Ulster Bank apologises after customers unable to withdraw cash

Ulster Bank has apologised after a technical problem left customers unable to withdraw money or access accounts for the second time in recent months.

The bank’s customers reported problems with accessing money through ATMs and cards being declined on Wednesday from 9pm. There were also problems accessing accounts online and by telephone.

Initially, Ulster Bank’s owner RBS tweeted an apology at 11.30pm and the problem was resolved at 1am.

This latest issue follows on from a “technology incident” last June which disrupted salary transfers, direct debit transactions, and social welfare payments for 600,000 of the bank’s 1.9m customers.

Ulster Bank yesterday issued an apologising to its customers and said the problem was not related to the June incident.

“This problem was caused by a hardware fault and was not related to the issues we experienced last summer.

“It was much easier to fix, though clearly an unacceptable failure. Any customer who was left out of pocket due to this outage should get in touch so we can put things right for them,” the bank said in a statement.

Dermott Jewell, CEO of the Consumer Association, said the bank’s customers were having to pay for a service that “was not up to scratch”.

“There’s no question that this raises very serious concerns in relation to the dependency of Irish customers on a system that’s based in the UK and the quality of the security behind it, particularly in light of the fact that this happened before.”

“It affected quite a significant number of people who needed to access the system to download money, to take care of their banking needs and they couldn’t. Realistically, they are paying for this service and it’s just not up to scratch,” he said.

Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins accused Ulster Bank of cutting corners and of having a “fast buck” mentality.

“I put it to the bank that the decision taken by senior management to outsource its operations overseas was done without the engagement of a third-party consultancy firm or completing the necessary due diligence.

“If this is the case, then it is no surprise that their IT debacle continues to be a story in national and international media, and a constant headache for their customers,” she said.

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