Have NatWest and RBS been swallowing your cash?

RBS branchAP Photo/Sang Tan

NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland have announced that they will be compensating hundreds of thousands of customers who have forgotten to take their money from a cash machine, and had it swallowed up by the ATM.

Shockingly, the money wasn't automatically put back into your bank account if it was left in a machine. So what happened to the cash, and will you get your money back?%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

Swallowed

It will come as a shock to many people that up until now, if you walked away with all or some of your cash still hanging out of the RBS or NatWest cash machine, rather than it being credited to your account it would be put into a separate 'reserves' account, and only given back to you if you requested it. This is counter to most other banks, who will put the cash back into your account automatically.

RBS and NatWest have decided to change their policy on this, and automatically re-credit accounts. They are also compensating people hurt by this policy in the past.

Compensation

Unfortunately they can only go back to transactions in January 2005, as this is when their records stop. However, according to The Telegraph, this is likely to mean a £10 million payout between 300,000 customers.

In a statement, RBS said: ""We are in the process of proactively contacting our RBS and NatWest customers who, according to our records, at some point have not collected all of their dispensed cash. We will be refunding the value of their transactions in full, with an additional goodwill payment."

This means that those who tried to withdraw £50, and ended up only taking £40 of it will have the full £50 refunded. In addition, the bank will calculate the interest that money could have earned if it had been in an instant-access savings account in the intervening period, and will add that to any repayments.

Your rights

It seems that the banks are doing their best to compensate. However, it begs the question of how they could have operated this policy for so long. Surely there's injustice in the fact they knew where the money had come from, and yet they chose not to give it back.

It's a ploy that netted them £10 million in the last seven years so goodness knows what they have made from unwitting customers in earlier years.

It reminds us of two vital points. The first is that we have to keep an eye on our accounts. If something has gone awry at an ATM, don't just assume you have had the money re-credited. Check your own bank's policy on this, and your statement. We need to keep a close eye to check we are not losing out.

The second point is that the banks have a million small ways to make cash out of us. They may be claiming to be cleaning up their act and behaving responsibly and fairly, but there is a long way to go, and plenty of these hidden tricks left to come out of the woodwork.

It pays to err on the side of cynicism when dealing with the banks and their fat cats, and if in doubt, check to make sure you haven't been ripped off.
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