Westpac customers await refunds after transaction glitch


Customers affected by a Westpac Bank transaction glitch last week are still waiting for refunds to their accounts.

A spokesperson for Westpac New Zealand says it will be doing a thorough review after some of its customers were hundreds of dollars short over the weekend after the transaction glitch.

Westpac told 1News Mastercard debit and credit card payments made by customers on December 23 and 24 were not processed at the time and instead were processed on Friday.

The bank apologised for the delay and any confusion it had caused customers, adding that overdraft fees and interest incurred from the error would be waived.

Customers were caught off-guard after no communication from the bank about the error, except for a Facebook post and a website update on Friday morning.

Westpac confirmed there was no communication to customers in advance of the transactions going through.

“The Facebook post and an update on the Westpac homepage went live on the Friday morning, which is when the payments going out would first have been visible to customers,” a spokesperson said.

Westpac’s post attracted nearly 5000 comments from upset customers, some saying the transactions were taken out of their accounts twice - as money properly left their accounts on December 23 or 24, but saw the deduction repeat on Friday.

1News spoke to the daughter of a man who is still waiting for a refund.

“My father is in his 50s, with Westpac and has had $300 taken out of his account unexpectedly like many other people,” his daughter told 1News.

“The thing is we absolutely know it’s an error as he always takes his cash out so there is no debit card transactions that were 'pending' or whatever Westpac is trying to say is happening.”

Today the money had still not been returned to the man’s account despite being assisted by his daughter who told 1News she’d waited for over three hours to speak to a Westpac representative on Friday about the issue.

“The conversation was quite short and the lady stated the funds would be back in my father’s account tomorrow.”

“They’ve not only just gone and done this to a bunch of families, they didn’t tell anyone that it was going to happen except for a random Facebook post.

“I’m a single mother on a sole parent benefit, so I’m just glad I’m not with Westpac because I wouldn’t have been able to recover from a $300 loss if that had happened to me.

“He [my father] doesn’t have any money. It’s lucky he has been staying with me while this has happened – he will definitely be changing banks for sure.

“I hope they do the right thing and give everyone’s money back. They can afford to lose a bit of money but we can’t.”

It comes as Westpac New Zealand made a billion-dollar full year profit in 2022.

Westpac responds

Westpac told 1News its call centre is responding to a higher than usual number of calls “and unfortunately some customers may face longer wait times. Anyone who prefers not to wait on hold can request a call back".

“We recognise that this payments processing issue has caused confusion and inconvenience to customers and we sincerely apologise.”

The spokesperson declined to comment on how many customers have been affected and how much money had been unaccounted for.

“Any fees and interest related to this issue are being waived and we invite customers who have been left financially challenged to visit us in branch or call our contact centre so we can assess how we can help.

“Our team has been given discretion to work with customers to understand the financial impact, with a view to making reimbursements to those in need on a case-by-case basis.

“We'll be doing a thorough review to understand what went wrong so we can make any necessary changes.”

Banking Ombudsman receives complaints

The Banking Ombudsman, Nicola Sladden, says it’s monitoring the issue.

“The Banking Ombudsman Scheme has received more than 75 complaints about the Westpac processing issue,” she told 1News.

“We are assisting customers who have contacted us to raise their concerns with Westpac directly, at the outset. If Westpac is unable to resolve the complaint to the customer’s satisfaction, the customer can ask us to investigate their specific concerns."