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Long-lasting glitch proves Royal pain
June 5, 2004
Toronto Star

For thousands of Canadians, banking remains a Royal mess.

The Royal Bank of Canada continues to lag behind on processing transactions, after a computer error Monday.

Many branches will offer extended hours today, in light of the ongoing problems.

Royal Bank spokesperson Judi Levita said the bank expects to get everything resolved over the weekend.

While the Royal won't discuss the root of the problem, computer experts suggest it could be as simple as a keystroke error made by a bank employee updating software.

"Rather than running info automatically, we've had to manually verify data at key points. That's what's slowing the problem down," Levita said.

The situation has left Royal customers like Eve Harris of Toronto in a real bind.

As an executive assistant for Greyhound Canada, Harris' paycheque should have gone into her account in the wee hours of Thursday morning. But the transaction still hadn't been processed by Thursday evening.

When Harris said she couldn't wait until the computers were fixed to get her money, the bank suggested she take out a line of credit at 6.5 per cent interest.

"That left me flabbergasted," Harris said. "The bank screwed up and didn't transfer my payroll money and then they use the opportunity to sell me an interest-bearing loan." Harris has been a Royal Bank customer for 12 years. But now she's seriously considering taking her money elsewhere.

"I operate paycheque to paycheque," Harris said. "I literally have $12 in my account. We are a single income family with a child. I have to buy groceries and TTC tokens and have money for laundry."

Harris said Thursday night a customer service representative told her the bank could not put her paycheque through, but they could offer her a pre-approved line of credit for $10,000 at 6.5 per cent interest.

Levita said she was shocked when she heard the way Harris was treated.

"They should not have done that. That's terrible," she said. "I completely understand her frustration."

Harris eventually managed to convince the customer service rep to give her access to $700 through her checking account. The rep also promised her that all service fees would be waived.

When Harris went to the bank machine the next day, however, a message appeared saying that transaction fees would be waived, but overdraft interest fees would still apply.

Harris got a customer service agent to agree to waive all fees, but after all the trouble she had been through she said she wanted the agreement in writing. The bank told her to come back in a few hours and she could pick up a letter.

But when she returned, the bank said they didn't have a letter for her. One of the bank managers insisted she'd have to get a letter waiving all fees from her own branch, Harris said.

Levita insists that isn't necessary.

"We have put in a statement that we do not expect any service fees or overdraft interest to appear in accounts and if they do appear they will be refunded," she said. "It's in writing. She will not incur fees."

Eventually, Harris said, the bank manager agreed to let her have the money without any fees whatsoever.

Harris is still livid that she had to fight so hard just to get at her own money.

"First, they try to sell me a line of credit, then they try to offer me an overdraft, and then finally they offer me my own money - as a last resort!

"I'm just a drop in the bucket," said Harris. "There are thousands of people like me in the same boat."

According to the bank, a list of the branches that will offer extended hours today was to be put online at www.rbcroyalbank.com.

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