Ulster Bank outlines compensation scheme
The Ulster Bank has announced details of a compensation scheme for customers who were affected by a major computer failure over the summer.
It will reimburse all of what it terms "reasonable out-of-pocket expenses" resulting from the major disruption which affected thousands of customers.
It will be refunding charges placed on people's accounts in error.
Customers will receive £20 if they visited the bank from 19 June - 18 July and made a transaction.
This is a payment for inconvenience caused.
Others who were inconvenienced but did not visit the bank during that period are being urged to contact their local branch and explain how they were affected.
Thousands of customers were unable to withdraw cash or access their accounts after a software upgrade on 19 June.
The computer failure affected the entire Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) group, but Ulster Bank took longest to resolve the issue.
Ten weeks after the initial problem, the bank was still warning some customers that their statements may not be correct.
The Ulster Bank has given a commitment that no customer will be left permanently out of pocket.
- The bank said it would refund fees, charges and debit interest charged in error and correct any credit interest owed. This will happen automatically by the end of October.
- Reasonable out-of-pocket expenses will be paid back. Customers must claim and offer proof for this.
- The bank said credit ratings would not be permanently affected and they would offer a free credit report to anyone concerned about this.
- For inconvenience, the bank has offered the £20 payment, as well as a payment to those with savings accounts.
About half of the bank's 1.1m customers were impacted by the computer failure, which led to widespread criticism of the bank.
As a result, its chief executive Jim Brown said he would forego his bonus for 2012.
Announcing the compensation scheme on Friday, he said: "Once again, I apologise unreservedly to our customers and customers of other banks for the inconvenience this has caused and thank them for their patience as we worked to resolve this issue.
"We recognise that we have work to do to restore our customers' trust in us and we believe that this is the first step in that direction.
"We have worked with our key stakeholders to ensure the additional measures which we are taking provide a comprehensive response to customer concerns and demonstrate our commitment to making amends."
Customers seeking further information can go online, call into their local Ulster Bank branch or telephone 0800 231232.
One customer said: "They should have given £100. £20 is nothing as I was inconvenienced very much through direct debits and not being able to get my money out of the machine - having to queue in the bank and wait maybe an hour.
"It is ridiculous, given what customers went through for nearly two months, to offer them £20."
The Consumer Council said it had produced a fact sheet providing guidance on the type of expenses customers could claim for, including travel costs, telephone bills and non-financial losses such as stress.
Its chief executive, Antoinette McKeown, said Ulster Bank had to ensure this redress scheme compensated affected customers quickly, fairly and consistently.
"It is paramount that Ulster Bank communicates openly with its customers and takes the hassle of redress away from its customers," she said.
"Many Ulster Bank customers have had their daily lives severely disrupted throughout this summer and Ulster Bank need to restore customer confidence through this redress scheme.
"Throughout the crisis, the Consumer Council expressed frustration with issues of Ulster Bank's leadership, communication and clarity.
"We will continue to liaise with Ulster Bank and Financial Services Authority to ensure this redress scheme is working for affected Ulster Bank customers".
In a statement, Sinn Fein said: "This was not a compensation scheme by any stretch of the imagination, but simply a reimbursement scheme for people that have been charged as a result of the bank's failure to carry out its primary function.
"The fact that compensation for out-of-pocket expenses has been capped at £100 for all personal and SME's customers further reinforces that fact."
Earlier this month, the RBS said it had put aside £125m to pay compensation to customers affected by the computer problem.