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Making a complaint to RBS/NatWest

  • Technical hitch affects millions NatWest/ RBS and Ulster Bank customers in March 2013
  • Second time NatWest customers have been hit by bank IT failure in a year
  • Follow the advice from Which? to ensure you're fully compensated and not left out of pocket

NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Ulster Bank customers have been hit by a second IT failure in a year, leaving them unable to withdraw cash and using their debit cards. 

This first happened in June 2012, when 12 million customers were left unable to access their money for more than four days. Some were left overdrawn as a result. 

RBS has apologised for the error. A spokesperson said: 'We are disappointed that our customers have faced disruption to banking services for a period this evening, and apologise for that. All services are now running as normal again.

'This problem was caused by a hardware fault and was not related to the issues we experienced last summer. It was much easier to fix, though clearly an unacceptable failure.'

'If any customers are having continued difficulties please call on 0845 7242424 if an RBS customer or 0845 7888 444 if a NatWest customer so we can resolve their issues.'

Advice for NatWest/RBS customers

1. Lodge a complaint with NatWest/RBS as soon as possible

Let NatWest/RBS know that you've been affected. Give your bank a detailed account of any costs that you have incurred or payments that have been missed - both to and from your account. Also, be sure to stress the impact on you of any distress or 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 hasn't done this in that time or you're not satisfied with the response, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service

If you would like to make a complaint, NatWest and RBS have dedicated areas to complain on their websites.

NatWest complaint letter template

RBS complaint letter template 

Advice for non-NatWest customers

If you're not a NatWest customer yourself but have been affected by the technical difficulties, follow the advice below:

1. 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).

2. Contact your own bank

Other banks should treat customers who are impacted by the NatWest problems positively and sympathetically. For example, you may have problems if you were due to have your wages paid from a NatWest account and they haven’t turned up. In the first instance, you should contact your own bank and ask for it to show some flexibility and to waive any charges.

3. Consider complaining to NatWest

There is nothing to stop you complaining to NatWest yourself, but the bank may not have to consider these complaints as you are not a NatWest customer.

If you would like to make a complaint, RBS recommends that you do so via your own bank. When RBS experienced IT problems in June, it said would work closely with other banks to ensure that people are compensated for any financial loss. 

Advice from the Financial Ombudsman Service

According to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) banks are obliged to return affected customers to the position they should have been in had the problem not occurred.

Customers will not automatically be entitled to extra compensation for the disruption, but in June 2012 FOS advised customers to keep a record of how the problems have affected them in case they need to complain at a later date.

Can I claim compensation?

Although a court can't award compensation for any distress or inconvenience that you may have suffered as a result of the problems encountered with Natwest or RBS, there are some circumstances where you may want to consider asking for compensation.

For example, if you encountered issues that were over and above just having to put things right.

In other words, this really was a stressful situation, or you've found your dealing with Natwest problematic in trying to put things right. In these instances you may also want to consider asking for compensation for the distress and inconvenience caused.

The Financial Ombudsman Service may make awards to cover distress and inconvenience but the amount will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.

Be careful of bogus RBS and NatWest emails

When NatWest experienced problems in June 2012, there were been reports of people receiving bogus emails purporting to be from RBS's boss Stephen Hester.

The email asked customers to click on a link to a realistic looking NatWest website and update their details. But anyone doing so could be enabling fraudsters to access their account and steal their money.

Banks do not send emails asking for personal information, no matter what the circumstances. Banks advise that you contact their helpline or a local branch if you need assistance.

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