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28 Feb 2022

Nationwide customers hit by outages - what are your rights?

The building society has had four faster payment problems in recent months
A Nationwide branch

Some Nationwide customers have been hit with a string of issues in recent months which have left them unable to make payments.

Frustrated customers reported having to wait for their wages just days before Christmas on 22 December and others complained when direct debits bounced.

The UK's largest building society experienced a similar issue on 31 December and on Tuesday 4 January the building society introduced a queueing system after a surge in payments on the first working day of the year which led to renewed anger from customers.

And in February, a 'technical issue' caused a delay to faster payments which meant they were temporarily queued again.

This has led to disgruntled loyal customers questioning whether they should switch accounts and others trying to get compensation for any losses they've had.

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What is the latest issue?

On 28 February, Nationwide apologised after customers were hit with a technical glitch.

Nationwide told Which? there was a delay to its faster payments and transactions were being temporarily queued.

This issue is not affecting Bacs payments, which means direct debits and standing orders will be unaffected.

A spokeswoman said all other services were working, and members could continue to use their cards, access internet banking services and withdraw cash from ATMS.

She said: 'No member will be left out of pocket as a result of this issue and all associated Nationwide fees and charges will be refunded. We apologise for any inconvenience caused'.

What do customers say?

Some customers claimed the issues last year caused them to get charged fees from bounced direct debit payments and were worried if a missed payment would impact their credit score.

Kathleen Reid told Which? in December she was forced to cancel services and left with no cash to buy food.

Clare Muir from Gloucestershire has banked with Nationwide since 2007. She told Which? she has always been 'very happy' with the service but is now thinking of switching due to the ongoing issues.

She said she felt 'vulnerable' when the issue happened in December as she was waiting for money. Her mortgage, credit card, current account and savings accounts is with Nationwide.

u201cIf it was a one-off it would have been fine but its happened subsequent times which makes me think 'have they got a handle on this?', she said.

'I haven't really seen any communications from them providing updates. Tell me what's wrong, what you are doing and why it won't happen again.

'I don't want all my eggs in one basket anymore and I'm actively searching around. I'm a loyal customer but three times in the space of two weeks is pretty bad.'

Nationwide 'sorry for inconvenience'

In December, Nationwide said normal services resumed as 'quickly as possible' and they have specialist teams in place to ensure 'no members would be left out of pocket'.

A spokesman added: 'We apologise for the inconvenience caused, particularly at such a busy time of the year.

'As a member-owned organisation, members can be sure that our focus on service always takes centre stage.

'In 2018, we began a multi-billion-pound investment in our technology and systems leading to even greater reliability and functionality for the direct benefit of our members. However, we know that any type of delay in an age where we expect access to our money 24/7 is unhelpful and inconvenient.'

Nationwide pays £60 compensation

The building society has paid customers affected by issues on 4 January £60 in compensation.

Around 20,000 customers' direct debits failed due to Nationwide introducing a queuing system for payments.

Nationwide said it has contacted these customers and compensated them.

A spokesman added: 'We apologise for the inconvenience caused. Any member who experienced additional issues as a result of recent payment delays can contact us to discuss their circumstances.'

The building society stressed this compensation was available to customers affected on 4 January and not the two previous incidents in December.

Are you entitled to compensation?

If you were left out of a pocket as a result of the three glitches then you should raise a complaint with Nationwide.

Complaints can be made online using its online complaints portal.

Make sure you include details about the losses you suffered as a result of the outage and what you want the bank to do to put things right. This could include the amount of compensation you expect and when you expect to be compensated.

If you are unhappy with the response you receive, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The FOS will look at the facts, ask questions and make a decision on the fairest course of action.

The FOS says you can claim for losses you incur in the event of a bank's IT outage - but the success of any claim will depend on your own individual circumstances.

Read our guide for more information on taking a financial complaint to the FOS.

What should you do if it happens again?

If you are unhappy with the customer service you have received from Nationwide, you could consider switching bank accounts.

You can switch your bank account in just seven working days if the provider is part of the switching service. You can search by name here on the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) website.

We have a guide on switching bank accounts on the steps to follow, including the best days to switch and what to do if something goes wrong.

We also regularly review the best current accounts on offer and the best and worst banks.