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Your Money: Abbey grab it; BLUNDER AT BANK PUTS CUSTOMERS IN THE RED.

Byline: By STEVE HAWKES

BANKING giant Abbey has left thousands of customers in the red by paying out standing orders TWICE in the same day.

Blundering computer staff caused chaos while trying to fix a routine IT problem.

Abbey is now trying to limit the damage after being flooded with complaints.

The gaffe is thought to have hit 35,000 customers.

It comes just three days after the Daily Mirror revealed that Abbey is slapping a nine per cent increase on penalty charges for bounced cheques and exceeding overdraft limits.

The mistake meant standing orders already paid out on Tuesday morning were all pushed through again. While Abbey insists the money was not physically paid out twice, statements showed the double deduction.

And some customers were unable to withdraw cash after being pushed over their overdraft limit.

Denise Baker, a 45-year old council worker from Warrington, Cheshire, said: "I was shocked when I saw my balance.

"I have not been able to get any money out for two days now."

Abbey said it had fixed the problem and insisted that account details should have now been updated.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused," said an Abbey spokesman.

He added that the error had only affected a small number of Abbey's four million account holders.

But it follows a string of setbacks since Abbey was taken over by Spanish giant Banco Santander last autumn.

Some 3,000 Abbey staff have lost their jobs in a huge restructuring.

And law student Stephen Hone of Plymouth sued the former building society for "rip-off" fees in June.

Eddie Weatherill of the Independent Banking Advisory Service said: "Since that case we have had lots of people ringing up to complain about Abbey.

"People are going to be even more upset if they realise their bank's systems don't work properly."
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2005
Words:304
Previous Article:Your Money: LOUSY RESULT.
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