More Ulster Bank misery



  • by Philip Bradfield and Adam Kula

Irate Ulster Bank customers were left without access to their bank accounts once again last night.

And some were left expressing fears about what the problem could mean for their Christmas preparations.

The technology meltdown appears to have affected the entire Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group, which includes NatWest and Ulster Bank.

Ulster Bank customers were reminding each other last night on social media of the nightmare situation they faced in July last year when similar problems hit them for almost a month.

A spokeswoman for Ulster Bank said last night: “We are aware of the technical issues being experienced by customers and are working to get them fixed urgently. We apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused.”

On Twitter, saver Stacey Holden said: “#ulsterbank please get it sorted this is all we need b4 christmas.”

John Birrane added: “#ulsterbank again. Absolutely unbelievable. How do they hope to survive as a 21st century bank?”

‘Keith For Belfast’ added: “They were so proud of their crisis management. Well.. let’s see if they actually learned anything. #ulsterbank.”

One News Letter reporter began to notice problems at around 8.45pm, and Ulster Bank’s Anytime phoneline was very busy with about a 15 minute wait to reach an assistant.

Once through, the message was there was a widespread problem with Ulster Bank cards.

It appeared there were also problems with online payments. This had been going on since about 7.15pm.

RBS shoppers right across the UK had their credit and debit cards declined on one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.

The meltdown came amid a day dubbed Cyber Monday, which is typically when the highest amount of online transactions are expected so shoppers can meet pre-Christmas delivery deadlines.

Customer reports indicated the problem was affecting the banks’ websites and smartphone apps as well.

Many Ulster Bank customers lost access to their accounts for almost a month in the summer of 2012.

On July 4 last year the News Letter challenged Ulster Bank chief executive, Jim Brown, as to whether he and his board would accept bonuses for that year. Mr Brown would not enter into discussions about the matter.

However, after the News Letter published his response as the main front page story on July 5 last year, he announced he would not be taking his money.

On July 23 last year the News Letter also exclusively revealed that staff in RBS’ India division may have had some responsibilities as part of an international IT team that was working on the computer system which suffered a catastrophic meltdown on June 19 last year.

The news came after key observers had challenged RBS as to whether cost-cutting in its British IT department and the outsourcing of computer positions to less experienced workers in RBS India might have been a factor in the meltdown.


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