Angry customers are refusing to take the hit after under-payments over years were discovered
A banking blunder has led to mortgage customers being under-charged for years, leaving them to face huge increases in their monthly costs.
The mortgages were originally Ulster Bank trackers that have now been sold to AIB.
Letters went out from AIB this week telling recently-acquired tracker customers that the miscalculation would have to be corrected, a move that will increase repayments by as much as €600 a month in one go from October.
This is so the legacy of under-payments can be recouped. The increases are a multiple of the monthly increase that was expected from the latest European Central Bank rate rise.
It is not clear how many of the 32,000 Ulster Bank tracker accounts that transferred to AIB are affected, but Independent.ie has been contacted by dozens of those who got the letters.
Customers have reacted with fury to the fiasco and questioned why they should be on the hook for the huge bungle. One man told how his letter told him his mortgage repayments were going up by more than €600 a month because of the miscalculation.
Another homeowner was expecting a letter telling the family the latest ECB rate rise would raise monthly repayments by €30. But the AIB letter said the monthly repayment would go up by twice that amount.
People affected who rang AIB were told the bank had been inundated with complaints from former Ulster Bank tracker customers whose mortgages are now with it.
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Staff at AIB told the customers they have been under-paying their mortgages for years.
One customer said his letter told him his monthly repayments were going from €1,700 to €2,371, a rise of €671.
This is despite him paying €50,000 off the tracker principal in a bid to keep the monthly repayments down. He has never missed any payments.
“I can’t afford this, and I am not standing for it,” said the customer. “It is disgraceful to send out letters like that with no warning. It is upsetting and a huge shock. Has the €50,000 been lost?”
Last January, AIB was cleared by the competition watchdog to acquire Ulster Bank’s tracker mortgage portfolio worth €5.7bn. The decision meant 32,000 mortgage accounts moved from Ulster to AIB.
Another customer told how she has just €13,000 left to pay on her mortgage.
The ECB rise of 0.25 percentage points should have meant her monthly repayments would go up by €3, as had been the case when previous ECB rate rises were passed on.
Instead, she was told the monthly repayment was going up by €28, nine times the amount of previous rises.
“On contacting AIB today, they informed me that in order to repay the mortgage on the remaining agreed term this increase is warranted as, in their words, Ulster Bank have been calculating mortgage repayments incorrectly for years. I was horrified,” said the woman.
Another customer who was expecting a small increase on his monthly repayments due to the latest ECB hike got a letter saying the repayment was going up by €58 a month from October.
He questioned why the under-charging by Ulster Bank was not discovered by AIB when it did due diligence before the acquisition.
“I don’t think I should take the hit for this. Between the two banks, someone dropped the ball, so they should absorb the cost of this,” he said.
The bank said: “AIB is working to resolve queries raised by some customers whose tracker mortgages moved to AIB as part of AIB’s recent purchase of Ulster Bank’s mortgage book.
“The queries arose following the July ECB rate increase, resulting in customers being notified of a monthly payment change scheduled to take effect in October. We will communicate with any affected customers as soon as possible. In the meantime, we are available to support these customers on 0818 251 008.”
Ulster Bank said it was liaising with AIB on queries received overnight by some former customers who recently migrated to AIB. The Central Bank is understood to be looking at the issue.
Last November, departing bank KBC has admitted it overcharged break fees on some mortgage customers who switched to another lender. It had to pay the affected customers compensation.
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