/ Money

Has NatWest’s glitch sent your bank account into meltdown?

Have you been affected by NatWest’s banking blip? What may be a ‘technical’ issue for NatWest has resulted in some seriously unhappy customers. Here’s your feedback and our advice on getting money back.

You’re a NatWest customer. You log on to check your balance. The figure is not what you expect and some of your bills haven’t been paid.

Unfortunately this is a familiar scene for around 12 million customers who were affected by NatWest’s ‘IT error’ last week, the consequences of which are continuing to have a knock on effect to customers’ bank accounts.

The lowdown on Twitter

We were keen to gauge the impact this has had on NatWest customers’ finances. A number of people responded to @WhichMoney’s Twitter account shout-out for feedback. Craig Hulland said, ‘I have no wages paid despite saying the problem is fixed.’

And Chris Jarret had even bigger problems on his hands:

‘Due to NatWest technical issue, I’m currently homeless. My house purchase failed to complete. I’ll be switching bank ASAP.’

What is NatWest doing to help?

NatWest has published some advice on its website confirming what it’ll do to help customers in this situation.

But it’s not just your bank account that may feel the consequences of this error. It’s likely that if you’ve been affected, you’ve spent time and money trying to get your finances fixed. We’ve prepared some tips to help make sure you get back what you’re owed.

1. Lodge a formal complaint with NatWest as soon as possible

Let NatWest know that you have been affected and give it a detailed account of any costs that you have incurred and payments that have been missed both to and from your account and the impact on you for any distress and inconvenience.

2. Document everything

Keep a detailed log of losses including interest incurred on missed payments and other penalties, phone charges and any account activity that has or should have taken place (including rent or mortgage payments, credit card and bill payments and wages).

3. Eight weeks and counting

The bank has up to eight weeks to resolve your complaint. If it has not done so by that time or you’re not satisfied with the response, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The error is the type of IT failure you might expect (or accept) from a very small company. But a big bank like NatWest? Our executive director, Richard Lloyd, has warned:

‘NatWest should compensate everyone who’s been affected and is out of pocket, no questions.’

We’re worried about how robust other banks’ IT systems are and we want the financial regulator to urgently examine the systems and control to find out the cause of the problem.

Have you been affected by NatWest’s error? Are you keeping track of all the phone calls and other outlays you may have put out in order to get your finances back on track?


When does a service failure become a breach of contract?

Hello John, this is a complicated one. If there was a contract between the company and the customer that said the company would provide X and they didn’t, then the customer could say the company was in breach of that contract. However, the T&Cs of a contract often include clauses that excludes liability altogether in certain circumstances or put a cap on the amount that will be paid or both; contracts often also say that continuous availability of electronic services can’t be guaranteed.

If excluding liability is in the contract, then it might be able to be challenged as unfair, but that’s very much dependent on the specific clause.

Also, if a customer had a contract with a company to provide a service and they could show that the company had failed to use “reasonable care and skill” when providing that service then they could argue that there had been a breach of the implied terms of the contract.

This is speculative and not necessarily related to Natwest’s specific contract.

Thank you, Patrick, for that response. I’m thinking here that if my employer’s bank has a contract with another bank to receive, process and make available to me on demand my monthly income, and this other bank defaults, for whatever reason, and fails to make amends in a timely manner, then my employer’s bank has a just cause for action. After all, the diligent transference of funds between the banks is the essence of their contract. I hope that weasel words in contracts don’t shelter corporate delinquency. It would be good if the courts were invited to take a look at the limits of contractual liability – I won’t be sitting on the edge of my seat in expectation, though.

FYI @ActionFraud twitted this this morning “Alert: Beware of NatWest #phishing emails designed to play on the anxiety of customers locked out of their accounts”


Be safe out there.

Computer says…

I’m glad I don’t rely totally on cards. Everybody spends all their time now trying to control everybody else and spouting spin on how good they are. Well there’s a lot of spin and sometimes it spins out of control. A lesson for everyone I think.

I emailed NatWest yesterday regarding a bill payment which they rescheduled because of the software problems. This has made the payment late and will incur a penalty. NatWest rang me this morning and apologised. They have also credited my account with twice the penalty charge.
I am quite happy with the way and speed with which they have dealt with my problem and feel that they are getting knocked in a lot of cases unfairly. We hear all the extreme cases the media can dig up, lets have some balance and less hysteria.

Adam says:
27 June 2012

Been trying to get a mortgage with Natwest since early March, it’s now 27th June. Nothing wrong with property, mortgage value is 1/4 what I could afford. I have rang Natwest 30+ times trying to sort this out..been promised call becks 4-5 times never to recieve one yet…have logged complaints on line with no responce. Paid £400 for a mortgage survey, rental property ended May’12, have no where to live, and still no closer to getting a valuation… HELPFUL BANKING FROM NATWEST, excuse after excuse we should all leave!!!

Trevor says:
13 July 2012

Had the same problem with Natwest during the commencement the financial melt down of banks My Mortgage Provider ofered £4000 off my redemption figure if I was to move my Mortgage the offer was only open for 3 months I went to NatWest where I have a Gold account whih is supposed to give me benificail mortgage rates Due to Natwest Incompetance delays and non retrun of my documents I eventualy demanded everything Back The eventualy told me that I had been declined for a mortgage with them and they had lost my file Needless to say I lost the £4000 offer as 3 months has now passed I issued a claim aginast Natwest for their incompetance lets say they were forced to settle I am not alowed to say how much but I can assure you it was greater than £4000.
If Nat west are failing to deal with you fairly and in a timely manner have lost your documents then go to another all of market mortgage advisor and dump Natwest They are a dead loss

I’m with Natwest and hadn’t experienced any of these troubles until recently. TV licencing have been badgering me to ask why I haven’t paid. I explained the issues with Natwest (which they were aware of) and they have given me an extra week for the payment to go through…

Haven’t seen your Twitter feed, so don’t know if you’ve had reports that customers of small building societies may be affected by the NatWest glitches if their building society uses NatWest to do funds transfer. I know I have a relative who’s not received her wages through this, but won’t mention the building society in case it’s the only one that’s been unlucky (others of my family use it too, and it’s a good local society, wouldn’t want to tarnish their reputation). There must be an issue for the FSA here in checking that any actions in mitigation, and any compensation, by NatWest reaches users of all banks/building societies affected; and for the future that small building societies may continue to have a choice of provider for funds transfer. For example, I don’t think that the much-publicised late-night office openings by NatWest would help customers of building societies, unless NatWest maintained records of who was likely to be affected.

Adam says:
28 June 2012

Retail banking is a totally messed up business sector, all the big players have lost the plot…Customers have the power to walk, take your business to a company that respect and value your custom (Virgin, Yorkshire etc), these bloated bailed out monster banks are just leaches (skimming the profits off your money) raking in mega salaries and bonuses. They will only learn from their mistakes if consumers punish them.

2,300 bank computer jobs lost in UK, Feb 2009;
1000 bank computer jobs and plans to send 500 bank computer jobs out of the UK, Sept 2010; Chaos to bank customers due to software problems, June 2012 – I don’t think so – think again!
Come on consumers, they have to make their huge bonuses and profits from somewhere, why should it be at our expense?

John says:
29 June 2012

My problems with Nat West predate the current fiasco. I have been trying to get a replacement business card since January 2012. Despite numerous assurances that it is in the post, it has never arrived. We have not had a named relationship/business manager for at least 1 year; the previous manager is on extended maternity leave. I have lodged a formal complaint which has been acknowledged.

On Monday 25th I made a cash/cheque counter deposit. On Thursday 28th I paid in a cheque only deposit and today I made small cash/cheque deposit. On Thursday I was told by the bank counter staff that the Monday deposit would show on my statement on Friday today.I asked again about my Monday deposit and the clerk said they had been told to advise customers that all deposits would be shown om statements dated 30th June. This is a Saturday.

So far only the cheque only deposit is on our statement. The other two credits included £1,000. I rang the support line today at about 12:30pm. At my insistence I was transferred to a “business manager”. Of course we were complete strangers. carefully and politely I explained that I had suppliers and staff to pay by 5pm tonight and would they grant the business an overdraft facility of £5,000 for 7 days and also explain what action would be taken if I overdrew the account.
We have an impeccable banking record, average daily credit balance over £3,000, never overdrawn. I answered all their questions about the company’s trading history (we were 3 years old on Tuesday 26th June), gave them all my personal details, as did my co-director and waited for a call back. It never came.

At 4.30pm I paid all our suppliers and 1 employee, leaving £67.16 in our account. If our account is restored to normal on Monday I will be able to pay the directors.

In all my 43 years working life I have never had such appalling service. And to make it worse, when I listen to the news, read a serious newspaper or log on the Nat West web site I hear and read about the CEO assuring all their customers that all will be sorted out and every consideration given to urgent needs. It is a shame that he has NOT told his staff what he has told his customers.

Not surprisingly, I have begun discussions with Lloyds TSB and Barclays about transferring the business account. (The Co-op do not have a local branch).

I’ve not been affected by the problems but when i put a comment about maybe out of date software on the BRS comment site, it was immediately removed – I mean in 2 seconds. My faith in Natwest went from 4/10 to 0 just as fast……..

@terry, the fact the problems were due to a software upgrade would imply that not all their software was out-of-date. They will probably like nearly all banks being using hardware that was at its prime 10-20 years ago and procedures that are probably just as bad. OK, so about almost everything in a bank is going to be poor, except maybe for the bosses pay.

I bank with RBS and i find it somewhat bemusing that when I checked online before posting this . I noticed that any cash I have withdrawn today from a Atm shows along with online payments I have made. However the cash I paid in last Friday does not show. Would anyone in banking care to explain this mystery? as it isn’t the first time this has happened.This software upgrade naturally works in their favour suprised no.

@digital, Did you pay the cash in on Friday after 15:30 ? If so you would have missed the batch run that occurred Friday night and the transaction should be in Monday’s (i.e tonights).

FYI for all the hype of banks trying to show they’re with the times e.g. mobile/contactless banking, most of there hardware and process will still look very similar to what they had in the 70s/80s or if you’re lucky the 90s.

I thought the rule now was for all transaction to show within 24 hrs instead of the 3 days or so we used to get?

Walking past a NatWest branch in Norwich the other day I saw a large “Sorry” notice posted in their window. It apologised to customers for any inconvenience caused by what it called “recent technical issues”. This language is repeated on its website. Is this euphemistic twaddle the best that one of our biggest banks can come up with after a week of media humiliation, customer outrage, massive default, and real misery for millions? They should call it what it was – a total collapse of their data processing and funds transfer systems. Mere “technical issues”! I suppose they were busy while the debacle inexorably turned into a calamity protecting themselves from a run on the bank as soon as normality resumed.
In answer to the FAQ on their website “What was the root casue and how can you guarantee this will not happen again?

. . . contiuation of the above :-

Is this a result of inadequate IT systems or outsourcing IT staff?” the bank’s P R people offer this pusillanimous reponse : “We are currently fully focused on resolving all issues relating to this incident. On resolution of these, we’ll turn our focus to reviewing all our processes and actions connected with the cause of the incident to help us learn from it and prevent future issues.” There’s that word “issue” again. No hope, is there?

@john, I heard on the news that during the software upgrade they noticed things were running slowly ( don’t ask why that wasn’t highlighted during testing – as it pokes fun at their testing policy). They then backed the change out, only to notice something like 20 million transactions (I can;t remember the exact figure) had been deleted, and had to be checked and re-input by hand. (don’t ask questions about that – as it pokes fun at their woefully poor backup strategy).

It would seem that the 20 million is the entire days batch (oops). Again why there was a backup of it who knows.

I have heard the finger of blame falls on 1 individual based in Scotland. Although to me that could the 1 person who decided to outsource.

Hope that helps.

Thanks for your comments william. I’m glad I’m not with NatWest having to put up with all that helpful banking.

In my 7.13 pm post [above] I didn’t mean to type “root casue”. It sounds like a cross between a potent drug and a primitive musical instrument. It certainly made my words come out funny.

Anyone who is unfortunate enough to have a loan/mortgage with RBS/Natwest etc please be aware and check your bank account


And good luck

Hi William as regards my earlier post I paid the cash in the morning, when I checked this morning it had been credited. This has happened before

Hi digital, paid in at the same branch ? That just smacks of very slow / poor procedures at the branch. It sounds like your payment got overlooked/misplaced hence missed the update run that night. Maybe a word with the branch manager or email to customer services asking them to explain the reason(s) for the delay. Good luck

Snowdin says:
3 July 2012

VirginOne, owned by RBS, is also affected but has not been publicised. I have been able to use my debit card, and access the VirginOne website, but at the time of writing 2 items are missing on my transaction list. One is a deposit I paid a week ago by Visa Debit, and the other my monthly State pension which was sitting there greyed out ready to be paid on the 27th June then completely vanished. They have been very helpful in that we are all agreed on what is missing but uncertain exactly when the transactions will show up accurately.
I’m not sure exactly what the problem was but Tesco Bank was running on RBS computer systems when there was a system change over last year and another complete fiasco evolved. Then I was unable to log into my savings account for 4 weeks. Again initially there was denial of a problem, then the pretence it was fixed when most clients knew very well that it wasn’t, and access to help and information only on understaffed premium rate lines that often took up to an hour to be answered. Eventually they released an 0800 number and an email address to contact.
No lessons were learned, as we have come to expect.

Paul says:
5 July 2012

I am currently serving in Afghanistan and until recently though I had been unaffected by the Nat West issues. All my payments went out as planned and I got paid at the end of June as per usual.
However the last time I went to check my balance my current account no longer exists. And a card payment I tried to make online was refused. I have had 10 years of impeccable banking with Nat West and have all my money and mortgage with them. I’ve managed to log an electronic complaint already. Phone time is quite hard to come by out here (internet isn’t much better). I am extremely concerned as there are a lot of direct debits due that I assume are now going to go unpaid with the relevant parties unable to get in touch with me. I will be endeavouring to call their centre as soon as I get a chance.

bob the builder says:
9 July 2012

we have been having seroius problems getting new customer login & activation codes, 30 days & counting! our existing login details were compromised & Nat West fraud withdrew our details & we were advised to reapply, as yet nothing. the only way we can access our account is via a branch or our relationship manager. We didnt even know we had one & to date he has been hopeless. Why can’t these details be sent by courier, next day delivery & trackable, what could be easier. Over 20 calls to various departments, all monitored to improve service, ha ha. Other people must be having the same grief, anyone?

Adam says:
10 July 2012

Fines don’t work because the banks just pass them on to consumers, goverements are scared of the banks because of their financial clout… consumers/customers are the only people with the power to sort this mess out, if we don’t punsih them for their persistant failures by leaving then the same thing will happen at another bank then another because they are not accountable for their actions. Don’t forget its the banks that caused the global reccesion in the first place, now the euro close to collapse! They need to be broken up into smaller more managable businesses so when one bank fails it doesn’t bring down the whole economy!

All NW customers should go to their nearest farm & collect a bucket of animal manure & at a country-wide prearranged time & date take them to their nearest branch and tip the contents over the counter/s.
This can be repeated at frequent intervals until they change their ways.
This tactic can be copied by the customers of other banks.

They behave like merchants of c**p – well let them have some.

Although a joke Terry, and I’m sure most readers would understand it as such, please try not to make comments that suggest illegal activity. Thanks.