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Exclusive: NatWest and RBS reveal refund process following IT meltdown

Royal Bank of Scotland has today announced the reclaiming process for the millions hit by charges after its IT meltdown, which we can exclusively reveal. The beleaguered bank will refund all charges for both its own customers and those of other banks as a result of the crisis, which still rumbles on.

This comes on the day the bank's boss Stephen Hester said sorry to MoneySavingExpert.com users hit by the crisis and also promised an investigation overseen by independent experts (see Stephen Hester's guest comment).

If you've been affected, whether you bank with group (which includes NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank) or not, see the relevant section of this guide for help:

What's happened?
I bank with RBS and I've been charged by RBS
I bank with RBS but have been charged by someone else
I don't bank with RBS, but I've been charged
I'm a Think Banking customer and I've been charged
Can I claim for lost time/distress?
How to manage my claim
What if I'm rejected?
How to protect my credit file

What's happened?

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Millions of NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank customers, all part of the larger RBS Group, are still counting the cost after a computer failure left them unable to see or use cash paid into their accounts over the past few weeks. Many couldn't make transfers out of their accounts either, as a result of the crisis which began overnight between 19 and 20 June.

Many non-customers were also hit, where they were expecting a credit from an RBS customer, such a wages where their employer banks with the group.

In addition, any of Think Banking's 100,000 customers who were expecting a credit between 20 June and 27 June may have been affected for the same reason. Think, which offers a type of basic bank account, is not part of the RBS Group but it uses its payment systems.

While the RBS/NatWest/Think problems are largely fixed, Ulster Bank customers may not have full facilities restored until next week (see the Ulster Bank delays MSE News story).

Hester says it is still unclear what exactly went wrong, and the bank will launch an investigation once the debacle is over, overseen by independent experts.

MoneySavingExpert.com creator Martin Lewis says: "RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers have suffered, and some are still suffering abominable stress caused by the computer screw-up.

"Therefore it's absolutely right of the RBS Group to put a proactive system in place to recompense those who've suffered loss on the back of it.

"Yet many people will have lost far more than the obvious bank fees and charges.

"For example, the customer who couldn't get to the airport and therefore needed to buy a new flight. I'd suggest all customers tot up their direct losses and if it isn't refunded directly, contact the bank and ask it for money back, so keep receipts.

"This applies to affected non-customers too, such as those who didn't get paid because their firm banks with RBS."

Below is what you can do if hit by charges or other costs as a result of the meltdown.

RBS Group customers with RBS charges

Why may I have been charged?

If your wages or another credit did not appear in your account in time, you may have been short of cash which meant you may have exceeded or gone into your overdraft, or been unable to pay bills.

You may have also been late where the transfer out was delayed, even if you had sufficient cash in your account.

What money can I get back?

Typical charges that are refundable include:

  • Overdraft fees (both for being overdrawn or exceeding your limit).
  • Overdraft interest.
  • Late payment fees and interest on mortgages, loans and credit cards.
  • Interest wrongly charged on late payments. When put right, it will be charged up to the day payment should have been made by.
  • Cash advance fees and interest on credit cards, where customers had to take out emergency money on their plastic.

You may also get lost interest back, such as:

  • Missing savings or current account interest where money paid in was delayed arriving. When put right, interest will be awarded as if all credits were made on 19 June.
  • Missing savings interest where customers had to withdraw cash where wages weren't paid.

RBS says it will refund ALL charges as a direct result of the computer meltdown.

You also may be able to reinstate the tax-free status of your cash Isa. If you've had to dip into an RBS Group Isa, the bank can manually reset its tax-free allowance to make sure you're not disadvantaged. It is unclear what will happen if you've taken money out of a non-RBS Isa, though RBS is talking to HM Revenue and Customs to get this resolved.

How will I get money back (RBS/NatWest)?

The following time-line applies to RBS and NatWest customers:

  • Bank charges between 19 June and 6 July. Wrongly-applied charges will be automatically refunded.
  • Bank charges after 6 July. If you believe you've been wrongly charged, make a claim (contact details below).
  • Interest. This will be automatically credited/refunded, as appropriate.
  • Isa money. You will need to contact the bank to reinstate the tax-free status.

Automatic refunds will be processed over the next couple of weeks.

RBS will send letters detailing those refunds by the end of July. Make sure you check that letter against all charges to ensure everything is refunded.

If not, keep the evidence and contact the bank to reclaim the cash.

How will I get money back (Ulster Bank)?

The same principles that apply for RBS/NatWest customers will apply to Ulster Bank. However, as the crisis for them is not over yet, it is unclear up to what point incorrect charges will be automatically refunded.

RBS will only announce this once normal banking services resume.

Who to contact

You can either walk into a branch, call your bank or go online.

Here are the relevant contact details:

RBS Group customers with charges from other banks/companies

Why may I have been charged?

Where you didn't have sufficient funds to pay a bill because credits going into your RBS accounts weren't showing, you may not have been able to pay other bills. You may have also been late where the transfer out was delayed, even if you had sufficient cash in your account.

Third parties, such as another bank or utility provider, may then have hit you with a late payment fee.

In some cases, people have incurred huge costs where they've had to buy something, not just where they've had a bank charge.

For example, we've heard of a someone who missed their flight from Bangkok as they couldn't get out any cash to pay to get to the airport. They had to buy a new plane ticket.

Others have been unable to complete a house purchase, which could trigger a whole host of costs.

Some may have had to get a friend or relative to use a fee-charging money transfer service to provide emergency cash.

What can I claim?

Typical charges include:

  • 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, where customers had to take out emergency money on their plastic.
  • Missing savings or current account interest where money paid in was delayed arriving.
  • Missing savings interest where customers had to withdraw cash where wages weren't paid.
  • Other costs such as new travel tickets and money transfer fees.

Of course, you may have another type of claim not included in the list above.

RBS stresses it will refund everything as a direct result of the crisis, if not refunded by the other party.

If you've had to dip into an RBS Group Isa for emergency cash, the bank can manually reset its tax-free allowance to make sure you're not disadvantaged. It is unclear what will happen if you've taken money out of a non-RBS Isa, though RBS is talking to HM Revenue and Customs to get this resolved.

What evidence do I need?

Keep all evidence of extra charges, such as bank statements and receipts, in case you're asked to prove it.

How can I claim?

  • Bank charges. If you've been wrongly hit by charges from another bank or building society, RBS says the other provider should automatically refund you. This is because the other major banks and building societies have agreed to treat those affected sympathetically. So contact the company in question.
  • Other service fees, such as late utility bill charges. Although RBS has not reached the same agreement with other service providers, it is also worth contacting them for a refund. If necessary, RBS says it will provide an explanation to the other organisation.
  • If you're rejected by the other firm. RBS says it will refund all costs as a direct result of the crisis, or work with other banks to provide the refund, if you contact it.
  • If you've bought something, such as a travel ticket. RBS says it will refund all costs as a direct result of the crisis if you contact it.

Who to contact at RBS

If you need to claim from RBS, you can either walk into a branch, call your bank or go online to start the process.

Here are the relevant contact details:


Non-RBS Group customer charges

Why may I have been charged?

If you were waiting for a credit from an RBS account that didn't arrive in time, you may have gone into or over your overdraft, or been unable to pay other bills.

Many workers whose employer banks with the RBS Group may not have got their wages on time, for example.

You may have incurred other costs, not just bank charges. Some customers have had to buy duplicate plane tickets where they had no money to get to the airport. Others have been unable to complete a house purchase, which could prompt a wave of unwanted expenses.

Some may have had to get a friend or relative to use a fee-charging money transfer service to provide emergency cash.

What can I claim?

Typical charges that are refundable include:

  • Overdraft fees.
  • Overdraft interest.
  • Late payment fees and interest on mortgages, loans and credit cards.
  • Late fees on your phone, broadband, TV or utility bill.
  • Cash advance fees and interest on credit cards, where customers had to take out emergency money on their plastic.
  • Missing savings interest where customers had to withdraw cash where wages weren't paid.
  • Other costs such as new travel tickets and money transfer fees.

Many other scenarios are not included in the list above, but the message from RBS is simple. It will refund everything as a direct result of the crisis, if not refunded by the other party.

If you've had to dip into an RBS Group Isa for emergency cash, the bank can manually reset its tax-free allowance to make sure you're not disadvantaged. It is unclear what will happen if you've taken money out of a non-RBS Isa, though RBS is talking to HM Revenue and Customs to get this resolved.

How can I claim it?

  • Bank charges. If you've been hit by charges by another bank or building society, RBS says the other provider should automatically refund you. This is because the other major banks and building societies have agreed to treat those affected sympathetically. So contact the company in question. It will be able to tell if the missing credit came from an RBS account.
  • Other service fees, such as late utility bill charges. Although RBS has not reached the same agreement with other service providers, it is also worth contacting them for a refund. If necessary, RBS says it will provide an explanation to the other organisation.
  • If you're rejected by the other firm. RBS says it will refund all costs as a direct result of the crisis, or work with other banks to provide the refund, if you contact it.
  • If you've bought something, such as an emergency travel ticket. RBS says it will refund all costs as a direct result of the crisis if you contact it.

What evidence do I need?

Keep all evidence of extra charges, such as bank statements and receipts, in case you're asked to prove it.

If your employer banks with RBS, any bank will be able to tell this by via the reference number on your statement, next to the entry detailing any payment of wages. You may need to show this.

Who to contact at RBS

If you need to claim from RBS, you can either walk into a branch, call your bank or go online to start the process.

Here are the relevant contact details:


I am a Think Banking customer. How do I get charges back?

Why may I have been charged?

Think customers can't incur overdraft charges, but may get a penalty fee from a third party. This could happen if you're late paying a credit card, loan, mortgage or utility because your account wrongly showed there wasn't sufficient cash, so the payment was rejected.

You may also have incurred a penalty where a transfer out failed, even where there were sufficient funds.

You may have incurred other costs, not just bank charges. Some customers have had to buy duplicate plane tickets where they had no money to get to the airport.

Others have been unable to complete a house purchase, which could prompt a wave of unwanted expenses.

Some may have had to get a friend or relative to use a fee-charging money transfer service to provide emergency cash.

What can I claim?

Typical charges that are refundable include:

  • Late payment fees and interest on mortgages, loans and credit cards.
  • Late fees on your phone, broadband or TV bill.
  • Cash advance fees and interest on credit cards, where customers had to take out emergency money on their plastic.
  • Missing savings interest where customers had to withdraw cash where wages weren't paid.
  • Other costs such as new travel tickets and money transfer fees.

Many other scenarios are not included in the list above. Think Banking says it will review each claim on a "case-by-case" basis but "it is our intention that customers who were impacted are not left out of pocket".

How to claim

Think says it will refund all fees and charges, though it is best to ask the company in question to cancel it first, if it's from a service provider.

RBS has reached an agreement with other banks and building societies to cancel fees, so this should happen. Although RBS has not reached the same agreement with other service providers, it is also worth contacting them for a refund.

If you get nowhere, or if you have another type of charge you need refunding, contact Think. This Think link has a claim form and contact details.

Keep all evidence of extra charges, such as bank statements and receipts, in case you're asked to prove it.

Monthly fee refund

Think charges 14.50 a month for single accounts and 21.25 a month for joint accounts.

All customers directly impacted by the RBS problems had their June fee refunded on 29 June, with the money going straight back into customers' accounts.

This group was defined as anyone who had a credit going in or out that was delayed.

Can I claim for lost time/distress?

The RBS Group is effectively trying to put you back in the position you'd have been in had the crisis not happened. It is not automatically offering additional compensation beyond refunding charges.

However, the Financial Ombudsman Service, which arbitrates on disputes between financial firms and consumers, says it sometimes awards money for distress and expenses.

For example, it can award up to 10/hour for lost time, though it stresses this is not assured.

So you could ask RBS for this too.

How to manage my claim

Many refunds will be automatic or straightforward so may only require limited evidence, such as a bank statement.

Nevertheless, it is important to keep all paperwork, especially where it is more complex because you have incurred indirect costs, such as having to buy new travel tickets where you've been stranded.

MoneySavingExpert.com creator Martin Lewis says: "Take notes of all costs incurred, both direct and indirect, so you're put back in the position you'd have been in without the problems.

"One bank may not know what another has charged, so it's all about record-keeping.

"You may also be able to claim for lost time or stress (see above) so keep records of how long it's taken you."

What if I'm rejected?

If you don't get what you ask for, RBS customers can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service after eight weeks of no resolution or if they've been rejected.

It is more complicated for non-customers as, technically, the Ombudsman can only deal with complaints where you have a direct relationship with the firm in question. Some may be able to complain about their own bank if it does not refund a charge when it knew the problem was due to the RBS meltdown.

The Ombudsman stresses it expects banks to deal with customers sympathetically. As they have agreed to do just that, it hopes not to have to intervene too much.

What if I've had a black mark on my credit file?

RBS says it will not report late payments to Experian, the agency it supplies late payment data to. Any late payments are likely to count against you if you apply for credit.

From Monday 16 July, customers can call RBS on 0800 656 9639 for a special code to get a free online credit report with Experian.

However, RBS can't control what other banks, building societies and mobile firms record on your credit file.

So ask any provider where you've made a late payment to not report it. They should be sympathetic.

Then check your credit file with the three agencies (Experian, Callcredit and Equifax) a few weeks later (see our Credit Rating guide for how to do it for free).

If you see a late payment that shouldn't be there, check our Credit Rating guide for how to get it wiped off.

If you have any other questions you want us to ask the RBS Group about refunds please post them in the discussion below. This story will be updated as more information comes to light.

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