Ulster Bank customers left in dark over ‘goodwill’ payouts

The 600,000 customers affected by Ulster Bank’s recent computer systems failure could be waiting for months to find out if they are to receive additional compensation payments to the account reimbursements already promised.

Ulster Bank yesterday put the initial cost of what it refers to as its “technology incident” — which disrupted salary transfers, direct debit transactions, and social welfare payments for 600,000 of its 1.9m customers — at €35m.

However, the bank’s chief executive, Jim Brown, said that cost would probably grow by “tens of millions” of euro by the time the matter is finally put to rest.

Customers are being reimbursed on a number of fronts — including fees for money transfers, overdrafts, and direct debits on unpaid bills, as well as the costs of lost interest on savings accounts.

However, it is unclear as to whether customers will receive goodwill compensation in addition to those account expenses.

The bank — which also yesterday reported losses of over €700m for the first half of this year — is currently locked in talks with consumer bodies and the financial regulator.

The latter want Ulster to make additional goodwill compensation payments to affected customers, while the bank is keen on redressing the issue another way, such as deferring its introduction of planned current account charges.

It is understood the talks involve a number of proposals, but it is too soon to know if compensation will be the ultimate result, or when a decision will be made.

Mr Brown said he hoped the bulk of the redress issue could be arrived at before the end of the year.

A spokesperson for the Central Bank — which cannot actually force Ulster into paying additional compensation — said the talks were ongoing, but to comment any further would be “inappropriate”.


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