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NatWest extends opening hours again
Taxpayer-backed bank NatWest has been forced to further extend its opening hours as it battles with a "significant" backlog of transactions following a IT failure.
Parent company RBS, which is 80% state-owned, potentially faces an overtime and compensation bill running into hundreds of millions of pounds, according to one analyst.
Affected customers - including those who bank with RBS and Ulster Bank - have taken to forums and Twitter to vent their frustration, threatening to close their accounts once access to their cash is restored.
Some 1,200 main NatWest and RBS branches will be open from 8am to 6pm for the rest of the week after opening on Sunday for the first time, and late last week.
Gary Greenwood, analyst at Shore Capital, said the saga could cost RBS hundreds of millions of pounds. He said: "The extra cost of branch openings and fee waivers is likely to cost the company tens of millions of pounds, although compensation costs for customers could push the total cost into the low hundreds of millions of pounds."
Customers will not automatically be entitled to extra compensation for the disruption, according to consumer champion Which? but the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has advised them to keep a record of how they have been affected in case they need to complain later on. However, the bank has promised to refund any charges customers incurred through not being able to pay bills.
RBS opened around 1,200 branches for the first time on a Sunday, while chief executive Stephen Hester issued a public apology for the debacle.
NatWest has more than 7.5 million personal banking customers but it remains unclear how many have been affected. One customer from Glasgow wrote on Twitter: "I have had my bank charges of £12.95 taken this morning but my salary payment which should have gone in today hasn't appeared. Goodbye Nat West, from a customer of 25 years' standing."
Another from Hedgerley in Buckinghamshire said: "I thought the problem had been sorted and you were working on the backlog - how then have my wages not gone into my account today but the direct debit have come out?"
Susan Allen, director of customer services at RBS Group, insisted that progress was being made and expressed cautious optimism that RBS and NatWest customer account balances would be largely "back to normal" at the start of the working week.