HSBC apologises for weekend ATM shutdown

System upgrade left customers unable to withdraw cash, use online services.
HSBC apologises for weekend ATM shutdown
By Damian Reilly
Mon 22 Feb 2010 10:45 AM

HSBC has apologised to UAE customers after a system shutdown left them unable to withdraw cash or use online banking services last weekend, and said that future shutdowns would be adequately flagged up beforehand.

“I can assure you that there has been a conversation subsequently and this won’t happen again, this lack of notification. It won’t happen again,” Tim Harrison, a spokesman for the bank, told Arabian Business.

“There was a sign on the website and there were signs in the branches, but obviously with a lot of remote ATMs we were unable to put signs up everywhere,” he added.

HSBC is believed to have in the region of half a million customers in the UAE. The shutdown was the result of a systems upgrade carried out in coordination with London branches, Harrison said.

“We had a systems issue on Friday and ATMs and internet banking were not working for about eight hours on Friday morning and early afternoon. It was all up and running by mid-afternoon. It was just the UAE,” he said.

HSBC customer Kathryn Smith, an expatriate living in Dubai, said: “My weekend plans were completely ruined by not being able to get money out of the ATM on Friday morning. It is astonishing that HSBC cannot even send me a text to tell me I can’t get access to my money when they are so good at contacting me every time they want me to give them money.”

In the first six months of 2009, HSBC’s operations in the Middle East turned a profit of some $643m. In January the bank delayed for the second time plans to give UAE customers debit cards.

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