back to article Lloyds TSB, Halifax tech stumbles into the cold, goes titsup for hours

Lloyds TSB and Halifax saw their faster payments system fall down yesterday morning after a computer problem at the weekend stretched into the beginning of the week. The Faster Payments System processes payments within a few hours instead of the next day turnaround required to clock transactions over older systems. According to …

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Paris Hilton

"something from the weekend"

Uuggghhhhhh! I wish people would dispose of them properly! Yuk!

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Facepalm

Nothing to fix here.... yet we are working on a fix.

Hmmm, banks really need to work on their technical speak. Claiming there is nothing to fix, yet they are actively working on a fix is really inspiring confidence :)

"The company would not be pinned down on the root cause of the problem, which it would only describe as "something from the weekend". A spokeswoman told The Reg: "There hasn't been a failure it was just something from the weekend that we are aware of and working to fix.""

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Anonymous Coward

"not a failure"

So it was a deliberate outage to mess customers around?

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Unhappy

Irritatingly vague system anyway

While it's true that "most" payments will go the Faster Payments route, it's a largely pointless system if there's no way to predict that it definitely will. I've had payments go to the same recipient take 15 minutes, 1 day or 3 days.

An improvement, but useless if I can't reliably know when it will arrive. All I know for sure is "no more than 3 (working) days"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Irritatingly vague system anyway

There are ways to predict what will happen - if you ask your bank they'll usually tell you.

For instance - I recently had to send a fairly large payment to someone by Co-Op bank, I asked them if it would go faster payments and they said basically "Usually yes, but this is the first payment and the first one is delayed for anti-fraud reasons."

Many banks also have an upper limit on faster payments, initially this was to limit the traffic when the system went in, but now it's usually an anti-fraud system. Again, ask and they'll tell you.

The think you can't predict is just how quick it will be, usually it's a minimum of 45 (or possibly 90mins, I can't remember off-hand) but actually it'll take about a couple of minutes max more often than not.

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Silver badge

Re: Irritatingly vague system anyway

Depends who you ask, not all banks will tell you (not all are capable).

And it's not "many banks" that have an upper limit for fraud reasons, it's every bank. They're unlikely to tell you the answer either, for the very reason that it's in place. "Hullo Mister Bank, can you tell me how small I need to make these transactions to beat your system please? Many thanks"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Irritatingly vague system anyway

I've only dealt with Coop, NatWest, RBS, Ulsterbank etc (basically all the RBS group) and they've always been happy to tell me.

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Re: Irritatingly vague system anyway

The Faster Payment Service (http://www.fasterpayments.org.uk/) was created to allow banks to comply with the Payment Services Regulations 2009 (http://www.out-law.com/page-10370). The key part of these regulations is that all bank payments initiated by consumers to anywhere in the EU must complete by no later than one working day. The previous scheme, BACS, took three working days.

The FPS has a 'deadline' of two hours from payment to complete. However, some banks may 'hold' payment requests before initiating them into the FPS to complete fraud checks. However long the banks hold a payment, the regulations are clear that the payment must still complete within one working day.

The old BACS is still in operation, but mainly for businesses and direct debit payments as they fall outside the scope of the PSRs one-day requirement.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Irritatingly vague system anyway

@Skoorb - FPS doesn't do payments to "anywhere in the EU", at any speed let alone one working day. It also doesn't have a 2 hour deadline and the only thing they have to do is ensure it reaches the account by the end of the next working day. So in effect it *can* take up to 2 full working days.

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Re: Irritatingly vague system anyway

FPS doesn't do international, no, but SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) and the PSD (Payment Services Directive) require payments to happen that quickly - international payments use a non-domestic system, FPS is domestic!

For the timescales in a simple document, see this press release which explains everything: http://www.paymentscouncil.org.uk/media_centre/press_releases/-/page/1995/

If you want more detail, keep reading.

International is detailed at https://www.ukpayments.org.uk/payment_options/cross_border_payments/single_euro_payments_area_(sepa)/

The PSD is summarised at http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/payments/docs/framework/psd_consumers/psd_en.pdf

For detail, see article 69 of the directive:

"Member States shall require the payer's payment service provider to ensure that, after the point in time of receipt in accordance with Article 64, the amount of the payment transaction is credited to the payee's payment service provider's account at the latest by the end of the next business day. Until 1 January 2012, a payer and his payment service provider may agree on a period no longer than three business days. These periods may be extended by a further business day for paper-initiated payment transactions."

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32007L0064:EN:NOT

And finally, the design of the Faster Payments Service can be found at http://www.fasterpayments.org.uk/faster_payments/how_to_use_the_faster_payments_service_new/-/page/1943/

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Re: Irritatingly vague system anyway

I think the outdated information you are working from will be due to the phased introduction of compliance in the UK, the regulations only came into force EU wide on the 1st January 2012, before then there was nothing stopping banks from delaying some payments.

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Thumb Down

It's interesting to read this story. My mortgage payment from LTSB to Halifax went out last night but hasn't been credited to the mortgage. I rang Halifax's mortgage helpline this morning and they denied there was any sort of a problem and to check tomorrow. As a result of this I lose out by about £35 of interest charges.

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Anonymous Coward

Ok...

You shouldn't loose out, just call them up and tell them. Also, £35 for overnight interest charges, really?

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Anonymous Coward

Not shocked.

Wow... They sack their british employee IT workforce and ship to a 90% offshore model, downgrading from the more advanced IT of HBOS to the less technical Lloyds version which uses windows NT and is total crap.

Than wonder why it failed. I am actually surprised that it doesn't happen more often. But the morons in London know best.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not shocked.

Yes, you obviously have an excellent overview of their systems, and I'm sure the high ups will listen to people who say that their OS choice is wrong, the systems are crap and they're all morons.

Hows about considering this: The Lloyds systems stability is pretty well proven, they are well known within Lloyds, the larger organisation, taking over the smaller one. The Lloyds systems are well understood and have had migrations into them performed several times. The Halifax systems, however, are known to be a bit of a nightmare and the integration of BOS into Halifax was a bit of a nightmare, if industry sources are to be understood.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not shocked.

"less technical Lloyds version which uses windows NT"

Cracking bit of BS there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not shocked.

"Hows about considering this: The Lloyds systems stability is pretty well proven" "The Lloyds systems are well understood"

I considered it, and when I stop laughing, maybe sometime next week, I could point out that that isn't entirely accurate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not shocked.

Actually many of the Lloyds systems were older and less functional. Not all but many. The selection process was a done deal and a waste of everyone's time.

And the BOS/Halifax merger went pretty well in my department thanks :)

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Bronze badge

PAYE due today

They going to refund any fines people may incur

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Anonymous Coward

Appalling

In my personal experience, customer service and IT reliability took a big turn for the worse when Bank of Scotland got eaten by Halifax. Before that, you were pretty sure everything would work, and if not there was a rapid personal apology and the problem was fixed.

Halifax's greatest triumph was probably paying off my mortgage twice on the same day, after being specifically told to avoid that. (Then they sent me a form letter asking if I had noticed that I had exceeded my overdraft limit).

Recently, for the best part of a year the Web page for my Halifax MasterCard was grossly deficient. Not only did it not tell me when my next payment was due, it didn't even give a current balance! You could perhaps define that as the simplest and most essential duty of a bank to its current account customers.

As other comments have noted, everything is suffused with a soft mist of deception, euphemism, and equivocation. There is never any honest and open admission of failure, and even when it is blatantly obvious that there has been a cock-up, it is smilingly denied. As for customers, they can complain if they wish to waste their breath, but the very most they will get is an insincere expression of regret from some anonymous underling.

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Bronze badge

Re: Appalling

My experience - customer since the age of eight, when it got me a cuddly toy squirrel; family, customers since my great-uncle was a branch manager - is very similar. As soon as BoS collided with Halifax, the wreckage started decaying: features started getting dropped from online banking, things became less reliable...

Even now my mother's credit card balance isn't visible in their online banking fiasco! Mine is, oddly (though I never use it, keeping it around just in case of 'emergencies'; Amex gives me spending rewards, Barclaycard works well enough for the places that don't take Amex).

I was actually bitten by this outage: my own Amex payment went through (from my BoS account) in about an hour, my mother's BoS card payment was relegated to the next-day route, as was a small transfer to my brother's Royal Bank of Scotland account (paying him for some tickets he'd bought me). Until reading this article I didn't know it was a service outage ... which says something about the quality of BoS communications.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Appalling

That won't be anything to do with Halifax systems. The website got move over to the Lloyds platform nearly two years ago and most of the product systems around the same time. Features were dropped from the platforms in advance of the swap-over though as part of a 'harmonisation' programme so that when the swap-over happened the press release could correctly trumpet that no functionality had been lost as part of the swap. Masterly spin :)

Online banking was a train-wreck after going on the Lloyds platform. Some functionality still isn't back.

The aging HBOS front-office systems which were in the process of getting replaced with an up to date re-write were replaced with an even older Lloyds system with no offline forwarder and that required customers to fill in bits of paper for simple transactions.

Some systems were simply replaced with manual processes, offshored to India.

I could go on but I can't be arsed anymore as I got out :)

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Paris Hilton

This is the same organisation ......

* that sends closure notices on accounts and can't even get the names and numbers to match

* that demands that if a transfer of £8000 is to be made the same day between two accounts of the same organisation held in the same branch, it should be done by means of nine cheques, none of which are to exceed £999.99

* that has written to charities telling them it no longer wishes their business

* that simply insists every time that the customer is wrong

Paris, because even she isn't as stupid and perverse as Lloyds/TSB/Halifax/B of S

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