HSBC have told business banking customers that they may be entitled to a refund on any fees incurred during a recent online banking outage.
Around lunchtime on January 5th, the HSBC UK Business Twitter account tweeted: “We have identified an internal technical issue with our online banking services and are working very hard to resolve the issue. We appreciate your patience while we rectify this issue and can’t apologise enough for the disruption this is causing.”
Shortly afterwards, the account tweeted again, this time assuring followers that any fees incurred due to the outage would be waived.
By 6pm the bank added that a “steady return” to operational online banking services had been seen, but that it was still closely monitoring the website’s performance.
However, some business banking customers still had difficulty in accessing their account – with many being told by HSBC’s Twitter team to clear their cookies, cache and browser history before trying again, or simply to expect their business banking account to open in a new window temporarily.
Following the incident, HSBC added an apology to the Customer Information page of their website:
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers by the recent issues affecting access to our Online Banking, especially those customers unable to make payments.
“If this is the case, we will ensure customers do not lose out as a result. Specifically we will refund/waive any unarranged overdraft charges or manual payment fees incurred for Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th January.
“In relation to any other financial detriment caused by the outages, we will review all claims on a case by case basis.”
The notice added that business banking customers with questions or concerns should contact their relationship manager, or contact HSBC directly via the online form on the website, or by email to the commercial customer relations department.
With many businesses opening for the first time since Christmas on January 4th, the outage is likely to have caused several late payments – and no doubt caused some already-late payments to go even further overdue.
The incident may still raise questions about whether late payment fees incurred on invoices that were already overdue should be refunded in whole or in part by HSBC, or whether they were already the responsibility of the account holder
However, there is also a lasting lesson to be learned about the importance of paying debts with time to spare, rather than waiting until the deadline day and risking the payment being delayed by a similar kind of technical difficulty.