‘An absolute mess’: Ubank apologises for app issues blocking people from their accounts

NAB’s digital offshoot ubank has apologised after frustrated customers spent several days struggling to get into their accounts from overseas and were left waiting on hold for hours when they tried to get help to access their money.

Customers on overseas trips have flooded ubank’s social media pages with complaints about trouble accessing the digital banking platform in recent days, saying there have been ongoing issues with logging into ubank’s app and poor customer service when they tried to get assistance.

Customers have flooded ubank’s social media pages with complaints about issues with access to the app and long wait times on its helpline.

Ubank started in 2008 as the Australia’s first homegrown digital bank. It has no physical branches, but operates under NAB’s licence.

Melbourne woman Hayleigh Clark signed up with the bank recently, attracted by its offer of no charges for international payments. Clark was in South Korea with a friend on the weekend when she was unable to access her ubank accounts online or through the app.

“We then started looking around, going through ubank’s statuses through their social media until we found that multiple people were left stranded and had been posting on ubank’s community wall,” said the 29-year-old.

With no 24-hour chat service for customers or an explanation about why the services were unavailable, Clark said the only option left was to call a helpline. However, she and her friend didn’t have an overseas SIM card and the time difference made it difficult to reach the helpline during its limited operating hours.

“It was quite stressful. We luckily had a kept a couple of dollars in our wallets in cash which did ensure we had a way to get to anywhere we needed to and to eat when necessary, but we were lucky to have someone back at home who was able to log in and transfer funds to our cards to get [money] at an ATM,” she said. “I am thinking about staying with ubank but […] they need to work on their customer service practices and complaints handling.”

‘It’s just been a complete screw-up […] As soon as I get access to the account I’ll be taking all my money out and putting it somewhere else.’

Another woman who also recently signed up with ubank due to the zero travel fees said she was on her honeymoon, and the app had been showing error messages for two to three days. The phone lines were clogged, and she couldn’t get through to ubank for help, describing the situation as “an absolute mess”.

A ubank spokeswoman said that the company was aware of an issue over the weekend that temporarily prevented a number of customers from accessing its app while overseas.

“We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused to those travelling overseas and confirm the app has been fully restored along with online banking,” she said.

Other customers have also raised issues in recent weeks with an “upgrade” process being undertaken by ubank as it completes a merger with neobank 86 400. National Australia Bank bought neobank 86 400 in January last year in a $220 million deal, aimed mainly at acquiring its technology platform and mobile banking systems and allowing ubank to improve its offer to a younger demographic.

As part of the integration with 86 400, ubank has been migrating all its accounts in phases, meaning customers have received new BSB, account numbers and debit cards, and they have been told to download and use a new banking app.

A ubank spokeswoman said since the merger in May was implemented in May, about 130,000 existing customers have been “upgraded”.

Clay Phipps, a pilot who lives in Japan, said his account had recently been migrated to the merged platform. However, when he tried to log in on the new ubank app and on a browser, both attempts failed, and he was locked out of his account despite having the correct password.

When he tried calling ubank, he waited on hold for more than 40 minutes each time.

“I just gave up and hung up,” he said. “It’s just been a complete screw-up. They’ve locked so many people out of their accounts by doing this, and I have a substantial amount of money in the account.

“As soon as I get access to the account I’ll be taking all my money out and putting it somewhere else,” said Phipps, who has been a customer for a decade.

Renee Andrews, a nurse from rural NSW who had been an ubank customer for ten years, said issues during the “upgrade” process had worried her so much she had taken almost all of her money out of her ubank account.

When her account was moved to the merged platform, she tried to log into the new app, but it didn’t work. She spent more than 90 minutes on hold before she was able to get through to someone who helped her regain access to her account.

“I finally got access to my money and I just moved it all to another bank that I’m with,” she said. “I was over it.”

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