved of 2p you will be charged£1.02. You will have to go down the sorting office to collect it and it shuts at 2.30pm!! This happended to me with a Mothers Day card. So I waited in the stifling heat while several customers sent multiple packages which is one reason why I don’t do Ebay.
Surely with the advances in smart technology there is an alternative? Or is the Post Office deliberatedly making life difficult to make more money?

Jatroa says:
29 July 2012

Odd that several banks have all been hit with glitches due to ‘human error’ recently.

Why, if I didn’t know how solid and reliable the banks are, I may have thought they’d been hacked, like American banks have been.

I’m sure that if they had been hacked, then they woud have owned up – despite the having to admit that any transactions that customers disputed in the future could not be assumed to be the customers fault in giving away their passwords etc.

I’m sure we can all rest easy in the knowledge that the banks are impervious to hackers and that any sudden cash withdrawals from our accounts cannot possibly be the work of hackers.

We’re talking about this on the podcast this week
feel free!

Steve says:
30 July 2012

I experienced the issues with nearly £650 in debit card transactions being taken twice. I thought Nationwide were extremely quick to realise, admit & resolve the issue & credited me back as confirmed the following working day as they stated. No harm done in my case & this is the first issue I’ve had with over 20 years with the Nationwide. Things like this do happen from time to time and I wonder why everyone is always so dramatic about it?

Gelphyn says:
20 September 2012

I agree with Steve above.
The amount taken twice from my account was less than £70.00 but it would have been nice to receive an Internal Message to say what had happened. The error was corrected on the 26th July.

My experience with NWBS stretches back to 1986, and they were slow to make improvements to their OnLine Banking System. Although slow and sure is a reasonable route to take.

If they are able to retain the control over problems, as they have been in this instance, then I am more than happy to accept a minor glitch.

It is after all NOT a perfect world.