Banking mayhem hits Dungannon customers
MISSING wages, business payments gone awry, interrupted purchases and unpaid mortgages - the banking fiasco at Ulster Bank continues to hit Dungannon people.
On a thundery afternoon on Dungannon’s Market Square, a queue of frustrated Ulster Bank customers snaked onto the street where they vented anger at the way the bank was handling the crisis.
As the debacle rolled into its second week, many customers emerged from the branch visibly distressed and swearing. Most said they were too upset to talk.
Others complained of being unable to access cash for a week or pay essential bills. Cathleen Cleary, a widow and pensioner, was almost in tears when she described going to a cash machine the previous evening and learning that for the first time in her life she was overdrawn.
“I was shocked to learn that I was overdrawn by £51, even though I had recently transferred money to the account”, she said.
“I live alone and have no one to rely upon. This has caused me a lot of emotional anxiety. To make matters worse the bank in Dungannon was closed at 5.30pm while the Ulster bank in Clogher was open until 7pm. What good was that to me?
“I feel completely isolated and vulnerable. I’ve come to the bank now but there’s a massive queue.” Delphina Marime, who runs a hair extension business, said she had been left out of pocket by the banking problems.
“They keep telling me that the issues have been sorted out, but I’ve been unable to get important business cheques cleared”, she complained.
“I’ve had to come personally to the bank to see what can be done. This is harming my business and causing me a lot of worry.”
Cestas Augylius complained that he was unable to access his wages.
“My pay went in last Friday but I haven’t been able to withdraw any money. “How can I pay my rent and bills when I have no money.
“My girlfriend is also with the Ulster Bank so she can’t access any money either.
“I’ve taken time off work to come to the bank, but look at the queue. This will take a long time.”
Georgina McMullan and her daughter Louise, both customers at Ulster Bank, said they have been left in the dark with regards to their finances since last Friday.
“I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have a lot of direct debits”, said Georgina.
“So at least I don’t have the worry that my bills are going unpaid.
“However, I have no idea whether a cheque has cleared or not, which is why I’m having to queue.”
A missed mortgage payment was causing Louise a lot of worry.
“Our mortgage is with another bank, so the money goes out on a direct debit. However, we have no way of knowing whether or not the payment was made.
“They fine you for a missed or late payment, even though in this case it is not our fault.”
Although staff in the Dungannon branch of Ulster Bank have been working hard to clear the backlog of transactions that has built up, the branch was not one of the 36 across the North to stay open until 7pm each evening.
Ulster Banks in Clogher, Cookstown, Strabane and Omagh ran the extended opening hours to deal with the back-log.
An Ulster Bank worker, who did not wish to be named, said staff were as much in the dark as customers with regards to when a full service will be restored to customers. It is now more than a week since the technical problem surfaced, leaving many people unable to access accounts and wages paid in. The bank has described the scale of the backlog as “unprecedented” and said they were doing all within their power to correct the problem.
Susan Allen, director of customer services at RBS Group, which owns Ulster Bank, apologised for the time it had taken to resolve the computer issue and thanked customers for their patience.
She also acknowledged that the bank was expecting to pay significant compensation to correct its error.
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Weather for Dungannon
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 4 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west