We are now into week 6 and the misery continues for TSB staff and customers with no end date in sight. The IT meltdown has gone on for so long that Paul Pester, TSB Managing Director, has been called back to give evidence in front of the Treasury Select Committee just weeks after chairman Nicky Morgan said his last performance was “the most staggering example of a chief executive who seems unwilling to realise the scale of the problem.” We suspect that Mr Pester will be more sanguine on Wednesday given that for all his froth, the Bank’s IT system is still not fixed. Not a day goes by without another TSB problem being splashed all over the newspapers and social media sites. What staff will desperately want to know is when will this shambles end?

We understand that at the beginning of last week, TSB had received some 65,000 complaints with hundreds more coming in every day. One member of staff working in the department logging the complaints said: “they had stopped counting because there are just so many”. But that tells only part of the story because large numbers of customers are simply closing their accounts rather than going to the bother of complaining and that’s going to affect the long-term viability of the Bank. We will be covering this issue in more detail in a separate Newsletter. In fact, it’s got so bad the Bank has introduced a new twilight shift running from 5pm – 11pm to deal with the large number of complaints from customers.

And in another own goal, those staff dealing with the complaints, who are working most evenings, weekends and bank holidays, received 3 bars of chocolate, wrapped in a pretty ribbon with a message from Helen Rose, Chief Operating Officer, who together with Paul Pester was responsible for the biggest IT meltdown in the finance sector, thanking them for their hard work over the past few weeks. Whilst the chocolate was no doubt appreciated, staff would much prefer to be compensated financially for their hard work over the last five weeks.

At the last Treasury Select Committee hearing, Richard Meddling, the Chairman of TSB said: “I would like to both pay tribute to and thank the partners and staff of TSB, whether it is in the branches, the call centres or the offices, because they are working heroically hard under really a lot of stress. It is a lot of stress because the systems have let them down, but our people are working immensely hard to try to help customers through this situation. I would like publicly here to thank them for that.”

The Union’s claim for a payment to all staff of at least £1,000 is still outstanding and needs to be addressed immediately. The differences between the BEC and the Board on this issue need to be put to one side.

Sickness Epidemic

Staff in branches and call centres are being abused by customers on almost a daily basis and it seems to be getting worse. TSB staff, who incidentally have just received one of the lowest annual pay increases in the finance sector, are not paid enough for dealing with such abuse and an IT system that simply doesn’t work. If Rachel Lock, the Bank’s HR Director, doesn’t believe us then she should spend a few days taking calls at the Sunderland Contact Centre. There has been no HR engagement with staff since the IT meltdown began. Staff are at their wits end and many of them have simply reported in sick. We understand that in some areas of the business sickness levels have increased by 25% since the IT meltdown began. We are also aware the Bank has started to recruit agency staff to deal with the staffing levels problems and contacted ex-members of staff to see if they would be prepared to help out in branches in the short term. These are merely sticking plasters and what the Bank needs to set out quickly what it’s going to do to ensure that staff can work in an environment free from abuse.

Sunderland Contact Centre   

Members in Sunderland have reported receiving the most vicious abuse from customers they’ve ever seen and they don’t seem to be getting any support at all from local management. Staff also have to deal with a system that’s crashing constantly and doesn’t seem fit for purpose. Some of the key issues are:

  • Local management have started monitoring average handling times again and are putting pressure on staff to get through the calls quicker despite the fact that the system is complicated and staff were not properly trained on how to use it. At his last Treasury Select Committee hearing, Paul Pester said: “we are not rushing our partners in dealing with those calls, because we wish to deal with the customer’s issue”. Any talk of AHT should be abandoned until after the IT crisis is over.
  • The ‘Working On Behalf Of’ (WOBO) system, which is the telephony system for simple transactions, is not working and staff are using the branch system for which they received no training. Proteo is more complicated and is making simple tasks much slower.
  • The customer verification process is still not working properly and staff don’t know which questions customers have been asked and they are using work around questions.  Staff are concerned that they could be letting would-be fraudsters through the system. One member of staff said that “high security tasks such as international money transfers and bill payments are being authorised by line management without the right level of security”.
  • Staff have to learn the system themselves and many are using work-arounds just to get basic tasks completed for customers. Many are concerned that when the dust settles their mistakes, and there will be many, will be seized upon by local management. Let’s be absolutely clear, we will not allow that to happen and will do everything to make sure there is no witch-hunt; if and when the new system is running properly.

Staff need to be heard and we will do that through regular Newsletters. Members with any questions can contact the Union’s Bedford office on 01234 716029 or they can email us at 24hours@tbuonline.co.uk.

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