We would urge Mr. Pester in all seriousness to stop saying things like “We are on our knees”. The problem with a statement like that, however you preface it, is it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and customers start panicking which is in no one’s interests. In the spontaneous order of the market, words have consequences and he needs to understand that.
There must be something fundamentally wrong with the ProteoUK platform if a crack squad of IBMers are required to fly in and sort the problems out. If the IT team in Sabadell, who have spent two years building and testing the platform haven’t got a clue what the problems are and how to resolve them, it’s difficult to see what IBM are going to bring to the party, other than an extremely large bill. Equally, it’s right that Paul Pester, the current Managing Director of TSB, takes over the running of TSB’s IT platform directly from Sabadell because they have made him look like a complete fool in the eyes of millions of customers over the last few days with his repeated assurances that the system was “up and running”.
But Sabadell are at it again. The IBMers had not yet landed at Bristol airport and Sabadell was issuing press releases saying “normal conditions will be progressively restored over the coming days”. How can they say that when they don’t know what the problems are or how to fix them?
What About Branch and Telephony Staff?
In the same press release Sabadell have said: “From day one the Proteo4UK platform has provided the usual service to branches and ATMs ensuring operational continuity, data integrity and technological security.” That’s complete and utter rubbish. Equally, Mr. Pester keeps going on TV and radio saying that branches are working normally, which is also rubbish.
It’s branch and call centre staff who have been on the receiving end of some of the worst abuse by customers we have ever encountered but they have been offered virtually no support whatsoever from TSB. It would be interesting to know if Mr. Pester has been in a branch since last weekend.
Line Managers are doing their level best to keep things running but it’s creaking at the seams. Staff in contact centres and branches have been working 12-hour shifts since the weekend (with many staff coming in on their days off to help colleagues), in many cases with no breaks, but nobody at the top of the Bank is acknowledging the scale of the problems or, more importantly, offering any solutions whatsoever. We understand the Bank’s need to reassure customers but what about reassuring its own staff that they will be looked after? What is the Bank going to do for those thousands of staff who have shed blood, sweat and lots of tears for TSB this week?
And to add insult to injury we understand that staff in Bristol and Barnwood are being given free food and drink for the next few weeks to recognise their hard work over the last few days. That’s all well and good, but what about the branch and contact centre staff Mr. Pester? What are they getting?
Staff training on the Proteo4UK platform was a joke. Staffing levels have been cut to the bear bones over last few years and there was no way that staff could do their day jobs whilst learning how to operate the new system. In many cases staff were simply rushed through the training to meet area targets and in other cases the training was simply inadequate. The Union and staff have been telling TSB about the quality of training for months but they chose to ignore that and go ahead with the roll out anyway.
Some of the issues that have been identified by members over the last few days are as follows:
- The system is simply not working in many branches and when it does work it’s too slow or keeps crashing. One member of staff said she had served 4 customers with basic transactions in an hour because the system was so slow and it’s just increasing the time customers spend in the queues.
- Staff are having to come in at 7am and leave at 8pm to try and put through transactions such as cheques and bank giro credits and other jobs that they have not been able to do during the day.
- In many branches risk procedures are none existent. We have heard instances of TCRs being emptied whilst customers are still in the branch. Staff are being asked to take cheques to branches where the voucher reader is working.
- If cheques and bank giro credits don’t scan there is no workaround manually to key in the details like there was under the old system.
- Cancelling direct debits, transferring money between accounts and paying bills is impossible in lots of branches and that is causing frustration and anger from customers.
- Some of the error messages on the Proteo4UK system are in Spanish and staff have no idea what they mean.
- Tills have not been balanced since Monday in many branches.
- The electronic journal which staff use to help find till differences doesn’t record all transactions and that’s making it difficult to balance tills.
- Some branches are cancelling appointments with customers because they don’t know how to use the system or because they need to help their colleagues deal with angry customers. In some branches, Area Directors are demanding that appointments are kept, regardless of the number of customers queuing in the branches.
- Faster payments are taking 20 minutes to complete.
- Some of the actions on the Proteo4 platform are simply direct translations from Spanish to English and that’s making it difficult to navigate properly. So for example it says contract number when it actually means account number and that is making the system hard to use efficiently, when it’s working.
Top management is relying on the goodwill of staff to help them out of the hole they have created and many staff have reported coming under increasing pressure to work longer hours, come in early, stay late and work on their off days to help out their colleagues.
The vast majority of staff realise the scale of the problem and are doing that anyway. That said if members feel they are being pressurised to increase their working hours then they should keep a detailed record of what’s being said, tell your Line Manager that you feel uncomfortable continuing the conversation and you want to speak to a Union Representative before continuing. Members can contact the Union’s Bedford Office on 01234 716029.
We would like to hear from members about their continuing experiences of migration. Members can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.