RBS/ULSTER ‘GLITCH’: Slog survey of users plus analysis of the numbers raise further doubts.

The ‘problem’ that netted RBS an extra £73bn of liquidity

NatWest….saved by the bell?

A broad spectrum of NatWest/Ulster Bank customers and suppliers have raised new doubts about how and why last week’s RBS ‘glitch’ occurred. Also RBS’s current financial position doesn’t inspire confidence: and the ‘glitch’ gave the Group what might have been a vital windfall of £73bn in liquidity.

Yesterday, The Slog put out an appeal to those private and business users affected by the group’s Nat West/Ulster ‘computer problem’. I asked them to supply any and all experiences in recent times suggesting that this site’s suspicions about the explanation offered for hanging onto customer monies might be justified, or just pure conspiracy theory bollocks.

The inbox here in Slogger’s Roost has been busy ever since. The overwhelming finding from the input is that there seem to be problems in RBS that go way beyond pure technical snafu. I’ll start with two key quotes from business suppliers:

“In the last couple of months, particularly with Ulster Bank, the withholding of invoice payments has reached new depths. In one case, for work done in February, we are still working through the, ‘failed to raise a purchase order, raised an incorrect purchase order, missed some information on the PO, wanted the invoice readdressed, can’t pay because the payment system is down’. We are beginning to feel that this is moving beyond incompetent administration to a deliberate policy of holding back payments to suppliers. Won’t pay, or can’t pay. Neither are good characteristics for a major bank.”

“I work for a niche supplier of marketing services to NatWest. They have been at or near our insurance level of debt for months now, and the excuses for non-payment get sillier day by day. Nobody was surprised here when this ‘computer problem’ suddenly came up. In fact, our own bank rang us to request a meeting about our cash situation once they heard about the ‘glitch’. So if a rival bank has its suspicions, what else are we to think but the worst?”

The Slog long ago fingered RBS Group as by far the most wobbly UK banking consortium, but last week’s development was unexpected. What’s especially unusual in this case is that things are clearly so desperate inside RBS, even small business and private consumer problems were apparent before this ‘technical problem’ was announced. Again, a spread of anecdotes….but with the emphasis on those quotes showing IT expertise:

“We had trouble last week in that we were trying to fulfill a large order for a customer.  On Monday one of our suppliers called to say that our account with them was on stop due to an unpaid invoice.  On Friday we had the same call from another supplier.   A quick check of bankline on Monday showed that I had paid the debt in full.   However one of my payments had not reached the supplier’s account.  I also was certain that I had paid the second supplier in full as well but couldn’t access bankline until yesterday.   The first supplier demanded payment if the outstanding amount before they would release the order.  Which means we’re now out of pocket by £500. I first began to suspect that RBS/Nat West might be having liquidity problems several months ago when for a time our streamline payments were not being processed on time.  Usually they go into our account two days after they are taken from the customer but for several weeks there seemed to be delays in the processing some payments.  We would only get part of what we were expecting.”

“I’m an Ulsterbank customer (for what little I keep in there) so all I see is anecdotal. But this started early last week. I keep bugger all in my account and usually just enough to cover a few bills etc. Because of this the account sometimes goes overdrawn and I have an overdraft that has always been in place, not much but about €700, then last week this suddenly failed to work and caused a standing order to bounce. I didn’t think too much of it but in the context of the last few days is it pointing towards a bank with an acute cashflow problem?”

“A funny thing happened to me last Thursday at an RBS ATM in a suburb of Manchester. It restricted withdrawals to £50 and only paid out in old £5 notes.” (Several different versions of this one)

“I believe the curious and relevant events were RBS saying that they had ‘debugged’ and technically sorted the problems yet ‘normal service’ would not be resumed for well over 48 hours. This smacks of total back up failure or issues not related to the IT department.”

“As one previously involved in large corporate IT management, I can confirm that any IT department worth its salt would always have a roll-back position available and at least one ‘go/no-go’ check-point in the upgrade process. Such changes are always implemented outside prime-shift (overnight or weekends) to limit impact on concurrent operations and to enable the roll-back if necessary.

If it was the RBS IT Department’s fault, then one IT Director will surely be looking for a new job tomorrow – all bank’s IT folk are generally pretty good at that routine operational stuff, so I share the common view that there are other balls in play here.”

RBS yesterday said it would waive any overdraft fees or charges on current accounts, and the taxpayer-owned banking group allowed customers into 1200 NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank branches across the UK and Ireland on a Sunday for the first time. It is also set to extend opening hours until 7pm on Monday to help them with enquiries and access to cash. But none of this can explain why problems were apparent before the ‘glitch’ explanation was offered, and the massive coincidence of all these events having immediately followed a major credit agency downgrade of the Group.

What one can – and should – observe is that the cashflow savings created for RBS by this uniquely insoluble techno problem vastly outweigh anything it might offer the customer once the crisis has passed. Take a look at these numbers:

Income in March 2012 was down almost £1billion year on year. Credit adjustment losses quadrupled over the same period, and the loss before tax was ten times higher.

Further, according to Reuters daily statements last week, RBS cash assets stood at £82bn, whereas net loans were recorded as £476bn.

But this might be the clincher: total deposits came in at £476bn…exactly the same as loans. However, the difference between total assets and total liabilities was around £60bn in the bank’s favour. Given the amount of potential toxic write-off in the RBS group – and any ‘rush’ following a downgrade – it wouldn’t require much to change that positive into a disturbing negative. With total fluid assets standing at around £930bn, zero outgoings over five days of a ‘computer glitch’ would give the bank a £73bn windfall. More than enough to stave off a crisis, and at least temporarily restore creditor confidence, if such was needed. At the same time, of course, it physically barred the way to a run on the bank.

I don’t think this is the end of the matter: it might even be the start of some very nasty matter weeping from an infected wound. This morning, for example, the Daily Telegraph’s main headline reports that the ‘glitch’ that was over will in fact continue for another two days at least.

Stay tuned.

In other news today….



103 thoughts on “RBS/ULSTER ‘GLITCH’: Slog survey of users plus analysis of the numbers raise further doubts.

  1. They might have unwittingly now triggered a bank run. I noted today there was a article on the front page of the FT where Mills, from BoE, the ‘dove’ on the MPC is calling for another £50bn of QE.


  2. On the other hand, there is IT propaganda and reality.
    I think if it was public knowledge just how rickety some bank IT systems are….. patched together with duck tape and long-forgotten bodges….. you would not try any fancy transactions at all.

    Bank IT departments are often the blind leading the blind with old sub-systems that nobody left in the IT department has a clue about.


  3. It really doesn’t matter what RBS\Natwest say now, they are screwed either way,

    It’s either a technical glitch which shows complete failure of any disaster recovery plan/management system, which personally I find incredible even for an outfit as incompetent as RBS\Natwest. Even the SME I work for has a better disaster plan than these jokers, and that is a non-negotiable stipulation of our insurer.

    Or it’s the start of a major issue with liquidity and the bank has simply run out ideas and money, which has been on the cards for a while, It seems too much of a coincidence that this occurred the same day that the downgrade did. Be interesting to see what the markets think.

    Public perception of either of those two possibilities can lead to an orderly bank run and that’s without the added impetus that an angry resentful customer base can have to said run, which funnily enough can turn into a full fledged panic run in a very short time. Which nothing can stop when started.

    In FRB banking the only true currency is confidence, methinks RBS has just gone into the red. :-)


  4. I, spent about 9 months onsite at RBS at Angel and their corporate headquarters at the time when Compaq computers were the only PC’s to have, at that time no expense was spared on IT. Their systems worked and worked well, strict discipline was applied to all who worked in IT, they took it all very seriously.
    It looks now like things ain’t what they used to be….
    Anybody know, are they still using Unix?


  5. I had a serious run in with Nat West about 10 years ago. My answer was not to close our family accounts, but rather to move all our money elsewhere……save for leaving £1 minimum in each account. For years after, paper statements duly arrived monthly by post, along with all the expensive mailshots addressed to “Dear Valued Customer” which became excellent fire-lighters.

    If any Sloggers are pissed off customers of RBS/Nat West/Ulster this morning, may I highly recommend this form of gorilla warefare?…………it must have cost them a fortune….many times in excess of the sum that we were arguing about in the first place ! …Don’t get mad…get even folks !!


  6. I’m not so sure. Wasn’t it QE that was supposed to increase bank liquidity? Haven’t we seen several £hundred bn of that? Of course they are insolvent, but banks always are. It’s part of the banking con trick.


  7. Kfc,

    Although I doubt the public will not be told the truth (wikileaks where are you now we need you?) here is my two pennies worth.

    I think the problem arose, if it was in the IT arena in their legacy systems through an embedded bug (a disenchanted staff or ex-staff member has been known to leave sleepers) or a botched upgrade implementation.
    If it was in their PC based ‘online banking’ facilities in addition to the above two problems I would agree with the witty Slogger who referred to St. Petersberg as a good place to seek the causes of the ‘glitches’.


  8. As a form of defence it borders on surpassing hari kari in its effectiveness in promoting the longevity of the perpetrator. I’m surprised the rest of the downgradee’s haven’t followed suit in this form of mass bank suicide.

    I suppose the anecdotal effluence of axe grinders, conspiricists and bandwagon jumpers isn’t necessarily the best source of fact establishment, so maybe they’re waiting and seeing how successful it is as a savings vehicle.

    The end is nigh (again)


  9. Indeed. I have current accounts with at least six major banks but only use one as my main account for paying bills etc. I retain £0.50 in each of the others to keep them alive. And like you, I get endless streams of marketing mail which goes straight in the bin even though I have specifically opted out of such stuff. Lloyds now dress up marketing calls as ‘advisory/information’ notifications which is a subtle way around the law.

    I had an exchange of letters with Natwest some months ago over the e-mails they send me which are always formatted in HTML and pointed out that I have not accepted HTML e-mails for 10 years (my e-mail client does not render HTML) due to a well known risk they represent (malware scripts can execute automatically when you open them). Apparently NWB are incapable of sending e-mails in plain text, so theirs are now scanned by my incoming filters and trashed before they ever reach my inbox. I never even see them. Same problem with Santander and also BT.


  10. Apparently Nat West systems not working properly since 16th, Nat West ATMS were debiting withdrawal requests – but unable to issue the cash, & the error was in payments processing – but it was the credits mostly that were not being updated rather than the debts. Also I thought FSA rules meant you lose bank status after 3 day failure of tier 1 processes. More explanation needed than in the press. There is no way government can provide guarantee if the bank fails – they can’t even manage equitable life bailout. ..


  11. [OT] – If you’re into doom and gloom, here’s some more of it from Lew Rockwell yesterday: http://news.goldseek.com/LewRockwell/1340551901.php
    For the first time in my career, I see the international establishment, sometimes called the New World Order, facing a crisis so large that its very survival is at stake. For the first time, these people are scared.

    There are not many of them. In his book, Superclass, author David Rothkopf estimates that there are only about 6000 people at the top of the pyramid of world power and influence. They are mostly males, and at least a third of them have attended America’s most prestigious universities. Most of the others have attended comparable universities in Europe.

    The crisis in Europe is clearly beyond anything that this generation of establishment leaders has ever seen. The last time that anything like this faced the European establishment, it led to World War II.”
    “Today, the entire banking system of Europe is at risk. The banks are highly leveraged, and they have made enormous investments at low-interest rates in bonds issued by governments that are technically insolvent. There is no possibility that any of these bonds will ever be repaid. They were never designed to be repaid.”


  12. I think it’s fair to say that whatever MSM knows or finds out about this RBS/NWB problem, it will not be reported. The risk of being blamed for a bank run is too great, and as we know they usually limit themselves to reading out press statements.


  13. I have a business acc with Nat West & a Nat West business Visa card 10 days ago my monthly DD payment from the buis acc to the Visa acc was mysteriously cancelled by Nat West although sufficient funds were available. Rather than investigate Nat Visa blamed the buis acc people & imposed a £12 charge for non payment. Tossers. They also bilk money from you via telephone charges and their probably deliberately long winded automated telephone system. Select option blah blah etc the longer you wait the more we make !
    The branch staff were totally unable to explain how the DD had “disappeared” from their records as though it had never existed but evidenced by my bank statements and records it had clearly existed and was paid in the previous months although they did concede that the “error” was theirs.
    I will be demanding payment / damages from Nat West for my time wasted and charges incurred. Two can play at the charges and fees game.

    Solution we need to dump the banks and their crooked system of fraudulent debt based currency and create our own honest money.
    Why do we as a nation pay private banks and bondholders interest for the privilege of using their slave tokens in the company store.
    The bastards create money from thin air and then charge fees to “consider” whether to loan it to you and then add compound interest.
    Our crooked bankers cheap whore government are also complicit in this fraud / scam borrowing money as debt in our names instead of just creating the money interest and debt free on behalf of Britain.
    A third of UK interest payments are allegedly paid into the coffers of Rothschild.
    It is time to inform these shysters that enough is enough the game is up and DEFAULT !

    Form our own bank and currency all the pieces are in place. If this effort gets the numbers it deserves and support from the public we can dump the crooked banks.


  14. Any Sloggers have any suggestions for an alternative bank? I have a ‘tickover’ account at NatWest and was going to use it for my pension lump sum but something like this ‘event’ gives one second thoughts.


  15. Pingback: RBS/ULSTER – I smell a smelly fish. | jacktams.co.uk

  16. @Carrie. I’m shopping at a supermarket and asking for ‘cashback’. In these cirumstances I won’t trust a bank’s own ATM in case it does what you describe … debiting the account but not paying out.
    JW frequently mentions ethical banks and mutual socities but so far inertia has stopped me changing banks. After this fiasco is over I’m swapping to a “small is beautiful” outfit.


  17. I am in the process of transferrring my ISA account out of NatWest because their interest rate is derisory, but the new bank reports unaccountable hold ups in receiving the money. It should take 5 days – it’s taken 15 and counting.


  18. Spot on John! There is no way this is a software upgrade failure. The RBS group do have rigorous change control and risk management processes in place throughout their ICT structures. There’s absolutely no chance an upgrade with such service affecting potential would ever be approved with out an immediate rollback (to a previous version/status) option being in place either. Risk mitigation would never allow such work to take place other than out of normal working hours (usually 22:000hrs to 03:00hrs) If your explanation is correct, its quite terrifying.


  19. I’ve got the opposite problem – my account was essentially at zero (I stripped it weeks ago) but now I’ve just found that I’ve got a mysterious Direct Debit for ‘O2 Initial Payment’ – just shy of 30 quid, which has taken me overdrawn. It’s nothing to do with me as the only thing I can imagine going to O2 for is a mobile phone contract, which I have no use for. For the number of calls I make, a cheapo 12 quid PAYG phone is more than adequate.


  20. I don’t think it’s safe having cupboards above the cooker. Are they just for show and open when you use the cooker ?


  21. Pingback: RBS/ULSTER ‘GLITCH’: Slog survey of users plus analysis of the numbers raise further doubts. It isn’t just a flu…. it is more serious!!!!! « Love And Light Portal

  22. And you’ll need to keep an eye on your chosen receiving bank that is doesn’t lower the ISA interest rate just before the money comes through, because most banks apply whatever rate is in force when they receive the funds.


  23. There’s a slimline extractor hood mounted on the underside of the cupboard, if you look closely. My Mum’s got the same one, by the look of it.


  24. This glitch is as convenient to the bank as the illnesses of Samaras and Raparos are to the Greek government. Buying time?


  25. My mate John just emailed me the same thing. He works for a multi-national insurance company in the US as the global IT Support manager, but previously worked for the US Defence Dept and then at a major bank, in the same kinda job.

    He reckons there’s no possible way that a bank would roll out any software, firmware or hardware upgrades without putting a complete backup in place to rollback to in case of cock-up. 6 hour downtime, maximum, John reckons. So his opinion is that this is either a hacker / virus / disgruntled ex employee ‘easter egg’ OR the bank itself is doing it, for whatever reason.


  26. Here’s some information that may or may not be useful.
    My account is always in credit I never have an overdraft.
    I bank with Natwest.
    My account was fine.
    Hiding the debits ,leaving the credits?


  27. I’ve had a credit card with the Co-op bank for some 20 years. I’ve always paid it off on time incurring no charges. Over the years the Co-op bank slowly increased my credit limit to over £8000, even though I have never gone beyond about £2000 in any one month.
    Two weeks ago the Co-op wrote to me telling me they had dropped my credit limit to £600. Three phone calls to them and I couldn’t find out why. Nothing in my financial circumstances has changed and I still pay the account off every month.
    However, in order to pay off the credit card every month, I have set up a Direct Debit so that the Co-op can draw from my main bank the full amount on the due date. My main bank is the RBS.
    Not wishing to add to the conspiracy theory here, but could it be that the Co-op are not worried about me or my credit risk, but had advance warning that RBS might not pay up on time, (or worse – at all) ?


  28. Yeah, defo something tres suspicious about that one. I heard about it accidentally on C4 news the other night, while scanning for something to watch for half an hour before bed. Even the newsreader didn’t look as though he believed it – I know they’re trained to deliver just about anything with a straight face, but there was a definite hesitance and deliberately deadpan expression that suggested he thought it was a steaming pile of the proverbial.


  29. I have an interest and do the accounts for a small supply company. We had an overdraft of £100000 of which we would use up to £40000 of the facility at some time during the month and be up to £50000 in credit. This is a classic good account for Natwest. Low and behold some months back they cut the o/d to £50000 arbitrarily, no discussion whatsoever. We now are permanently in credit and they have done the same again cutting the o/d to £30000, Is this not strange?


  30. Quill pens have never be known to contract any computer virus, they don’t need overnight upgrades or roll-back plans and their output records are known to survive for centuries without falling foul of any operating system changes which render them unreadable by future viewing technology.

    That frock-coated doorman may be smarter than just in his sartorial elegance……


  31. @MaxC Shall we nickname him ‘Sicknote’ Samaras in future ? I’m not convinced that he and Raparos are going to be ‘Let off Games’ by Merkel & Co for very long !


  32. Very. If this is being done on a wide scale, it could have some pretty serious consequences to smaller businesses. A lot of them have similar cyclical cash flow situations to the one you describe and inability to access borrowing when needed can cause failure to meet payments to suppliers, payroll obligations, all kinds of fun things. It could put some of them out of business very easily!


  33. We manage a Nat West account which receives my demented mother-in-laws South African pension, it’s only used to collect money which is in turn transferred elsewhere, out of curiosity whilst out this morning I attempted to withdraw £500 from the ATM. Over my daily limit it said. Never used to be. Max I could withdraw £250. So, they have reduced the daily limit on the debit card.


  34. The conspiracy theory (liquidity) and the cock-up theory (incompetence) are far from mutually exclusive here, and there is good evidence of both. What we are seeing is a system in terminal decline where these two factors are rampant in equal measure. Outsourcing in the ‘interests’ of cutting overheads coupled with the extermination of too expensive(!) experienced staff, and serious problems of liquidity are a toxic combination the results of which we are now faced with. As any buddhist will tell you, motive for and the outcome of any action are inextricably linked; wrong/bad motive leads to wrong/bad action. All the IT and all the smoke and mirrors in the universe cannot change this.


  35. Well, that explains that! Turns out my bloody daughter has used our account to buy the new iPhone on 2 year contract! I’ll kill her when she gets in from college!


  36. I agree – the Co-Op. I switched from Santander back inSeptemebr and the Co-Op made the whole process as easy as possible.


  37. GSIUR: Adequate unobstructed zones should be left around the cooker or hob, in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. Proximity of combustible material should also be in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. On occasions where manufacturer’s instructions are not clearly defined the installer should follow the recommendations of BS 6172…


  38. Didn’t think much about Swedbanks internet banking troubles here in Sweden until I read this article. Swedbank is one of our big four and is considered to have the shakiest finances within the group. The internet banking issue first surfaced today, but since the 25th is payday, a lot of people are noticing.


    Other news providers will pick up on it soon.


  39. I watched the whole debacle with some horror. It also finally spurred me into action. I’m not with RBS but after day 3 without a glitch fix at rbs I began drawing my cash out the hole in the wall each day.

    The most chilling comment I read mid crisis was ” I’ve 45 men waiting to paid.”
    The knock on effect of that one comment out of hundreds sent shudders through me.

    Now. where the hell shall I hide this cash ?


  40. According to the Ethical Consumer. org these are the top rated;

    Coventry BS current & savings account Cumberland BS current & savings accounts
    Leeds BS current & savings accounts
    Metro Bank current and savings accounts
    Norwich & Peterborough current & savings accounts

    Nationwide current & savings accounts


  41. The Register is blaming a change to the overnight mainframe batch processing jobs. Control of these jobs has been outsourced to India.

    As the article says, recovering from a batch processing job error should be trivial. That makes me think nobody noticed anything was wrong for quite some time afterwards. If you have processed lots of transactions after the error, then recovery gets a lot more tricky. And if you have got rid of many experienced IT staff to save money, then……



  42. The response by the bank is to limit withdrawals from ATM’s and limit cash withdrawals from the counter, spouting “not enough cash” or “we can only allow” a certain amount as our “system is down”.

    Sounds like the bank is bust. Empty your account now, or wait for the Government to pay you in a few months, if in fact it has any cash itself.


  43. No, don’t go Co-Op – terrible terrible mistake. Unethical and rip-off imho.

    HSBC is the most secure of the UK banks. Other than that, it’s Far East or Canada.


  44. Statement from ulsterbank PR says they wont be back to normal until the end of the week.

    Seriously. This is utterly mental. Their story has about as much credibility as geithners balsa-wood bazooka from a few months back.

    Can anyone recommend a half stable bank in the republic of Ireland? Something along the lines of the co-op (no credit unions, too many have murky balance sheets)


  45. I would suggest theraputic gardening..
    Place cash in sealed plastic bag with air removed.
    Place in old plastic screw top coffee jar.
    Bury unobserved,at least 18″ deep.
    Will not run,collapse,or deny access.
    Do not water.


  46. I do agree with this, the service provided by many banks is poor, even when they are running well. As JW would say, the answer is mutualisation, which is exactly the reverse of what has happened in the last 20 years. But that was for personal gain of the few, who saw a nice opportunity for profit. Back to mutuals, I do my banking with one and the are pretty good. Scrap all these greedy, marketing-oriented, customer service representatives!


  47. Don’t the Co-Op bankroll the Labour Party, haven’t they recently extended their overdraft? Doesn”t say much for their judgement.


  48. another thumbs up for the co-op. I have a basic account that doesnt cost a penny and a direct dial number to the call centre in Manchester who deal with or redirect any issues efficiently and without delay.


  49. My wife works at RBS card ops in Southend. They ring up everyone and ask them to make payments on their cards. This lot bring money in to the bank by taking payments over the phone.
    They have stopped all the outbound calls, they are not even chasing payments on accounts. Tomorrow, they are all going on to inbound calls. Looks like this is set to continue.


  50. Another possibility is that banks need to maintain a certain level of capital for each credit card limit they permit a customer to have. If the customer does not use their credit limit the bank is maintaining capital reserves without making any profit, so they reduce your limit to reduce the capital they need to hold. In that way they also reduce the level of capital they need to maintain if their credit rating is downgraded. So if you have an £8,000 limit they need to keep say 6% of that in reserves or £480. By dropping you to £600 they only need £36, a big saving.


  51. A possible consequence of the continuing shambles at RBS which I have not seen addressed is an impact upon HMRC, as businesses that use RBS accounts find that PAYE/NI/VAT payments are debited from their accounts but not transferred to HMRC.

    Will those companies get fined/penalised by HMRC for ‘late payment’?


  52. And today is the first business day after the Quarter Day of 24 June.

    Watch for more, not less, outrage as expected payments fall foul of RBS (Right Bl**dy Shambles).


  53. Pingback: Ulster Bank's "Technical Issue" - Anyone affected? - Page 32

  54. Your mate hasn’t worked with Indian outsourcing companies then :-)

    Given that the problem has been revealed to have been with the Job Scheduler I can imagine that something like this has happened:
    Someone in the outsourcing company who probably doesn’t know any better thought something along the lines of “its only a little change and it isn’t business facing so they won’t know what we’re talking about – we’ll just put it in”. The change then trashes the Job Scheduler’s database so nothing runs anymore (the job scheduler controls what runs when which ensures that jobs – programs if you like – run at the right time and in the right order). The outsource company go to their manuals created during knowledge transfer and look for the page entitled “Job Scheduler”. It doesn’t exist because this sort of thing has never happened before. Unfortunately, the only knowledge they have of the operating system and how it works is in the knowledge transfer manual and consequently there is no-one with the skills and expertise to fix the problem. Unbeknown to the outsource company there is a backup of the trashed database but they have no clue where it is or what its called because it’s not in the manual. Even if they did know a back-up existed, they don’t a clue how or where to look for it.

    Looking at previous days logs they just about work out what needs to run and in what order and start manually creating the database. Unfortunately, and again because they don’t have the skills or experience, they make a few mistakes. These are only noticeable after the updates have finished being applied in the wrong order.

    If I’m right it would explain why RBS are being coy about whether the problem is fixed and admitting that there could be further problems down the line


  55. Thanks for the insight nr.

    I think I will continue withdrawing atm daily card limit for a bit longer, I dont like the sound of that at all.


  56. Both my young adult daughter are RBS and NatWest customers – both have suffered extreme hardship with none of their monies being credited to their accounts. This whole situation reminded me of what happened to me a few years ago when I was an RBS business and personal customer. I went to log onto my online banking only to find that none of my accounts were showing. When I called my local branch I was told that neither of my accounts existed!! This was despite me having over £8000 in my business account and several hundred in my personal account. Strangely, my accounts had completely disappeared and I was told that there was no record of me having had any accounts there! It took several phone calls to some extremely influential politicians and journalists (I was a media consultant) to get the bank to even investigate the matter. The Federation of Small Businesses got onto the case and it appeared that they were getting reports of this happening amongst various small business customers of RBS at the time. Interestingly, this all happened about a week bIefore the announced bail-out of RBS by the then UK Govt. After calls to Mr Hester’s office by treasury staff and Govt Ministers, it was acknowledged that a ‘system error’ had caused my accounts to ‘disappear’ after a software upgrade, Sound familiar?? yes this week the same excuses were trundled out by RBS – I said at the time of my own experience and finding out that thee was a pattern emerging amongst other small business customers of RBS, that they were dumping low profit accounts in order to make their books more attractive to the treasury ahead of the bailout.

    This week has seen many millions of people being affected by the software upgrade ‘glitch’ – and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that there is some kind of cover-up as to the real reason. This ‘glitch’ comes just a few weeks after it was announced that RBS can miraculously pay-back every penny to the state coffers that was used to bail them out a few short years ago and should be seen as no coincidence.

    It is clear from the lack of interest on this matter by the BBC in particular, that there are government forces working very hard to keep this story from becoming a leading story. Indeed, in Scotland where RBS is based, the BBC Scotland news website pages haven’t even covered the story at all until Mr Hester issued his apology within the last day.

    But this is not a new thing for Govt departments to support this money making type of scenario. One prime example of the Department for Work & Pensions doing exactly the same as RBS has done is done daily within the Child Support Agency.

    When the absent parent pays their monthly money direct to the CSA, that money sits in Government bank accounts for between ten and twenty one days before it is then forwarded onto the parent with care’s bank account. When you ask the CSA and DWP why this is, you get a different feeble answer – usually different from person to person. The DWP makes tens of millions of pounds out of Child Support payments each year because of the interest they make at the expense of children. To be clear, this is not a state benefit, this is money paid by the absent parent to the CSA for them to pass it all on to the parent with care. I have had to wait up to 22 days for a payment to be sent out from the CSA fom when it arrived with them – that doesn’t include time in the banking system – that is the length of time the money has physically sat in the DWP bank account.

    So, it is little wonder that no polititican has bothered to stand up and shout from the roof tops about the RBS/NatWest/Ulster Bank fiasco this past week – normally one would hear condemnation coming from the opposition benches yet not a peep – despite the country having an 83% stake in RBS – we should all be asking why that is?


  57. Good point. I’ll go with that explanation. But it does suggest how fragile the banking system is. Thanks PhilE for the intelligent reply.


  58. PhilE’s response to this comment and my query, is a good, and valid possibility. However, it begs a bigger question about the banking community, that seems to have gone into a ‘siege mentality’ to survive the markets.


  59. was doing that with santander – till THEY removed £250 from my account and put it back in, leaving me in overdraft and charging me £25. Will close my account upon returning to the UK…one bank only for me from now and no more than 1 gran in it


  60. Does someone at the DT have a nice sense of humour?

    RBS computer failure condemns man to spend weekend in the cells

    At the end the story where you would normally expect to find comments
    rattling in every couple of minutes is a box with this message ….

    We’re Sorry

    Commenting is currently disabled for essential maintenance. Please comeback soon to post your comment.


  61. Fascinating. Comments all turned off at the telegraph. Yet my disqus account
    is working fine with all comments safely stored.

    Will watch this one with interest


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  63. lol, good luck with that. Lots of Irish people have been putting their money into Ulster because the rest of our banks are so shaky. Rabo & UK Nationwide serve the Irish market, but I’d steer clear of Credit Unions and our other retail banks.


  64. Pingback: Ulster Bank fiasco blamed on offshoring of jobs - Page 2

  65. Pingback: Fears For More “Technical Glitches” At Banks « alternative economics

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  68. When I was growing up, cheques used to be cleared into your account in 3 working days. With all the advances in technology, it now takes 5 days with Barclays. I once bought something on Ebay and paid cash into Natwest to the seller’s account. It took 5 days to show up. Banks are making a heck of a lot of money delaying payments.


  69. It was showing “essential maintenance” since at least 11pm Monday. Funny how it is still under maintenance, don’t they want us to make comments? Or have they been asked to turn it off?


  70. BillK … is spot-on. His comments very much apply to the very large bank I have experience with. My reasonably informed opinion: this is a cock-up and not a conspiracy.


  71. I would go for a botched upgrade followed by a panicky rollback that was botched even more – the timing of which was convenient. Having worked on maintenance of mixed legacy systems there are often ‘features’ of upgrades that you need to know. Such as the order or timing of upgrades that in theory should not be required. This kind of knowledge is what is lost if you give all the IT to a cheap overseas system house without any formal hand-off — and it would be tempting not to tell them even if you did get a paid hand-off.

    I don’t think management of RBS are clever enough to be able to set up a computer crash using a remote systems house at short notice. I would expect them to milk the financial upside of the problem for all it was worth though. So I expect that in the hours of teleconferences with Chennai the Indian IT staff were told to be extra extra cautious and double and triple check everything this time with test runs even if it does take an extra 24 hours….
    Never let a good crisis go to waste when there is an upside..


  72. This is not a “glitch”, which was RBS’s first and most successful bit of PR about the debacle. It is, and always was, a major systems failure. It’s about time the news media, including the Guardian, stopped using the word “glitch” in their headlines. A glitch is a temporary, and usually self-correcting, failure.


  73. The conspiracy theory IMHO is a load of b*ll*cks and shows signs of paranoia. The banks have shown themselves to be untrustwothy, but there is no way they would pull this sort of scam with all the ill-will and poor public relations that goes with it, plus the compensation claims that would ensue.

    As an RBS customer, I can say I have not had any problems and all my bills and money transfers have been paid on time. The OD has been extended by an additional £100. I normally get an email/text alert when the OD goes above a set amount and these have not been since the problem arose, but the additional £100 OD should ensure that I don’t have to pay any penalties.

    Ironically only a week before this computer problem occurred RBS paid me £95 compensation for a complaint I made regarding online access (Google Chrome does not like their online access password field and inputs invalid characters in numeric fields resulting in a failed logon). I had not even asked for the compensation, but had just brought it to their attention as a problem issue. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a bank payment in my favour! While £95 is peanuts for RBS, a bank that is in serious trouble does not make such payments unless it is extracted like teeth with a pair of pliers under pain of death!

    Contrast that with Equifax who took Direct Debits from my wife’s credit card account for several months long after a trial subscription was cancelled (within the agreed term). While they have repaid the original premiums they have refused to refund any interest and wont even countenance compensation payments. That is one that she will be taking to the Ombudsman.

    As an ex-IT consultant with 20+ years experience of financial IT systems, I know how creaky these legacy financial systems are and how easy it is to mess up computer systems. some years ago, while working for a large financial institution, I even managed to do it myself when I was testing a programme to round down financial payments to the nearest 10p and I inadvertently managed to run it against the live database. Fortunately it was easily reversed. It is also surprising how much money these financial institutions make by rounding sums this way – it came to hundreds of thousand of pounds.


  74. Pingback: BREAKING: Allegations of systemic fraud in RBS | A diary of deception and distortion

  75. Pingback: John Ward – Breaking : Allegations Of Systemic Fraud in RBS – 1 October 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  76. Pingback: John Ward – Breaking : Allegations Of Systemic Fraud in RBS – 1 October 2012 « Mission Galactic Freedom

  77. The very heart of your writing whilst sounding agreeable
    initially, did not sit very well with me personally after
    some time. Someplace throughout the sentences you managed to make me a
    believer unfortunately only for a short while. I still have got a problem with your jumps in logic and
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