back to article Natwest, RBS: When will bank glitch be fixed? Probably not today

On the fourth day of a IT systems choke-up that has left customers unable to access money and in some cases unable to buy food or travel, Natwest and RBS – which both belong to the RBS group – still have no idea when the issues will be fixed. A spokesperson said the banking group had been working overnight to fix the problems …

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    1. Silverburn
      Thumb Up

      Re: Train of thought

      Comment of the week!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Comment of the week?

        More like the year, don't remember seeing three-digit "like"s before... good stuff sir!

    2. NoHttpsHere :(
      Thumb Up

      Re: Train of thought

      Posted Friday 22nd June 2012 11:22 GMT

      thesykes:

      'To me, there are two trains of thought that exist in management.'

      This post nailed it...........

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Re: Train of thought

        That's news to me.... managers think!!!!

  1. JimmyPage

    Wait till the lawsuits start

    whilst an hour or two outage would be dismissed by the courts as "reasonable" within the banks T&Cs (which will try to remove any liability from the bank for any loss due to it's actions), I suspect a 4 day outage would be considered unreasonable, and consequential losses *will* be awarded.

    Just the thought of the hundreds of claims through the courts, and having to argue each one on merit should keep the lawyers on the toilets for the next decade.

    Once the final liablity has been costed, I wonder it IT staff will seem quite so expendable on a risk/return assesment. We need a bewigged icon with the caption "wait till the lawyers get there"

    1. Anonymous Coward 101
      FAIL

      Re: Wait till the lawsuits start

      But they have already said that nobody will be left out of pocket. The lawyers have no need to be involved here.

      1. JimmyPage
        Mushroom

        Are you really that thick ?

        suppose a business has been unable to access it's account, and pay a supplier, and as a result they go bankrupt ?

        Supposing, thanks to their incompetence, I am unable to pay for my cars service, and therefore can't get to a business meeting ?

        As I said, T&Cs can be used to protect you from consequential losses, in reasonable circumstances. A 4 day, unplanned, unannounced outage is not reasonable in my book, not I suspect would the high court find so either.

        I am taking your comment at face value. I apologise if you were being ironic.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait till the lawsuits start

      I worked for a building society on mortgage systems and in a decade, we once serious outage, where the system went down for nearly a whole day because of a disk crash. Our overnight update was built up of a series of jobs for different purposes, each creating daily transaction records, with one program at the end that applied them all. The benefit was that if someone buggered up one of the overnight update programs, the rest would still get through, and the program that applied the transactions almost never changed.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Wait till the lawsuits start

        A relative once had to pay a day's interest on the price of a house because the payments transfer system caused his completion to fail. The bank wriggled out of its liability citing T&Cs. The glitch was only a few tens of minutes, late in the banking day. Mercifully the person whose house he was buying did let him move in, even though he hadn't yet paid for it.

        But I doubt that the bank could escape liability for *several* days' failure and interest. If they try, the lawyers sure as hell *will* be involved. Wonder if it affects hundred-M completions as well as hundred-k completions?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait till the lawsuits start

      They won't start. BPO and ITO vendors write and sign contracts every week. Buyers sign such contracts once in a flood. As a result the vendors run rings round the buyers, and there's no chance that the bunglers of RBS would be able to pin something on the ITO.

      And of course, are RBS management inconvenienced? Nope, they've got big credit balances and multiple accounts. Are the 1% inconvenienced? Nope, they bank with Coutts. It's the plebs who spend most of their salary or pension each month who are in the crap. And I can assure you that RBS won't go fighting for justice for the likes of you and I.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought I heard NatWest (the helpful bank) say somewhere

    'no one will be out of pocket because of this'

    Does anyone with a NatWest account want to lend me a tenner at a bazigilliion percent interest and a trimegazillion quid administration fee until monday and we'll split the compensation when it comes through?

    I guess I'm paying the compensation

    *always lose*

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just one more reason

    To have a lump of gold and a suitcase of money under your bed.... and comprehensive contents insurance (always check the small print).

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Just one more reason

      "to have .... " that is investment based on pure speculation on the future value of whatever-it-is-you-want-to-hold. This includes gold, cash or government bonds (hints: commodity rates, inflation, yields).

    2. cliveski
      Devil

      Re: Just one more reason

      Trusting insurance companies more than banks - now that IS brave :-)

      1. Velv Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Just one more reason

        Have you seen how much of the insurance market is underwritten by RBS owned underwriters?

    3. Nigel 11
      Mushroom

      Re: Just one more reason

      No suitcase of money. A well-stuffed wallet will suffice while people still think it's just a glitch. Only gold will be accepted after it becomes clear that TS really has hit TF. And be very careful who you let know that you've got gold, because of the knives and the guns.

      Pray it never happens.

  4. Tom Wood

    Pro tip

    Have two accounts, at different and unrelated banks, so you can always get some money somehow.

    1. AmandaJayne

      Re: Pro tip

      That's all very well, if you're not waiting for your wages to go into one of those accounts...

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Pro tip

        It's fairly OK even if you are. Just make sure you're clear to overdraw the one that your salary *doesn't* go into (or, better, that it's a savings account, if you have any savings).

      2. Gavin 2

        Re: Pro tip

        All doesn't work when your work place banks with Natwest and cant pay you regardless of your bank

        1. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: Pro tip

          Are you really saying that you don't have enough savings anywhere to tide you over for day to day expenses for a couple of days? We're not even talking about the big non-cash outgoings - your mortgage, car repayments, insurance etc - those can be sorted out later if need be. It isn't as if this particular snafu has not been extensively publicised. Hell, when I've worked anywhere that involves payment processing all user memos get sent round for issues far less significant than this.

    2. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Pro tip

      I've done that for a long time, since "bank A" fouled up big-time on a direct debit. Now I keep my direct debits with "bank A" and my money "safe" with "bank B".

  5. Gordan

    Proof banks are not systemically important

    Maybe this is a good thing in disguise. It shows that banks aren't important enough to prevent them from going bust. We can make do without them. Maybe we should see this as a preparation run for pulling life support plug on the lot of them.

    1. yeahyeahno
      FAIL

      Re: Proof banks are not systemically important

      Your level of fail at understanding systematic failure and the importance of banks is breath taking.

      But you've clearly either not bothered to read about it and learn, or have chosen to ignore what you've read so there is no point in rehearsing the arguments here for you now.

      1. yeahyeahno

        Re: Proof banks are not systemically important

        For the fools that don't grasp the problem with bank failures, even "technical" ones like this should read this story http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18547149 and explain to me how workers on strike, unpaid wages and customers not having their orders fulfilled is not systematic failure.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GNEP

    In RBS parlance (I used to call it RBSBS), a GNEP is a Group Notifiable Event Process

    "A notifiable event is when something happens that could cause damage to the Group by adversely affecting our customers, our finances or our reputation."

    I'd hate to be the poor soul that had to raise this GNEP...

    1. Nigel 11

      "You know all those staff you insisted we let go last year ...."

      <letters>.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outsourcing

    The experience of outsourcing is frequently terrible, for the simple reason that custom software isn't like business cards or the car fleet. For one thing, car production is a repeated action, so you get economies of scale. Custom software is like custom anything, it doesn't scale.

    On top of that, there's often a confusion between the value that internal people bring, which is long-term experience of the software rather than experience of the technology. Someone who's been looking after a DB for 10 years doesn't need to look things up. You ask them how to find out the customer's name and address, and they'll tell you the service to use or the database fields to use.

    What consultancies do is to always look to reduce costs. They'll often start you off with really good, experienced people, then once the consultancy has its feet under the table, they start putting graduate trainees on. You won't know this, or see any discount in your fees. You'll only find out when they screw things up. But this also means that they're moving staff off and on quite frequently.

    The best run IT functions I've seen have been in-house with mostly homegrown systems and a few packages where the package was clearly a good fit. The words "we'll just get SAP and adapt it for our needs" are a sure sign that you have morons running your company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Outsourcing

      "The words "we'll just get SAP and adapt it for our needs" are a sure sign that you have morons running your company."

      Been there, done that, have the scars to prove it. Thank God, I am out of here. So sick of the absolute bullshit being spouted by the consultants that know f*** all about either the business processes used or the software they're supposed to be experts in.

      Really pissed off with managers that refuse to use the correct SAP processes, then complain that things don't work, or expect me to instantly fix their cockups when it suddenly stops working because of something that they have done, but refuse to discuss what it was they did.

      Really, really, sick and tired of the marketing bilge pumped out that portrays SAP as anything other than a massive scheme to screw every last penny out of c-level execs that think they are IT experts because they can send an email from their iPhones.

      Utterly gob smacked that anyone can believe it makes sense to outsource the servers when the orignal costs quoted by the hosting company are higher than the internal IT budget.

      So long, and thanks for all the stress

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Outsourcing

        "The words "we'll just get SAP and adapt it for our needs" are a sure sign that you have morons running your company."

        Nah, the root cause here will be Access '97 - and it'll be a password protected database built by an ops manager too! :-D

    2. irish donkey

      Re: Outsourcing

      hmmmmm Premier Brand perhaps

  8. Scott Mckenzie

    Apparently

    We have been told at work (as it's affecting us there) that the issue was down to an update to the Mobile Banking App, it failed and had a domino effect that was 'unforeseen' and has pretty much broken everything!

    Which is nice.

    1. Tim Almond
      WTF?

      Eh?

      How does the mobile banking app have a "domino effect"? How is it anything but a thin UI that talks to web services to get or put data? How does it stop transactions from an overnight run from BACS getting through?

      1. Nick 6
        Windows

        Re: Eh?

        Well they launched some new payments facility on mobile, and those payments go might go share some infrastructure as the batch or other payments, they could have a knock-on effect.

        For example perhaps there is a much higher volume than predicted. Or those mobile payments result in a much higher CPU cost or transaction time through the shared payments processing engine. Or connections to external interfaces e.g. for faster payments.

        Don't have an inside information though, these are just guesses.

        1. mrfill
          FAIL

          Re: Eh?

          How about this for a guess...

          They made a change and didn't test it properly.

          Another money saving master plan...

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Happy

            Re: Eh?

            Hmmm testing. I'm sure I've heard of this from somewhere...

            Maybe we should get some of that?

            An RBS executive

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Eh?

            I'm sure the QC process (since the QC teamed was "right sized and shifted to a low cost region" is now

            it compiled with no major errors -ship it

        2. QuiteEvilGraham
          FAIL

          Re: Eh?

          Ah - if I recall RBS correctly, then the sequence of processing will be something like this (admittedly speculative, things may have changed).

          RBS have a system called Accounting Interface. It applies various accounting "rules" which reconcile the path of monetary transactions from, say, a cash withdrawal from an ATM (say, a Barclays one) back to the original customer account from which the money is debited. These transactions are then fed into the main batch account update program, and everything should reconcile at the end of exercise.

          So a mobile payment would result in (possibly):

          passage through some gateway to be added to a list of mobile transactions, which would then end up in a transaction file fed into their batch systems (plenty of scope for bog-up here).

          In batch, these transactions are typically expanded by other generated transactions such as:

          a) a debit from a holding account for the new mobile app

          b) a credit back to that holding account from the customer account

          c) a debit from the customer account

          d) a credit to another holding account for transactions to the target of the payment

          e) a debit from that holding account when the payment is transferred to the bank of the payee

          and so on...

          If the accounting rules governing each of these transactions are bogged-up in some way, the main batch account system (which updates EVERY account) will not reconcile properly, and panic will ensue. To fix this, the transactions via mobile would have to be corrected and everything re-run from that point. And then re-tested quite a few times to make sure they are correct this time.

          Anyway, fun to speculate exactly what went wrong (I don't bank with RBS BTW).

      2. Oliver Mayes

        Re: Eh?

        Or perhaps the mobile app had some debug code left in it that wasn't supposed to run on their live servers?

        One rogue DROP statement can cause havoc if they don't have proper backups and DR policies.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Eh?

          If it were a simple dropped table or the like a disk snapshot recovery would be the first port of call, followed by tape recovery. RBS have a truly massive storage and backup & recovery infrastructure.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eh?

        "how does it have a domino effect?"

        Because the mobile app is not simply accessing a web front of existing services, it is accessing the payment transactions back end which will need to have been modified to handle the different types of transactions, and this potentially requires changes to the entire CAUSTIC transaction processing service.

  9. Ye Gads
    Alert

    On the plus-side, all RBS Group employees are forced to have an RBS/Natwest account into which their salary will be paid. This happens around the 24th of each month.

    Yep, you guessed it: RBS and Natwest probably won't be able to pay their staff until they fix the problem so they will be feeling their customers pain.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Snowy

        So got paid just before it all went tits up...

    2. Crisp

      You can bet that Philip Hampton and Stephen Hester wont be going hungry next week. The only RBS Group employees that will be feeling any pain are the low paid staff subsisting from paycheck to paycheck.

    3. sugerbear

      That doesn't apply to the guys in Mumbai. You know, the ones fixing the problem ;o)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually...

      Salaries are paid into accounts on the 18th of the month, unless it happens to be a weekend or a bank holiday. Staff were paid on Monday.

  10. DrXym Silver badge

    "Vast complexity"

    I would not be surprised at the end of the day that the failure was caused by something extremely trivial. An expired cert, a botched software upgrade, a misconfigured proxy, a power failure inside a centre, some doofus typing rm -rf in the wrong folder.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: "Vast complexity"

      "An expired cert"

      I read that as an expired cat!

      Still, if they've run out of cheese, the mice will be running everywhere and if they've only got one cat (the rest are all in India) then I'm not surprised it's probably dead from extertion.

      1. Nigel 11
        Joke

        I read that as an expired cat!

        Have you ever seen the damage that mice will do to the wiring under the floor of the server room?

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