Most of us rely on our banks to provide access to cash and the ability to pay bills, usually on a daily basis.
With a major technical failure at Natwest entering its third day, without any indications currently of a timescale for it being resolved, millions of customers are struggling to access their accounts.
In our own case, the salaries we have paid to our staff earlier this week have still not been transferred to their accounts, as a result of these problems.
So what should you do when a banking system fails?
Dealing with the problem in the short term means being prepared. The two main steps you can take in terms of preparing for lack of access to your bank account are having some emergency cash in the house and having a credit card from a different bank or issuer.
Keeping a bit of cash at home means you still have access to money when you can’t get it from the cash machine. There is little sense in having an emergency fund in cash savings at your bank if technical problems (or the financial collapse of a bank) means you cannot access the money immediately in case of emergency.
Having a credit card from a separate issuer means you can still fill the car with petrol, buy groceries or pay other essential bills should your own credit card issuer experience a systems failure.
Of course these planning steps are of little help to those Natwest customers who are currently experiencing lack of access to their money.
In this case, the only viable course of action is to communicate with the bank and let them know the situation you face. Keep good records of any conversations you have as this will help the bank put you back in the same position you would have been before the error.
Whilst you will not be entitled to any extra compensation as a result of systems failures, the Financial Ombudsman Service rules mean you can make a formal complaint should the bank not deal with the issue for you to your satisfaction.
Photo credit: Flickr/mandyxclear