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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 16:25 GMT
Barclays computer glitch hits payments
A Barclays cash machine
Some customers may find their accounts empty
A computer problem at Barclays bank has delayed salary and other payments that should have been made on Thursday to hundreds of thousands of people.

The fault was with the overnight processing of regular payments which were scheduled to be made by 20,000 business customers of Barclays to their staff and suppliers.


The first we knew about it was when our staff came in this morning asking 'Why haven't we been paid yet?'

Alan Calder, Wide Learning
The problem has the potential to plunge many bank users into the red, as many people coordinate direct debits to pay mortgages and other major bills at the time they get paid.

The bank says the money will be in the right accounts by Tuesday. In the meantime Barclays has asked other banks to let their customers go overdrawn for a few days.

Disruption

Barclays said the problems occurred on Tuesday night, which meant that payments due to go through on Thursday were delayed.

It said it started telling businesses of the problem on Wednesday when the scope of the problem became clearer.


It couldn't have happened at a worst time with the long bank holiday weekend ahead of us

Gill Alker
Barclays said it had asked other banks to be "understanding" regarding payments out of the accounts of affected customers.

The bank has contacted other banks through the central clearing system, and says it should still be possible for people to take money out via cash machines even if the money has not arrived in their account.

But HSBC has said that, because of technical reasons, its account holders will not be able to get money through cash machines if they go over their limit.

Barclays has asked other banks to let their customers withdraw cash today if they present a wage or salary slip showing that their employer is a customer of Barclays whose expected payment has been disrupted.

It also has said it will reimburse anyone who incurs bank charges from going overdrawn as a result of the delays.

"We apologise to anyone affected by this situation and we are acting to ensure it does not happen again," Barclays said.

Bad timing

Gill Alker contacted BBC News Online after her salary was delayed.

traffic jam
Heading for a weekend break - but have they been paid?
"It couldn't have happened at a worst time with the long bank holiday weekend ahead of us," she said.

"I've moved savings across to my current account but HSBC were willing to let me withdraw money on sight of my salary slip."

But others have not been so fortunate.

"I have three small children who were looking forward to a lovely break, now we will be limited in what we do," said Raj Singh.

  Click here to see more readers' experiences

'It's pathetic'

Wide Learning - an internet training company - was one of the many businesses to be affected.

"The first we knew about it was when our staff came in this morning asking 'Why haven't we been paid yet?'" chief executive Alan Calder told BBC News Online.

After checking that their own paperwork was in order, the firm finally learnt of Barclays' problems from a bank official.

He said the problem should be sorted out on Friday or Tuesday next week.

But Mr Calder said that will not help those of his 65 employees who have direct debits set up to go out on the day they get paid.

"It's pathetic," said Mr Calder.

"It's nonsense that my business had to come to a halt for a few hours this morning while we chased round trying to sort things out."


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The BBC's Rebecca Pike
"Barclays have apologised to everyone affected by this computer glitch"
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08 Feb 01 | Business
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