Updated: 06/10/17 : 07:08:21
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Ulster Bank's 'appalling' treatment of customers

The vast majority of the 3,500 Ulster Bank customers wrongly charged or denied a tracker rate have yet to receive any redress or compensation.

John McGuinness, chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, yesterday described the lender's handling of the tracker scandal as "appalling".

The word 'appalling' would also accurately describe the bank's attitude to its Sligo customers as they continue to curtail services in the region.

Despite local objections by businesses and political representatives the bank closed the Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim branch in 2015. The abandoned customers were informed that their accounts had been transferred to Sligo town, 40 minutes away by car or over an hour by public transport.

That closure came less than a year after the Pearse Rd (Sligo town) branch closed and its customers also being informed to avail of the services of the other town branch on Stephen St.

Last month saw another closure when the Ballymote branch shut up shop for good and its customers informed to use the remaining Sligo town branch, 22 miles away.

Customers visiting that branch have been faced with chaos as long queues for teller service have been growing. The bank in its wisdom cut the six teller stations to two adding to the inconvenience of many. See link below.

Most believed this was a temporary measure however the two remaining teller windows are now a permanent fixture as the bank installs more automatic machines in the now vacated spaces.

This has led to many complaints to management, all to no avail.

To add insult to injury Ulster Bank has provided Ballymote with an antiquated mobile unit which visits the market town for just two hours weekly.

However the unit, which has been in operation in rural Mayo for almost 30 years, does not deal with foreign transactions including Sterling exchange or coinage requirements for local businesses.

Nor can it arrange immediate lodgements. All lodgements, including cash, must await the unit's return to Ballina, Co Mayo before the transactions can be completed.

The Ulster Bank mobile unit on a petrol forecourt crammed between store yards and public toilets

                                                                         Photo: SligoToday.ie

It was disclosed at yesterday's meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform that Ulster Bank caused a family with two children suffering from Asperger's syndrome to sink deeper into debt and reduced spending on food and heating after they were overcharged by the bank for their tracker mortgage.

Ulster Bank's chief executive Gerry Mallon told the committee, "it pains us to see customers in that kind of situation as a direct consequence of the actions of the bank." But he pledged to "make it right for those customers" and acknowledged there was "more work for us to do in being helpful and transparent".

Yet Mr Mallon was unable to clarify when and how much the bank will pay in compensation.

Link : Sligo Today 22/9/2017