NatWest opens on a Sunday for the first time

Ben Southwood
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STUDENT Haris Khan visited the London Bridge branch of NatWest yesterday, as it opened on a Sunday for the first time ever, but he came away dissatisfied.

The third year accounting and finance student at the London School of Economics described his experience as “frustrating” after being unable to pay his rent, and instead told to return today.

A second customer complained an urgent transfer couldn’t be processed. Another confessed he’d just gone in to use the cash machine; the “glitches” hadn’t affected him at all.

London Bridge NatWest, open from 9am to 12pm yesterday, saw a slow but steady flow of customers, yet only a small proportion saw their problem solved.

Some turned up to try to process transactions they had been unable to carry out, but found that bank branches, using the same computer system, were unable to help.

Across the country some 1,300 branches, roughly half the total, opened to help deal with problems created by the software update the RBS group tried to implement on Thursday. This included some 900 out of 1,600 NatWest branches, with the remainder made up by RBS and Ulster Bank.

The group also extended hours on Friday and Saturday, doubled call centre staff and will open branches 8am to 7pm today.

A staff member at London Bridge commented that it hadn’t been particularly busy, despite the problems.

The staff noted that clients were largely understanding about the problem, and didn’t blame branch-level employees; their ire was focused on boss Stephen Hester and senior execs.

Q and A: The Natwest debacle in brief
Q Will any customers face fees or charges due to the effects of the so-called glitch?

A All fees and charges are automatically to be waived, and any that are actually charged will be refunded.

Q Will people who miss payments see a deterioration in their credit rating?

A The bank has promised to deal with any issues in this area, liaising with the credit scoring agencies, so no customer that misses a payment due to the problems sees any hit to their credit rating.

Q Will any account holders who have to incur costs or borrow money due to lack of access to their account end up in deficit?

A The RBS group has said it is committed to making sure no individual ends up out of pocket.

Q What times will Natwest branches be open today?

A Branches are planning to have extended opening hours of 8am to 7pm.

Q When will the situation revert to normal for customers of Natwest and RBS?

A While the group is still working through the backlog generated during Thursday and Saturday, they expect and plan to have the situation back to normal by the end of today. Some customers have already reported full functionality for their online banking accounts.