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back to article Natwest freezes debit cards, online banking in fresh cock-up

Another IT cock-up at Natwest halted customers' debit card transactions last night and took down online services. The RBS-owned bank reckons its latest screw-up was fixed at 9.40am, some 16 hours after it first admitted things had gone to pot at 4.30pm. Customers complained that debit payments couldn't be made, sparking major …

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Yeah but

The shareholders are all OK and costs are trimmed so profit's there, too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah but

Err... A large amount of the shareholders are the UKFI (AKA The General Public) staff members and pension schemes who've seen the value of their investment slashed in the last few years. No, the shareholders are not ok.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah but

I can assure you that the shareholders are fucked.

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IT Staff

Now about sacking all the IT staff......want to reconsider?

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Boffin

On the unwisdom of interpreting others' predictions too loosely.

Dominic Connor's prediction, in the article cited, was for aftershocks within a week of publication, rather than a month later. Just a thought.

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Holmes

Re: On the unwisdom of interpreting others' predictions too loosely.

We all know in IT that things do not happen every week, batch jobs, changes in monthly procedures, quarterly end routines, the list goes on and on.....it can take a while for things to fall apart.

For infoR I was not referring to his article ...... I was referring to real life ;-)

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Mushroom

It really is starting to look like you're better off shoving your money under your mattress than leaving it in the care of these clowns.

Any regular business that made as many mistakes as all the banks have done in recent years have gone out of business by now.

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Anonymous Coward

Err...

Are you alright up there, I tend to get vertigo when I'm on a horse that high...

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WTF?

Re: Err...

How's the vertigo at the moment, then?

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Anonymous Coward

Please, have a word with my boss then.

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So, hows that Indian outsourcing deal going for you then?

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JDX
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Coincidences

Is it really coincidence all these bank screw-ups are happening at the same time? It seems a bit fishy.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Coincidences

Tinfoil hat time ?

I don't think too many people with experience are surprised. We create an artificial time structure (weeks, months) and the proceed to centre our activities around them. Hence "Friday afternoon cars".

That said, it is intriguing there are so many problems with the Olympics major sporting event underway ... I wonder if there's a capacity bottleneck somewhere ?

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Thumb Up

Re: Coincidences

JimmyPage struck a pose in his embroidered flares with his '58 Les Paul in front of his runic inscribed Marshall stack to say:

"That said, it is intriguing there are so many problems with the Olympics major sporting event underway ... I wonder if there's a capacity bottleneck somewhere ?"

Well Indon't know about anything else but my capacity for cynicism is running pretty close to capacity...

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IT Angle

Re: Coincidences

Well no, most of them are owned by 2 or 3 larger companies and those that aren't are highly linked into those which are crashing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Coincidences

Fishy?

They all realised that they'd made a massive fuckup up at roughly the same time, they all started laying off their cruft at the same time, they all realised that wasn't enough at the same time and they all started laying of their expensive (ie competent) staff at the same time.

The only thing that's fishy is that the whole lot haven't come down.

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This outage was in no way related to the previous issues, although it will be interesting to find out what the "source" can manage to fabricate.

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Natwest have known about this new problem for over a week. I’ve been trying to transfer £1500 from my current account onto my Loan. The money appears to move from one to the other for a couple of hours then is lost from both records. I’ve spoken to Natwest every day over the last week and they repeat the same actions for my money to disappear into the void until we have to call them again to put it back into my current account. This has happened again after 09:40 today, so I doubt they’ve fixed the problem, unless this is another unreported issue they have?

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Anonymous Coward

Prince Henry Ubuntu III from Nigeria

Thanking you for those transfers of £1500

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Not always bad

While NatWorst were happily double-debiting everyone this week, it seems that there was a Lloyds TSB cash machine in Ipswich that was handing out twice as much money as it was asked for. There was quite a queue before they turnd it off.

No info about whether it was an IT issue, or just someone who'd loaded the £10 dispenser with £20 notes...

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Quantitative easing

by giving the free money direct to the customers?

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Happy

Re: Not always bad

I don't think £20 notes fit in the £10 note canister, they are sized to fit the note, and £20's are bigger

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But when that is discovered and fixed

Your account gets adjusted. So you don't win in the end.

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"We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

Astonishing that anyone could understand the spokesman, what with having Lucifer's greasy cock halfway down his throat when he proffered that standard weasley "apology"...

Just when did the UK utterly abandon traditional candour for these abject lies, implying that the complete failure to deliver the core service that people clearly depend upon might be acceptable to most of their customers?

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The bankers would love to fix it

but they are too busy having no moral compass

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@squilookle

Good luck with getting your employer to pay you in cash.

outages will happen sometime but these do seem to be occurring a little too often to be routine failures.

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Pint

Re: @squilookle

Yeah, I know it's nearly impossible to get paid in cash (unless you look for employers that are less than reputable). I was thinking more along the lines of withdrawing it on pay day - although I would never really go to that extreme anyway. Too much effort and the money would be liable to getting lost in the event the house got broken into/flooded/burned down.

My point is that, as you say the outages are happening too often - I don't expect the banks to operate with no mistakes but there really are a lot at the moment.

As well as the outages, there is the issue of customer service - I don't know anyone that does not have at least one horror story about a bank. I have had dealings with Nationwide, Natwest, Halifax and Lloyds TSB and I have horror stories about all of them. Ridiculous things like them sending bank statements to deceased relatives for nine months after they passed away (bank notified properly, the statements were addressed to "The Late..." (Natwest) Sending mail to deceased relatives after having been notified (Natwest, Nationwide, Halifax). Failing to implement change of address after the procedure was followed (Nationwide, Halifax), getting through to someone in the call centre who was avoiding calls but forgot to mute his phone so I could hear him talking about avoiding calls (Natwest). Sending bank statements after the account was closed (repeatedly) (Lloyds). Getting a payment taken out of my bank twice, taking me over my overdraft limit and then getting charged for it (Nationwide).

Those are mine, and I haven't even (and won't) touched on the murky operations beyond the consumer branches of these organizations, obscene bonuses and the like.

I know I sound like an outraged Daily Mail Reader (I'm not, by the way) but the banks really are in a bad way at the minute, and although I'm exaggerating when I suggest withdrawing all the money and putting it under the mattress, there is a serious point about whether they can be trusted with the responsibilities they hold, and I don't believe they can.

Rant over - I'm going for a pint now.

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Anonymous Coward

Banking Novice

What would it take for the regulator to take away their banking license ? Can they carry on like this forever ?

I've been watching the Channel 4 programme Bank on Dave - it seems impossible to get a banking license but it seems once you have one you can do whatever you like ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Banking Novice

Changing the regulators for ones who actually regulate rather than treat the job as a well paid spectator sport would be a good start. Diane Abbot hit the nail on the head when she said that Labour didn't "get" business, so they asked business to explain how shit worked to them in simple terms. It was never going to end well.

With all that facilitating lubricant (money) sloshing around the system, there is more chance I'll get flattened by a meteorite made of pure Unobtanium than anyone losing a banking licence.

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FAIL

Cashless Society... not quite ready yet.

In my experience NatWest have frequently had debit card glitches.

I've usually experienced these glitches at the supermarket checkout when paying for a large basket of goodies.

Inconvenient and embarrassing but not so bad when the person on the till informs you that lots of NatWest customers have had the same issue.

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No excuses

There are NO excuses for this sort of failure to occur. The truth is, is that hardware and software fails. What separates the professionals from the amateurs (and from these failures, NatWest's IT and data center services organizations, ARE amateurs) is designing and maintaining the systems to be fault resilient, in that they can tolerate single or multiple failures of components and systems, but the result is only degraded performance (increased latency, usually), not NO performance. I can say this because I have been a major designer and implementer of such systems (high volume, large scale, fully distributed transaction processing systems) that run most of the semiconductor, flat panel display (TV), and disc drive manufacturing plants in the world. Those manufacturers are VERY intolerant of "fab down" scenarios, and 6-sigma up-time is just barely adequate for their needs. Until financial organizations (banks) like NatWest apply the same sort of engineering rigor to their systems and processes, these sort of scenarios will continue to occur.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No excuses

There is only one problem with that very worthy goal, it costs serious money, can't have the bonuses cut, now can we.

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Just two problems with that:

a) Offshore staff are cheap, but experienced staff cost lots of money.

b) Customers only complain - they don't change banks, or hold you to account if it all blows up.

I speak as an experienced and certified Sun Cluster practitioner, so I understand your point about redundancy (and to be honest, my first thought was "Has anyone at Natwest heard of clustering?")

But IT (or even security) is not a topic that management in most shops take seriously anymore - the only thing that is "too big to fail" these days is the senior management's bonus payment. They know they won't be held accountable - plenty of case history already demonstrates this - so why bother spending the money? Who needs goodwill when you can shit all over your customers and they'll keep coming back for more?

Look at the number of security breaches in recent months (many involving customers' financial data) - if this stuff actually mattered in the grand scheme of things, the senior management of these firms would be hanging from the nearest yardarm. They would certainly not remain in employment - and definitely not rewarded with more bonuses!

The bottom line is this: The CIA triad (confidentiality, integrity, availability) doesn't matter one jot in the domain of banking and big business. Please excuse my rather jaded evaluation of this farce.

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Time magazine front page suggestion

I declare this the year of the bug. Or rather of the fuck up, since the headlines aren't limited to software.

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Anonymous Coward

The problem isn't just with the banks

If you ask me, a way to ensure the banks don't make mistakes is to fine them larger amounts when they do.

Say 25% of their monthly takings, just to make it hurt.

The amount depends on the number of customers affected, and the effect on "average customer".

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Re: The problem isn't just with the banks

Better Idea would to makes the mangers involved forfeit all bonuses. Then a 30 day trading suspension of their stock.

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So much for...

... highly redundant servers

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