Westpac glitch leaves customers in the red

Last updated 16:15 15/02/2013

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Valentine's Day may have been harder on your bank balance than you thought.

On Thursday night, thousands of direct debit payments administered by Westpac were doubled up, leaving people out of pocket and some in the red.

The double-dipping affected businesses that banked with Westpac, including Nelson City Council, not just customers who banked with Westpac.

Nelson City Council communications adviser Angela Ricker said the ''unfortunate bank error'' meant that its normal direct debits were doubled overnight, an error that likely affected all of its 1550 customers with direct debits set up for rates and other regular payments.

Nelson City Council received 150 calls on Friday morning alone. ''Westpac have advised us that those charges will be reversed today or overnight, and if anyone incurs fees to contact the bank,'' Ms Ricker said.

Tasman District Council banks with ASB so the error did not affect them.

On the Nelson Mail's Facebook page, Julia Ferguson said her Nelson City Council water and rates payments were debited twice. Marie Robertson said her water, rates, and insurance payments all came out twice, and an eftpos payment she made yesterday, which was accepted, didn't come out of her account at all. She said a staff member at her bank was ''working on it''.

Jaine Ni Chroinin said that she was charged a dishonour fee after the double payments came out.

A Westpac spokesperson said a "unfortunate" human error had seen a small number of double payments which were expected to be cleared today.

"Obviously there'll be no customer impact on terms of being out of pocket," he said. ''It seems reasonably isolated [to Nelson]." 

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