Tesco Bank boss apologises for online account faults
Some Tesco Bank customers are still locked out of their online accounts a week after the bank moved 605,000 accounts to a new computer system.
Chief executive Benny Higgins admitted they had failed some customers.
The BBC has also been receiving complaints about the time taken to get through to customer service helpline staff.
Mr Higgins apologised "unreservedly", but admitted that 2,500 customers could not access their accounts.
"Tesco strive to deliver service of the highest standard and for a significant minority of customers we have failed to do that," Mr Higgins told BBC Radio 4's Money Box.
"We do apologise unreservedly. It's absolutely our focus to put this right."
The problems began on Monday after Tesco Bank migrated all its online savings accounts from the Royal Bank of Scotland system to its own computers.
Many customers have been contacting news organisations and posting messages on web forums complaining that the new system was rejecting them, and that they were unable to access their funds.
End Quote Mike O'Connor Chief executive, Consumer Focus
When things go wrong, banks should admit it, apologise and compensate”
Twenty-five thousand customers had already registered under the new system, and 9,000 were actively managing their account, Mr Higgins told the programme.
But he confirmed that two technical failures on Monday and Tuesday lasting 18 hours had left people who were online at the time unable to access their accounts until they took several steps to reset their security details.
"We had 2,500 customers locked out as a result of Monday and Tuesday and we have been contacting them by telephone and e-mail."
However, many customers have been e-mailing Money Box and other BBC programmes to say they are still locked out and the phone lines keep them hanging on for nearly an hour before they can speak to anyone.
End Quote Benny Higgins Chief executive of Tesco Bank
We had an average waiting time of 40 minutes at the start in the week, an average yesterday of 15 minutes, and we expect the same today”
Only late on Friday was the helpline changed to a free 0800 number.
"After a whole week I am still unable to access my Tesco online banking accounts," Pat Cuckney emailed.
"I have made countless phone calls each time waiting over an hour. I shall be closing my account as soon as possible but at the moment I have no way of doing that. HELP!"
Mr Higgins admitted that the helpline had been inadequate.
"We have failed in that regard. We had an average waiting time of 40 minutes at the start in the week, an average yesterday of 15 minutes and we expect the same today."
However, when Money Box rang the number on Saturday morning at 1030 BST, it was 54 minutes before the call was answered.
Customers should be compensated, according to the chief executive of Consumer Focus, Mike O'Connor.
"When things go wrong, banks should admit it, they should fix it, they should apologize and compensate," he told Money Box.
"If you spend an hour on the phone, I think you deserve a payment."
Earlier in the week, Tesco Bank told the BBC it would refund customers who could prove they had lost out financially as a result of the fault.
BBC Radio 4's Money Box is broadcast on Saturdays at 1200 BST, and repeated on Sundays at 2100 BST.