AIB missed a major goodwill opportunity to restore trust by writing down huge chunks of mortgage debt for almost 6,000 customers, but not telling them it was doing so. That is according to financial advisor and consumer advocate Padraic Kissane, who said AIB had created even more confusion for 5,900 customers who suddenly found up to tens of thousands of euro wiped off their mortgage balance on Wednesday.
AIB announced in April an extra cohort of 5,900 tracker mortgage holders were to receive redress and compensation, after a ruling from the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) that they should have had the option to switch to a prevailing tracker rate after the end of their fixed rates.
The bank had said publicly in April the affected customers would be informed by letter in July and August as to what was to happen to their mortgage accounts.
However, most if not all customers did not receive any letters before yesterday, meaning calls to the bank's helplines to ask just what was going on.
Mr Kissane, one of the major whistleblowers of the €1bn-plus tracker mortgage scandal, told the Irish Examiner that it was hard to fathom how AIB managed to create a farcical situation out of what should have been good news for 5,900 customers.
The Dublin-based Kerry native - credited for being one of the major advocates for blowing the lid off the original €1bn-plus tracker mortgage scandal when 40,000 customers of pillar banks and other lender were wrongly put on more expensive loans - said: "The bank adjusted the balances of 5,900 customers without actually telling anyone.
They should have communicated some way that there would be changes. It is less than satisfactory yet again, to put it mildly.
"Some of these 5,900 customers were not even aware they had a case. They won't have a clue why their balance has dropped, why payments have been adjusted downwards."
Only that people were online at consumer websites like Askaboutmoney.com, it could have caused utter confusion and mass worries about phantom missed payments, Mr Kissane said.
Askaboutmoney.com founder Brendan Burgess said people were ringing the banks in total confusion, wondering how sums of €30,000 were suddenly wiped off their debt balances.
He estimated that up to 5,500 of those in the 5,900 cohort were unaware of why it was happening when they first made the discovery.
Users of Askaboutmoney.com said AIB customer service representatives could shed little light on it for them, instead instructing them to sit tight and wait for the letter from the bank to come either this month or the next.
Some of the mortgage holders even suspected the customer service staff themselves had not fully grasped the whole process.
AIB insisted it had previously communicated that customers who are in the FSPO grouping will receive a balance adjustment, a cheque for the interest refund and a letter in July or August.
"If customers have any queries they can call our FSPO Mortgage Review helpline on 0818 300 070," the bank said.