NatWest, RBS, Coutts and Ulster say hundreds of thousands of delayed customer payments, including wages, benefits and other transfers, have now been paid following last week's problems. But if you've been hit with fees as a result, complain and ask for your money back.
Approximately 600,000 incoming and outgoing transactions were delayed between Wednesday and Friday (17-19 June) last week, evoking memories of the RBS Group's nightmare 2012 outage that saw millions unable to access cash for days or weeks.
The RBS Group, which encompasses the four banks, said on Friday 19 June that the problem was resolved, and we've not seen any reports today of people complaining about payments still missing.
But if you're affected, you can complain, or you can vote with your feet and switch bank. Here's our Q&A on what's happened and what you can do about it.
Please let us know whether you're still having problems on our forum.
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RBS glitch: Full Q&A
Q. What exactly happened?
A. Here are the key points:
- Approximately 600,000 Bankers' Automated Clearing System (Bacs) transactions did not go through on 17 or 18 of June – mainly bank-to-bank transfers and direct debits. Many of these were people's wages and benefits not being paid in.
- The issue was random and not customer- or location-specific. RBS says it processes around two million transactions per day.
- The issue also affected customer applications to switch their current accounts to and from RBS, as well as ISA transfers.
- On 19 June, RBS said it had resolved the payment issues and that accounts were updated on the morning of Friday 19 June. However we still heard reports that day that some wages and other credits to accounts had not come through.
- As of 22 June, we've not seen any continuing reports that payments are still delayed. But if you're fed up with RBS, see below for how to complain and see our Best Bank Accounts guide to find a better deal.
- RBS said card payments, ATM withdrawals and online banking continued to work.
Worried customers voiced their concerns on social media at the time. Here are some of their tweets:
- "@NatWest_Help. I haven't received my tax credit payment... could you confirm if NatWest is experiencing problems? – Sarah
- "Was so stressed when I checked our account this morning, why was there nothing on the NatWest website telling people about the problems?" – Susan
- "@NatWest_Help. No wages have gone in today, will these technical issues be sorted today? – Andy
- "@RBS_Help Are there problems with payments today? My Wednesday payment hasn't been put in." – Gillian
- "@NatWest_Help. No payments into account yesterday or today!!! When will they go in?" – Emma
Q. How do I know if I'm affected?
A. RBS says the issue is now resolved, but the best way to check if you are affected is to log in to your account now to see if any expected payments are missing or were paid in late, or if any payments due to be sent have not left your account or went out late.
If you were in the midst of switching current account or ISA, you may have noticed a delay, but RBS says this process will have continued as normal from Friday (19 June).
Q. My payments were sent/received late or are still missing/haven't been sent. What should I do?
A. If you've been left unable to pay bills or make a mortgage or rent payment, for example, contact the person or company involved immediately to let them know why there's been a delay, especially to ask not to apply any possible charges. Keep records as explained below.
Q. Can I get a refund of any fees or costs incurred?
A. RBS says it will ensure no one is left out of pocket following the meltdown, so you need to keep thorough records of any costs you incur as a result of the payments going missing. Keep bank statements and receipts, and even screenshots and photos, in case you're asked to prove it.
If you're an RBS customer, complain directly to it and say you want a refund (numbers listed below).
If you're not an RBS customer but you've been affected, for example you've gone into your overdraft or faced charges because money from an RBS account hasn't reached you, you should complain to your bank.
RBS says it is working with other banks to resolve the issue for their customers and adds that it will reimburse these customers via their individual banks.
The fees you could have been charged include:
- Fees for dipping into your overdraft.
- Costs for racking up lengthy phone calls to discuss the problem with RBS.
- Fees from third parties if they've not received a payment from you on time.
- Late mortgage, credit card and loan fees and interest.
- Late fees on phone, broadband, TV or utility bills.
- Cash-advance fees and interest on credit cards if you have to take out emergency money on plastic.
- Missing savings or current account interest if money paid in was delayed arriving.
- Missing savings interest if you have to withdraw cash because charges aren't paid.
- Other costs such as new travel tickets or money transfer fees.
These were all charges RBS repaid to affected customers in 2012. In 2012 it also repaid costs incurred by non-RBS customers as a result of the outage, but only where these were not picked up by the non-customer's own bank or building society.
Q. Will I get any compensation on top of a refund?
A. RBS says it will cover out-of-pocket expenses but if it receives any claims for compensation, it will review these on a case-by-case basis.
Q. If I don't have any cash due to the glitch, what can I do?
If you urgently need the money and it's still missing, contact your bank straight away by phoning or by going in branch.
RBS says temporary credit will be given out on a case-by-case basis. We've seen one report on Twitter of someone saying they'd been given an emergency cash withdrawal in branch.
Q. I'm worried this is going to affect my credit file; will it?
A. RBS says it is taking action to ensure no 'black marks' will be added to people's credit files and it will be proactively looking to resolve any credit file issues, without the customer having to contact it first.
However, if you spot that your credit file has been marked with any missing payments, for example, you should contact RBS to sort this out.
Q. How do I contact RBS, NatWest, Coutts or Ulster?
A. RBS: 03457 242424, NatWest: 03457 888444, Coutts: 020 7957 2424, Ulster: 0800 231232. Alternatively, go into your local branch.
Q. I'm fed up with RBS. What can I do?
A. If you're unhappy, you should complain to your bank. If this doesn't work, or you don't get a response within eight weeks, you should take your case to free Financial Ombudsman Service.
Alternatively, vote with your feet and switch bank. See our Best Bank Accounts guide to find out how to get deals, including £150 for switching, and in-credit interest of 5%.
Failures are 'concerning'
Andrew Tyrie MP, chairman of the Treasury Committee, said last week: "These failures should concern both the conduct and prudential regulators. I will be writing to the Chief Executive of RBS, the Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, and the Chief Executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority to obtain reassurance that the steps necessary to bring a halt to these failures are being taken."
Echoes of the 2012 meltdown
In 2012, then-RBS Group chief executive Stephen Hester, writing for MoneySavingExpert.com, was forced to issue a grovelling apology to customers.
Back then, a computer failure left millions unable to see or use cash paid into their accounts for weeks, which led to a £56m fine. Many couldn't make transfers out of their accounts, either. The bank had to roll out an unprecedented mass refund process to cover victims' costs.
What RBS has to say
An RBS spokesperson said on Friday 19 June: "We can confirm that the issues customers were experiencing in relation to delayed credits and debits have now been resolved and accounts have been updated.
"We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience and distress that this has caused our customers. If any customers are still experiencing issues please contact our call centres or come into a branch, where are our staff are ready to help.
"We will continue our work to make sure that no customer will be left out of pocket as a result of this issue."