RBS and NatWest customers face new technical woesPeople unable to withdraw cash or make payments

07 March 2013

RBS Natwest

Millions of NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Ulster Bank customers have been unable to withdraw money, use their debit cards or check their balances online after the bank had its second IT meltdown within a year.

RBS and NatWest customers unable to use cashpoints

Starting in the evening of 6 March, NatWest customers reported that they could not use a cashpoint and that their debit cards were being declined. 

Others reported an inability to check their online statements or use mobile banking.

Services resumed at 1am on 7 March, although many customers were still not able to access their cash. Find out your rights about the NatWest in our guide to dealing with NatWest's IT problems.

RBS couldn't explain the problems last night, although a NatWest customer services assistant said he believed that the problems were affecting the majority of UK customers. 

Apology from RBS

A spokesperson for RBS responded to the latest problems: '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.

'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.'

For a full directory of contact telephone numbers for the various banks RBS operate, visit the RBS directory.

RBS was unable to give details about why the service was affected and whether it stopped payments and direct debits being paid.

First meltdown in June 2012

This is the second time in less than a year that NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank customers have faced major problems when trying to manage their bank accounts. 

In June 2012, RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank had to extend opening hours at their branches to assist customers who had been unable to pay bills, move money or whose salaries had not been paid.

Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS, was forced to apologise at the time after millions of customers were left unable to carry out transactions or move their money around following a software update.

Which? view on the NatWest problems

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: 'Customers will be rightly angry at another loss of essential banking services.  RBS must quickly explain how affected customers will be compensated and what measures they are taking to ensure this doesn't happen again. 

'In the meantime people should keep hold of any evidence that they have lost out because of this error.'

'These problems yet again raise wider questions about how robust and up to date banks’ systems are.

'The banking industry has been allowed for too long by regulators to rely on sticking plaster to keep antiquated systems going rather than invest in modern and robust technology that is needed to give consumers confidence that they can always access their money - or move accounts - when they need to.'

Update on this story:

At 12.40pm on 7 March, RBS stated that: 'Between roughly 9-11pm customers were not able to access online banking and also had problems with ATM use and point of service payments. 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.'

'Any customer who was left out of pocket due to this outage should get in touch so we can put things right for them.'

More on this...