TSB bank faces bad start as website crashes on first day

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TSB

It wasn't the start that TSB was hoping for as a stand-alone bank. Antonio Horta-Osorio, chief executive of Lloyds, had promised customers a smooth transition to the bank - back on the high street after an 18 year absence today.

However, on Sunday Lloyds Group launched new websites for the banks, and within hours, the internet banking functionality on all the Lloyds TSB group banks websites except RBS failed. So should Lloyds and TSB customers be worried?


Failure

The hanging of the websites was a major inconvenience to many, because it meant that people could not do their internet banking. Social media was filled with the frustration of customers. ‏@Biltawulf said: "I hope the long term effects of the Lloyds TSB split are not limited to me being unable to access my account online as they are presently." ‏@SmithsatNo4 said: "Trying to run a ‪#SmallBiz‬ & ‪@TSB‬ ‪#Bank‬ has let us down on their first day! Think it's time to move ‪#banks‬! ‪@LiveShopLocal‬ ‪#indieretail‬"

To make matters worse, people started to worry that they had been moved to TSB and not informed. Lisa Ranf said: "‪@AskLloydsTSB‬ am I with Lloyds ? Or TSB? Can't log in anywhere grrrr". ‏@dimdom said: "Hmm. Tried logging into Internet Banking with Lloyds and can't. Tried logging into IB with TSB and can't. Am I bankless? :S"

Response

Internet banking on the TSB site is up and running again here. Meanwhile, Lloyds Banking Group issued a statement saying: "We are experiencing an issue with our Internet banking service this morning, which has affected the ability of some customers to log on successfully. We are working to resolve this as quickly as we can and we apologise to customers for the inconvenience this will have caused. Our branches, telephone banking and cashpoint facilities have not been affected in any way."

Lloyds said that the problems are now intermittent, and will be resolved shortly. There are reports that the banks were blaming unexpected volumes of traffic - although it begs the question of why they weren't prepared for so many people to log on to check their new bank account worked.

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So is this a worrying sign?

The split of Lloyds TSB is a complex business, and this looks distinctly like falling at the first hurdle. Lloyds has been forced to split up the group as part of the deal when the taxpayer took a 39% stake in the group - bailing it out of the dark hole it fell into during the credit crisis.

It was meant to spin off 631 branches - including all the Cheltenham and Gloucester branches and all Lloyds branches in Scotland - and then sell them to the Co-Operative bank, but after that calamity, the bank has moved onto plan B - where it spins out TSB, floats it as a standalone business in 2014 - and will pay back the taxpayers though the IPO.

Today is the start of that process. From 9am this morning, 4.5 million former Lloyds TSB customers will officially become TSB customers.

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Smooth?

The idea was that in the early days, customers would notice very little difference. They will have received a new debit card a few weeks ago, and their local branch will be rebranded, but for now everything else will stay the same. The bank will continue to be owned by the Lloyds TSB group too. It's only over the next few months that TSB will start to launch its own products.

This glitch will give customers pause for thought - raising concerns that all the assurances that everything will stay the same may not hold water.

For many the issues will continue. If, for example, your branch isn't local to you, this could cause some headaches. If you opened a Lloyds account in Scotland and then moved to England, your account will be TSB, but you may not have a branch locally to enable you to do things like pay in cheques. For the time being you can use your local Lloyds, but after the TSB branches are sold, you won't be able to do this any more.

Perhaps this is a good time for customers to remember that they don't have to spin off in the TSB split. They don't have to stay with Lloyds either. There are plenty of banks out there, many offering more competitive products and scoring more favourably on customer service. Perhaps this is a good time for us all to consider the options available to us.

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