Nationwide apologises for technical glitch
Nationwide, the UK's biggest building society, apologised today for a technical error that left 700,000 customers out of pocket.
Debit card transactions made on Tuesday 24 July were processed twice, affecting an estimated 704,426 accounts due to "human error".
"A small number of customers will have been adversely impacted," says Jenny Groves, divisional director for customer experience at Nationwide. "All charges will be refunded in full and any costs associated with this error will be reimbursed in full."
No financial loss
All debit payments were deducted as normal on Tuesday, but were then repeated on Wednesday, causing some customers to become overdrawn.
But Groves is adamant that "none of our customers will suffer financial loss as a result of this one-off error".
In another drama for British bank customers, NatWest's online banking service froze yesterday, leaving up to 11.5 million customers unable to log into their accounts or access their cash.
RBS, which owns NatWest, has stated that "online banking is now fully operational and debit card transactions are processing as normal. We continue to monitor the systems closely and will keep our customers fully informed. We apologise for any inconvenience caused".
Issued by a bank as part of a current account and, in a nutshell, serves as electronic cash. Unlike a credit or charge card, where you get an interest-free period before you have to settle the bill, the funds spent on a debit card are withdrawn immediately from your current account. Unless you’ve arranged an overdraft, if you don’t have the cash in the account, you can’t spend it.
This is a mutual organisation owned by its members and not by shareholders. These societies offer a range of financial services but have historically concentrated on taking deposits from savers and lending the money to borrowers as mortgages, hence the name. In the mid-1990s many societies “demutualised” and became banks. One academic study (Heffernan, 2003) found demutualised societies’ pricing on deposits and mortgages was more favourable to shareholders than to customers, with the remaining mutual building societies offering consistently better rates. In 1900, there were 2,286 building societies in the UK; in 2011, there are just 51.