Monday, 2 July 2012

Me, Ulster Bank, What they're doing wrong, and what we can do

I am (like many Ulster Bank customers) livid.  Below I shall tell you of my experience of this whole technical issue, followed by what Ulster Bank should be doing, but aren't, and how this has made the situation WORSE.

I have had no access to my account via my card for nearly 2 weeks now.  Payments have not entered my account.  I am currently owed in excess of £800.  I noticed today that around £400 worth of random transactions have left my account, all of random amounts and listed as a debit card transaction.  This is interesting as I currently can not use my card.
Being based in England, I was told that I could withdraw money by speaking to the staff at Natwest, Ulster Banks affiliate.  This is quite simply, partly true.  The first branch I entered, I was told that they couldn't do anything for me.  In the second branch, I had to escalate this query up to the assistant manager of the branch, who was able to help me (because she used some INITIATIVE.... something that has been lost throughout this debacle)  The problem is that I do not have the time to spend an hour (or more on that occasion) in a bank to take money out.  I have lost earnings because of this, have had to get cover for shifts etc. and borrow money from work and friends, which is stressful and humiliating.
More to the point, that £400 of activity I mentioned earlier currently cannot be investigated as the fraud team (which i believe is the same for Natwest, RBS and Ulster Bank) cannot access my account.  So they then decide to put me through to the Visa Dispute Team, as "they might have access"  The problem being, every time I am transferred to them I am put on hold for minutes and then the line goes dead, as if i'd got to the end of a waiting system and been cut off.  Then I phone Ulster Bank and ask for the number for the dispute team. So far I have been given 3 different phone numbers, none of which work. I am fed up.

From a PR point of view, Ulster Bank have handled this whole thing appallingly.  They have released statements to customers through the media, and there is an update message when you log in to your anytime banking online.  I have had no access to my account for 2 weeks and have had not so much as an email or letter, addressed to me apologising.  Just a few moments ago, I phoned the "helpline number" which is mentioned in the press releases.  This was simply a recorded statement of what I already knew.  What is the point of a helpline where you get no help? At least have the person talking in the statement be the head of the bank, or someone high up as opposed to a nameless voice.   As far as I am aware, Ulster Bank have not had an actual person on television or on the radio giving their point of view or statements (I may be wrong) but are simply making press releases.  This is cowardly and shameful.  We are not actually being told exactly what is going on or why it is taking so long to fix, just a few general terms such as "backlog" and "technical problems"   RULE NUMBER ONE OF CUSTOMER SERVICES ---- Tell your customers exactly what is going on.  We are not all technical genius, but at least put it in layman's terms for goodness sake.

According to the FSA, it is every customers right to have access to their account.  Well, I quite simply, don't have access.  I have also lost earnings and no doubt my phone bill will be through the roof due to the 0845 numbers that Ulster Bank employ.  I shall be demanding all of this, plus compensation.  It has got to the stage where this has become ridiculous.  It is no good shouting at people in a bank or on the phone, and I cant seem to speak to anyone, and Ulster Bank don't seem to have anyone appearing in person.  Hence why I have felt it appropriate to make my anger public. There are plenty of people who are no doubt in the same position I am in.  So I am attacking them online through this blog.  You should too.  Or share this one.  It might not make the problems be sorted any faster, but it will at least teach the honchos a thing or two about customer service.

***** Since I wrote this, apparently there has been a representative on NI local news.   Is this really good enough 2 weeks after it happened?  I know my my money will eventually come in, and that the fraud on my account will be sorted.  But that does not stop the whole thing from becoming ultra frustrating.******


  1. the thing that frustrates me is that "no-one will be left out of pocket" i am in the process of setting up a homemade jewellery company and i can't order from my online wholesalers because my money has not gone into my account! are they gona reimburse me for lost business as i will not be able to have enough jewellery made by launch date?

    also the fact that they keep apologising! not enough! tell us the bloody truth about whats going on! cuz theres something they are keeping from us!

    and i feel sorry for the staff! have the big bosses apologised to them for all the grief they are getting? are they apologising to them because of all the extra work they have to do and extra hours they have to work?

    i think the big head honchos who are currently hiding in their offices (god knows where) should be at the banks taking the flack! not the low paid front line staff!

    i would leave the bank if i wasnt in my student overdraft!

    1. Exactly, Its all about cashflow... Im currently "out of pocket" I feel sorry for the staff too. It infuriates me that RBS and Natwest are fixed, yet we are weeks behind. Its a basic lack of customer service, more than anything that has angered me. Its just got to the stage of pure frustration. I feel your pain.