NatWest’s new cheque scanning system has let me down

I run a small manufacturing business in Devon. We bank with NatWest and have some clients who still pay their accounts by cheque.

NatWest has implemented a new cheque scanning system which will supposedly improve its processes.

We paid in two cheques three weeks ago and the following day they twice removed the funds from one of them – £1,629.90 – from our account. We were told the cheque had bounced.

Our customer, who also banks with NatWest, showed us evidence that the sum had been debited from their account.

Our NatWest complaints handler has admitted they have been inundated with issues caused by this new system and currently can do nothing further to help us. Her ­recommendation is that our customer pays us again and NatWest will refund them.

A month later and we are no ­further forward. Luckily we have enough money in our account to cover it. I wonder how many other small businesses are affected.
JF, South Molton, Devon

New software rolled out last year allows banks to exchange digital images of cheques rather than manually process the paper version.

The aim is to reduce the processing time from up to six days to 24 hours. Inevitably the immediate effect seems to have been the ­complete opposite.

NatWest tells me the new system has “teething issues” and caused “processing delays” for some customers. However, it insists your saga was due to human error – an error that was miraculously corrected as soon as I contacted the press office.

A NatWest spokesperson said: “We apologise unreservedly for the inconvenience caused. We are continuing to work with our frontline teams to ensure they have the tools and skills to support customers and get things right first time.”

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