RBS is warning its 17 million customers that the backlog caused by a technical glitch could take at least another two days to clear, meaning that the computer failure will have lasted for more than a week.
Customers deluged online forums with complaints yesterday, saying that they were unable to pay bills and were concerned about the impact it could have on their credit ratings.
The crisis has hit customers at RBS and two of its subsidiaries, NatWest and Ulster, and the bank admitted that the chaos caused by a technical glitch is so severe that it does not even know how many accounts are affected.
Yesterday, more than 1,200 NatWest branches were opened on a Sunday for the first time in its history, while a further 1,000 branches will be open until 7pm today in an attempt to ease the problem.
RBS has pledged to compensate affected customers by refunding overdraft charges or penalty fees incurred because of the computer glitch, and help them deal with credit rating agencies. However, it was not clear how long it would take to make refunds.
The Financial Services Authority, the regulator, urged other banks to be “lenient” with their own customers if they missed payments because transfers from RBS accounts had not come through.
The banks have pledged to refund their customers, but only if they contact them directly and are able to prove they have been hit by the technical failure.
Andrew Tyrie, the chairman of the Commons Treasury select committee, said: “It seems scarcely credible that something like this, which has caused problems for hundreds of thousands of people, could have gone on for so long. No doubt the committee will want a full explanation.”
Thousands of NatWest customers vented their frustrations on the bank’s website, with many saying they were running short of money to buy food or pay bills. “You have stuffed us,” said one from Corby, Lincs.
Susan Allen, the director of customer services at RBS Group, said: “The knock-on effects of this technical failure mean there will be bumps in the road. We will do everything we can to minimise further disruption.”
An RBS spokesman said it was “cautiously optimistic” it would get many of the problems sorted out today. He said that the IT issues would “not be done and dusted until Tuesday at least” and may persist for even longer.
Customers accused RBS of shedding staff and encouraging more customers to bank online, leaving people dependent on its website.