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22nd June 2012

Ulster Bank must keep branches open to help customers and other banks must do their part to help wor

The Consumer Council is asking Ulster Bank to ensure that all their branches are open for their customers this weekend and for other banks to show compassion to consumers who are affected by the Ulster Bank technical problem. Ulster Bank, a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), has given an indication that the technical difficulties have been resolved - however it could be the middle of next week before the backlog in processing debits and credits is cleared.

Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council said:  “Ulster Bank is planning to have less than a third of their branches open until 7pm tonight.  The Consumer Council is asking Ulster Bank to make sure all their branches are open across Northern Ireland this weekend to help worried customers and help deal with the backlog.  We are hearing many stories of people who are badly affected by delayed salary and benefits payments reaching their account - all of which is preventing people from going about their day to day lives, paying for rent, food, transport and bills.  Ulster Bank must prioritise the needs of their customers and open all branches across Northern Ireland this weekend to make it as easy as possible for consumers to access cash, to enable staff to process credit and debit payments and resume full services by Monday.  The Consumer Council is also making a plea for other banks to show compassion and flexibility to their consumers who have been affected by this problem through no fault of their own.”    

The Consumer Council has available a fact sheet to help consumers – this can be found on the Consumer Council website atwww.consumercouncil.org.uk  or can telephone 0800 121 6022 for a hard copy.

If you are unhappy with service from your bank, you should complain directly to them in the first instance.  If you are not satisfied with their response you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).  The FOS helps settle individual disputes between banks and their customers and it is completely impartial and free.  Call 0800 0 234 567 or go to www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk