Natwest slammed for "technical glitch" smokescreen

Natwest and RBS have said this morning that customers will still be experiencing problems with their banking as there are “once again” “technical issues” with the systems.  While a software glitch has now apparently been fixed, there is a backlog which may not be resolved until Monday.

Customer patience is running out, while experts have said the group is “hiding behind a smokescreen”.

The pair, which are part of the tax-payer owned RBS Group, have been having problems since Wednesday, when customers were left unable to pay their bills or move money around.

A number of customers took to a range of forums complaining that they had not received wages and that bills hadn’t been paid – meaning they would incur late payment charges from the companies out of pocket.

Yesterday, the group blamed a computer glitch and announced that it would be keeping branches open until 7pm to help with the problems. It also promised that “no customers would be permanently out of pocket as a result of this”.

However, today many people are still in the same boat as the group issued another statement this morning, which said: “Unfortunately we are once again experiencing technical issues with our systems and account balances have not updated properly overnight.

“This means where money has gone into a customer’s account, there may be a delay in it appearing on their balance.

“We can assure our customers that this problem is strictly of a technical nature and we continue to work hard to resolve this.

“We also recognise this is an unacceptable inconvenience for our customers, for which we apologise.

“Staff in our branches and at our call centres are ready and available to answer any questions and help where they can.”

TechEye asked the press office if it could embellish on the “technical glitch” but were advised there were no details at present.

The statement has done nothing to appease customers who have described the lack of transparency and service as the “final nail in the coffin”.

One disgruntled customer told Techeye: “As a Natwest customer of course I am affected by this. I have not exactly had a great experience with Natwest anyway – they seemed to take a lot of joy in charging me fee after fee when I was in a financially vulnerable situation – so I don’t have much sympathy for them. Although my pay hasn’t been affected I am worried as the situation has been going on for over 24 hours now.”

The customer pointed out that he’d not been notified of the seriousness of the problem until he tried to check a statement and saw that it was ‘unavailable’.

“I wasn’t aware it was affecting a lot of people until I checked some forums,” the customer added.

“What do I make of it? I think it’s probably a glitch in the system,” the customer said. “However the way Natwest has acted about it is not good enough. They can admit it’s “unacceptable” all they want but there is zero transparency as to what is happening.

“Natwest should be providing transparency. The company is nothing without its customers. I’ve been considering moving banks for a while now and this is the nail in the coffin”.

Another customer said: “Natwest seriously need to fix this problem. They can’t expect people to sit without money until they sort this out. Unless shops start to give out free food no customer will stand for it.”

Experts agree that the group should be pulling its finger out. A software veteran said, speaking with TechEye: “Yet again major IT infrastructure based in the UK has failed at Natwest.

“This leaves thousands without access to benefits and wages. The explanation; ‘Technical Issues’. In other words the usual smoke screen.

“Is this good enough? Complex systems have been around for half a century. Hardware simply does not fail these days. The real reason – human error and poor quality software”.

Speaking with TechEye, Jay Sappidi, senior director, CAST Research Labs, a company that claims it is built on software quality, said:”Outages like this affect customers in the short term and brands over the longer term. As software is becoming integral to running the core business functions and getting more complex every day. Recently in the US we have seen more of these high profile outages, for instance at NASDAQ and BATS. But this is a global issue.

He continued: “It is simply unacceptable to implement poor quality code changes, whether that code is from an enterprise application or home grown. The tragedy is that most, if not all, of these issues can be anticipated with simple code quality processes, which have been developed over the half century of computing.

“Software is complex and getting more so, but admiring the emperor’s new clothes, does not solve the underlying problems,” Sappidi said, “because clearly what lurks within complex systems can out with dramatic effect”.