Monday 25 June 2012

UK: Bank branches run out of money

UK: NatWest customers fear running out of food and electricity
NatWest's online forum becomes a diary of disillusionment as those unable to go to the bank's branches run out of money

24 June, 2012

Customers affected by the NatWest fiasco are venting their fury on the bank's online customer forum, which has became a diary of distress, distrust and disillusionment.

Some feared running out of food and electricity as they were unable to physically get to the bank's branches to withdraw cash. Others claimed if direct debits went unpaid, homes and holidays, theatre and gig tickets, even weddings were at risk from missed payments. And with some still unable to access online accounts on Sunday afternoon, there were calls for compensation.

The posts indicated the breadth of the disruption across the UK, and the knock on effect on those who were not themselves customers.

"You have stuffed us," wrote philsmiler, from near Corby, Lincs, on the NatWest forum. "We have to attempt to get to your bank in the morning. I'm disabled in a wheelchair and my daughter's autistic but we have to as we have no food left and electric on less than 50p. Family of 6 it's unfair and ridiculous".

"I should of been paid Friday," wrote nothing left from the Midlands. "I have cancer and I'm very ill at present. I'm down to my last pence and can't afford electric meter".

"When will this be sorted out," pleaded Barrow, from Rickmansworth. "I have my wedding next Saturday. Will we have food to eat as I can't pay caterers and disco, so no money, no wedding. thank you".

"Mum was relying on her pension on Thursday, she's 74 and she couldn't access her account or savings for money. I travelled 32 miles to give her the pension money, and I'll have to travel another 32 to get it back off her. Shame on you's for all of this," was another contribution.

Anger remained the overwhelming emotion, with many spelling out the extreme disruption caused to their daily lives.

"Unable to get petrol yesterday and missed a full day's work which will be unpaid, very unhappy," said one from Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.

"I only have enough diesel to get to work 50 miles away. I have no money in the bank until tomorrow which will enable me to get back home. Will my wages be in my account? inquired another, from Portsmouth.

Some suggested physically taking payslips into NatWest branches as proof to withdraw cash. Others, on benefits which had not registered as being paid, would be unable to do so. "Not had any money in my account since Friday, carers allowance, child tax credit. Went into bank who told me they can't give me any money if it does not show on my balance, so how to they expect me to buy food."

Others were concerned about incurring penalty charges for late payments.

"Can't pay credit card, got £12 charge, NOT GOOD. Got D/D going out soon will these be affected?" wrote a customer from Kent, who called for a gesture of goodwill from NatWest '"to all its inconvenienced customers who could receive charges from 3rd parties due to 'lack of funds'".

By 11am on Sunday one employer from Harlow was "still trying to pay 8 guys wages from Friday, most are young lads that rely on this money".

A customer from south Gloucestershire complained his mobile phone had been "cut off because you have not honoured my direct debits from both my business and personal accounts".

The bank's extended opening hours, including opening on a Sunday for the first time, did little to appease many. "Absolutely pathetic," wrote Ken from Warrington. "I don't even bank with NatWest but my wages are paid out of it. It's not as if I can go into a branch and ask for money. Why was there no back up system in place?"

A another bemoaned: "Still can't access account online. Am in Bulgaria… obviously I can't get to a local branch."

One resident of Aberdeen wrote: "After an 11-minute call to the premium-rate 0845 call centre number I was assured that Aberdeen's only branch of NatWest would be open Saturday . After an 18 miles round trip I found it was not open at all. LIARS. Next branch is Dundee – 60 miles away."

Some, however, managed to remain sanguine. "No pension, no gas, no electricity. However, things have been worse in life and I am not dying. Mistakes happen to everyone," wrote a contributor, from West Cornforth, County Durham.

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