Paul Pester was answering questions from the Treasury Select Committee of MPs when he admitted to its chair, Nicky Morgan, that he did not have figures for the number of customers who had requested to leave the bank since the crisis unfolded.
He had earlier admitted that the problems, which have left up to 1.9 million digital banking customers without access to their accounts, had sparked 40,000 complaints – a 13-fold increase on usual levels.
He also confirmed he would give up a bonus, worth £2m, linked to the completion of the migration of customer data from old servers belonging to previous TSB owner, Lloyds.
I think @PaulPester should give his bonus to customers AND his frontline staff @TSB who have had to deal with all the unhappy customers! I feel sorry for them having to deal with the aftermath of the failings of their senior management and their IT dept. #TSB
— Stephanie Melrose (@fannymelrose) May 2, 2018
But Mr Pester was pressed on the issue of reputational damage by Mrs Morgan, who told him: “People are not going to be switching to TSB after this. How many customers, in the last 10 days, have asked to leave TSB?”
He responded: “I don’t have that number and I don’t agree with your assertions that customers will not be switching to TSB.”
Mr Pester explained that was because he had thousands of staff working to grow the challenger bank – and switching would save customers money in a system dominated by five major players.
In the heated exchange, Mrs Morgan suggested he turn his Twitter account on “because you will receive some very clear messages”.
Mr Pester used the session to say that the main problem facing customers continued to be one of accessibility to its online services and mobile app but log-ins were returning to almost normal levels.
He said he took ultimate responsibility for the troubled migration – distancing himself from suggestions he blamed parent firm Sabadell for the problems before he took personal control last week – and again promised no-one would lose out financially.
However, both the chief executive, and chairman Richard Meddings, were accused by MPs on the committee of failing to understand the scale of the problems customers were reporting.
They included in-branch payment issues, standing orders not being paid and complaints via phone and the website not being followed up.
Mrs Morgan claimed Mr Pester would be wrong to suggest existing problems were largely limited to access.
He added: “Clearly I’ve misled you if you think that I’ve said that this bank is fixed.
“I can’t give you a fixed date. If I give you a fixed date it is likely to be unfair to our customers. We are working hard on fixing the middleware issues we have described.
“We expect to see the service improve but I can’t give you a date because I don’t want to mislead our customers.”
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The bank bosses confirmed a story by Sky News that it had brought in a law firm to investigate the migration that IBM was still helping attempt to fix.
They added that business services company Deloitte was devising a compensation scheme on TSB’s behalf but no figure could yet be put on the total costs involved.