At first, the TSB computer failure was simply embarrassing: the same bank that had made a song and dance about being a genuine alternative to bigger rivals, such as NatWest and Barclays, had gone into complete meltdown as soon as it tried to do something clever with its systems.
Within days, that farce turned into full-blown crisis. Customers were locked out of their accounts for weeks on end or, when they were able to log in, were shown a stranger’s details.
Now, the crisis has turned into a major scandal that should result in the sacking of the whole executive team as soon as possible.
IT bungle: TSB top brass should hang their heads in shame and pay back every penny to all genuine fraud victims without hesitation
As Money Mail reveals today, a fraud epidemic has broken out at the bank as crooks exploit the chaos and confusion caused by the doomed computer upgrade.
Customers who thought the crisis was over are being robbed of their life savings and left living off tinned beans, begging and borrowing from family and unable to get through to TSB on the phone. Most have no idea if they will ever see their cash again.
Until Money Mail intervened this week, TSB — which we dubbed the Totally Shambolic Bank — was blaming victims for the fraud and routinely denying them refunds.
Yes, some have mistakenly handed over innocuous-looking text message codes to crooks who masqueraded as bank staff.
The customers responded to seemingly genuine messages and calls and, amid concerns about the security of their accounts after the IT bungle, are guilty of being duped by a sophisticated ruse.
But for TSB to exploit banking rules and wash its hands of responsibility is despicable.
It has argued that divulging information to conmen is ‘negligent’ — even if you have no idea you are being duped and hand over nothing more than a six-digit code that appears harmless.
Official fraud rules state that, in these circumstances, victims can be held culpable for any losses. It’s the same selfish, nasty excuse used by TSB’s rivals, whose service it has publicly criticised, to fob off fraud cases.
What a horrific error of judgment by TSB bosses. Surely they see criminals are able to target their customers only because of the chaos they caused in botching the computer system upgrade?
And we await an explanation for how criminals were able to empty bank accounts with only a six-digit code.
The top brass should hang their heads in shame and pay back every penny to all genuine fraud victims without hesitation.
Leaving someone like Tracey Best without cash and feeding her family on tins from her cupboards is among the worst treatment of a bank customer I have ever seen.
Yesterday’s sudden change of tack to say the bank would compensate some customers after all is nowhere near enough.
A month ago, I called on TSB chief Paul Pester to give up his bonus. He obliged later that day to placate angry customers.
Unfortunately, the crisis is now so severe that even if he steps down, the bank may have few customers left by the time his successor is named.
Quite rightly, some readers have pointed out that my crusade to name and shame firms that discriminate against people who don’t want to run their lives over the internet has spared a major culprit: National Savings & Investments.
Its Guaranteed Growth Bonds, popular with pensioners and paying up to 1.95 per cent over two years, are available only online.
Three years ago, NS&I decided customers no longer needed to use the Post Office to open and manage accounts — that was bad enough. But refusing to deal with us over the phone is a step too far.
As our national savings institution, it really should know better.
Thank you for the emails about smart meters in response to last week’s article about the blizzard of junk mail energy suppliers are preparing to send your way.
Bob Fenwick emails with a cracking idea to get your own back. ‘If I get unsolicited mail, I return it without a stamp,’ he writes.
The consequence is that your energy supplier will be forced to pay for the postage.
Faced by a barrage of these letters, a message might get through to the bosses who insist on spamming us with lies about the devices being a ‘legal requirement’.
It’s worth a try if you’ve got time.
THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST CURRENT ACCOUNTS