Britain’s biggest building society has had, debatably, a rough year. With the general public largely distrustful of banking commercial properties and building societies, particularly following the Libor scandal of the past few weeks, the last thing Nationwide needs is to draw media attention to any failings within its commercial property chain.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened this week, when more than 700,000 of the commercial property chain’s customers complained about money, in some cases thousands of pounds, mistakenly being taken from their current accounts.
This was due to computer error, as debits charged to accounts of Nationwide’s customers were paid out on both Tuesday and Wednesday, effectively doubling any payments customers made early in the week. It is estimated that around 704,000 customers of the commercial property chain were affected by the blunder.
The problems for the UK banking industry continued well into Wednesday evening, when customers of Natwest’s online banking service were effectively locked out of their accounts, again due to a computer error. This meant that, should any of the 11.5 million customers who use the online banking service as their primary means of controlling their finances wish to take out money from their account, they were forced to visit their nearest Natwest commercial property branch rather than pay by debit card online or withdraw from an ATM.
Natwest’s blunder may have been irritating for customers, but it is Nationwide’s commercial properties that will be bearing the full force of public fury today. Due to the double payments, many customers have found themselves forced into unauthorised overdrafts, meaning penalty charges were added on top of the excess money removed from their accounts.
Additionally, those who rely on minimum sums in their account could have missed mortgage payments, and thousands more saw their cards rejected in retail and leisure commercial properties up and down the country.
To add insult to injury for Nationwide, the blunder comes only weeks after it boasted about treating its customers better than the bigger commercial property banking chains on the high street. In fact, Nationwide was one of the most prominent voices speaking out against RBS when their internet banking services malfunctioned just over a month ago.
Consumer Action Group spokesman Marc Gander said; “This is a total laugh.
“Nationwide ought to have been much more careful before it started crowing about the fact it was different to the big high street banks.”
In fact, Nationwide may even debatably have behaved worse than RBS following the larger banking chain’s crash last month. The building society, when quizzed by angry customers, has revealed that any people who have had issues with their credit ratings as a result of the commercial property chain’s blunder will be responsible for contacting credit reference agencies themselves to explain the situation.
Jenny Groves, a spokeswoman for Nationwide building society, said; “We apologise to those customers affected by an issue which has affected some of our debit card customers.
“All charges will be refunded in full and any costs associated with this error will be reimbursed in full.”
Should commercial property banking and building societies be allowed to get away with costly mistakes of this kind without being expected to compensate affected customers? Do you think that Nationwide should be the ones responsible for explaining marks against their customer’s credit ratings to credit reference agencies?
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