/ Money

Should banks pay up when they mess up?

A couple of days ago, HSBC customers were fuming when a technical glitch meant many were unable to use their debit cards or withdraw cash from ATMs. But should HSBC have to pay them compensation?

According to the bank, a ‘hardware problem’ left a ‘small minority’ of HSBC customers unable to carry out any transactions. The blackout lasted around four hours, and a quick trawl through Twitter highlights the chaos it caused.

Elspeth Hardie (@Eahardie) complained, ‘Thank you @hsbc_uk_press for NOT letting me access my OWN money and totally humiliating me in public! Don’t worry I just won’t eat tonight!’

BE Usergroup (@Beusergroup) said, ‘Thanks for that guys. It is great going to collect take away and then be unable to “take it away” due to inability to pay!’

It’s cheap to say ‘I’m sorry’

But is bashing HSBC for a technical error making a mountain out of a molehill?

To their credit, our banks’ complex IT infrastructure usually works seamlessly, allowing us to carry out our banking needs without a hitch.

HSBC also took quickly to social networks to say that it was ‘very sorry’ for the inconvenience. But this act of attrition was missing one thing: a commitment to compensate anyone who found themselves out of pocket as a result of the bank’s failure.

For example, if you had to find an alternative means of paying for something on Sunday, you could well have spent more money than you were planning to. If you had to turn to a credit card, you may have incurred some interest charges. Or if you resorted to taking cash out with a credit card, you’d have to pay interest and an additional withdrawal fee.

And what about costs that don’t come with a receipt for evidence? For example, if someone drove out to a restaurant to pay for your meal because your card didn’t work?

Quick to take, slow to give

Banks are pretty quick to charge us when we make an error. I dealt with one Which? member last month who had to pay his bank £30 simply to write to another customer he’d mistakenly sent money to. Not to mention the extortionate fees you have to pay if you exceed your overdraft limit, even by a small amount. So shouldn’t it go both ways?

Were you affected by the blackout on Sunday? Are you out of pocket as a result? And should HSBC be encouraged to compensate its customers who were negatively affected?


Is this a trick question?

Most complex services will fail from time to time, so we should not blame a bank unless they do significantly worse than their rivals. Commonsense dictates that we should all have a contingency plan to cope with unexpected problems. I went out without my wallet today but it was not a problem because I keep a £20 note well hidden in the car.

If a bank makes a careless mistake that costs a customer money then there is certainly a case for compensation and an apology.

When it comes to levying ‘charges’ onto customers the banks are merciless. One of the biggest frauds in recent times is the ‘mis-selling’ of PPIs, by the banks. We are in the middle of a recession solely created by the greed of those who control the Banks, I watch colleagues business fold daily, because the banks refuse to support them.
The bankers pay themselves £millions, whilst overseeing the deliberate destruction of economies, families, businesses and individual lives.
And we are expedited to forgive them when they make a mistake?
Any error committed by a bank, no matter how small I treat them exactly the same way they treat me, I demand monies from them.

josie says:
1 August 2013

Should banks be made to pay for harrassing customers after a mortgage is paid and how much?
Why should they hang onto deeds for 8 -9 weeks after 3 formal reqauests for these when it only takes less than two weeks to buy a house and how much compensation should be paid? culprit is Barclays /Woolwich

Michel Khan says:
4 March 2014

Bank Error causing major distress
My Lender insisted that my house deposit was electronically transferred by CHAPS commonly used as in our case to transfer a house deposit to my Solicitors holding account.On the day of exchange i was informed that funds had not arrived.Naturally we were in distress as the seller could have withdrawn from the sale.and our life savings were “missing”The money appeared the following week after threatening a complaint to the ombudsman.I have processed a complaint since and they have offered 300 pounds.The excuse made was that HSBC their clearing house (and coincidentally my bank) performed a security check.My lender Nationwide had already performed all necessary security checks for the purpose of mortgage lending already so what right did they have to delay a time bound legitimate transaction? No apology, insulting compensation and the most stress that i have ever experienced.Any advice on taking this further appreciated ,I am still furious and would not want anyone to go through this.Banks only real value is the safety of money and in this regard they should be held accountable.

Hi i know this is an old post, but wondered if you ever took your matter further ? i recently was exchanging and completing same day on house purchase and a well known bank sent my money ( large amount 000000) by chaps with wrong acct number, so money was missing – after i was told it had been recovered and chaps pymt being redone –
i demanded following morning they pay my deposit money out of their account . i was all packed up and out of property just waiting for call ….. didnt complte until following day due to this.

I went to an ATM this weekend, tried to withdraw money, the funds were taken from my Santander account, but no cash was dispensed. On top of this, I have to wait 3 days for my money back. Why can I not charge my bank £30 or the ATM owner for taking a certain amount of my cash from me, unauthorised?

They would definately charge me if it were the other way around. To top it off, and to my utter disbelief, I then went to purchase a jacket online the same night, and went via paypal. That money too went from my account, and shows up at Paypal as being paid, but the Store I bought the jacket from knows nothing of the transaction.

Who is to blame for that? Now I am looking at £160 of my money missing, that I have to go without whilst this gets sorted out. Surely, I must be due compensation of some kind for that?

My bank made a duplicate payment into my account, i have noticed now i am £40 overdrawn on my account, can i claim this back, clearly a member of staff has made this payment by mistake, so why should i owe them, the staff clearly need proper training,so stressed out its nreal

Have you asked your bank to explain the position, D Beaman? If a bank has undeniably made a mistake they are usually good in putting it right.

A bank put a marker of upaid debt after my bancruptcy in error, so for 5 years it has effected me re building my credit rating. can i make a claim against them?

Angie says:
31 August 2020

Hi Craig,
Wonder if you got anywhere with this? Did you successfully manage to get compensation from the bank? I’m in a similar situation now.

Craig says:
27 August 2020

My debit card hasn’t worked in ATMs for 5 years even my new cards don’t work, could I be compensated for this inconvenience?

Craig – Assuming (a) you always used the correct PIN, and (b) had an adequate balance whenever you tried to use the debit card, you could be offered a goodwill payment for payment failure, but only if you have reported the problem to your bank or building society and given them a chance to fix the problem. Does the card work in shops?

Hi. My bank has written to me in January 2021 to say I hadn’t replied to a letter they had sent me in December 2012 offering to pay an amount of approx £1,500 to resolve a PPI complaint. Despite having a current account with them, in use nearly daily, I haven’t changed my address, contact number or email address in over 12 years. They haven’t made the slightest effort to contact me, and I rather think they are clearing the books after the ending of the PPI fiasco. I’m absolutely furious as this money would have been extreme welcome over some difficult times I’ve had over the past eight years. Do you think that I should be asking for simple interest of 8% yearly to calculated on this amount? I would welcome your comments and thoughts.

Yes, Ella, I expect your bank is trying to clear its books and wind up its exposure to PPI compensation liabilities.

Given that you, allegedly, did not reply to your bank’s offer of a settlement I am not sure why you complain that they have waited over eight years to contact you. I think it is rather good that the bank has not written off your claim and is still willing to settle it.

Perhaps the bank’s original letter did not reach you, but even so you must have been waiting for a response to your claim and yet did not follow it up. It is now over a month since their recent letter so I would suggest that you respond as a matter of urgency. You might be entitled to compound interest at the prevailing deposit account rates over the period.

Ella are you sure this isn’t a scam? I had a PPI call only a couple of months ago and told the caller he was a bit late.

To be on the safe side, contact your bank by a trusted email or phone number rather than what has been sent to you.

yes banks should compensate customers for their errors and inconvenience and humiliation especially since customers trusting them is imperative to them handling their finances and telling you you are wrong this is the second time this bank has made a mistake at this customers expense that is the worse thing not being able to use your debit or credit card due to the bank’s error is very embarassing