* Branches to stay open two hours later on Monday
* Extended opening hours throughout week
* Customers critical of bank on its website
By Matt Scuffham
LONDON, June 25 Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)
was expected to face a bill of 100 million pounds ($156
million) or more from last week's computer systems failure that
caused massive disruption for millions of customers.
British lender RBS said on Monday it will operate extended
hours at 1,200 of its NatWest branches for the rest of the week,
having opened for business for the first time on a Sunday in its
44-year history as staff struggled to help customers.
Over 900 branches will be open until 1800 GMT on Monday, two
hours later than usual, in a response to the crisis that one
banking industry source estimated would cost between 100 million
pounds and 200 million.
RBS, 82 percent owned by the government, must pay the extra
costs of opening the branches for longer and drafting in over
7,000 staff over the weekend, as well as compensating customers
for difficulties arising from missed payments.
"Subject to a relatively quick resolution and the avoidance
of a doomsday scenario, I think it will be manageable and cost
in the tens of millions, maybe nudging 100 million," Investec
analyst Ian Gordon said.
RBS, already facing a bill of more than 1 billion pounds to
compensate customers for the mis-selling of loan insurance,
would not comment on the likely costs.
NatWest staff are battling to get on top of a huge backlog
of failed payments after a software upgrade went wrong,
resulting in the bank being unable to process payments for its
personal and business customers.
The resulting chaos - which left businesses unable to pay
staff, bills left unpaid and customers struggling to complete
house purchases - is a public relations disaster for NatWest,
which could prompt customers to switch their accounts to rivals.
"NatWest should sort this mess out fast and once they have
returned our money, everyone involved should change banks," a
NatWest customer from Norwich in the east of England said on the
Another complained about having to feed a family on a budget
of 30 pounds as a result of unpaid wages.
In a message posted on the website, Chief Executive Stephen
Hester said customers should approach the bank directly to seek
compensation. Analysts said claims management companies (CMCs)
could look to cash in as they have done with claims over
mis-sold loan insurance.
CMCs, who take a sizeable chunk of any compensation in
return for handling claimants' paper work, have been criticised
by banks for wasting their time and money pursuing bogus claims.
"There will be a bunch of the usual parasite agencies which
will suddenly say 'Have you been impacted by this?', you can
claim," said Mike Trippett of Oriel Securities.
The episode is a further embarrassment for Hester, who
admitted in February he had considered resigning following a
public outcry over a proposed 1 million pound bonus payment
which he opted to waive following pressure from politicians.
"This is one of the most widespread customer-service
failures that we have had in recent memory. The CEO is under
pressure to deliver a quick and appropriate fix," said