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RBS waives customer account charges in wake of IT problems

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group will waive any overdraft fees or charges levied on customers' accounts as a result of an IT glitch that shut customers out of their accounts and prevented some from making transactions, the company has said.

Last week RBS Group announced that a "large number" of its NatWest and Ulster Bank customers, and some RBS customers, had been affected by a "failure" of its systems to update account balances. Business customers were also affected.

The systems failure has been fixed but the company has been left with a huge backlog of transactions to process. It is thought that up to 17 million people have been affected, according to media reports.

On Sunday RBS Group's director of customer services said progress was being made on updating customers' account balances and that those individuals would not be charged penalties if their accounts were overdrawn.

"I can confirm that we are making progress to clear the backlog of payments and I'm cautiously optimistic that RBS and NatWest customer account balances will be largely back to normal from [Monday]," Susan Allen said in a statement. "We will automatically waive any overdraft fees or charges on current accounts for customers affected. This will be processed over the next few days."

Allen added that RBS Group would also "work directly with credit agencies to ensure no one has their credit score affected" and said that "for all other issues, customers have our commitment that they will not be out of pocket from this issue." The company is expected to provide more detail on how this promise will be met later this week.

In response to the problems affecting its customers the company opened 1,200 bank branches on Sunday and has extended the opening hours at the sites for the remainder of this week. Affected customers can also obtain cash advances from the branches, the company has said.

At the weekend RBS Group chief executive Stephen Hester apologised for "difficulties people are experiencing" and admitted that the company had let customers down.

The Unite union, which represents staff at RBS, said job cuts at RBS Group were to blame for the "banking crisis".

"Following some 30,000 job losses at the bank and extensive outsourcing of functions, the union has grave concerns that staffing challenges are exacerbating the problems facing the bank," Unite said in a statement.

David Fleming, Unite national officer, added that the current workforce had worked "around the clock to resolve the problems" despite facing job and pay cuts and reductions in pension entitlements.

"Serious questions must be asked as to why constant job cuts are being made when there are clearly serious issues which need addressing by management," Fleming said. "Customers and staff have the right to expect more from their bank. Unite, on behalf of the staff who have given up their evenings and weekend to address the problems, will demand answers as to why staffing levels are being cut at a time of considerable problems within the bank."

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