Tag Archives: bank

HSBC – Here, they Say, Be Clowns

Breaking news – HSBC have finally sent me a proper letter, as opposed to “we are still investigating your claims. Thank you for your patience”, of which I now have three. No, this was a proper letter, that pretty much agreed with everything I said in my complaint (and in my response to their paltry offer of £15 in compensation for completely winding me up so much it took me two hours to calm down) and said how sorry they were, that their service had fallen below standards, and that steps had been taken so that it wouldn’t happen again. Etc. Etc.

It also offered me a slightly improved offer of compensation, though not by much, and certainly nowhere near the fee that the Financial Ombudsman would charge HSBC were I to take my complaint to them (that’s right HSBC, I know how much. When I said I’d taken legal advice, did you think I was bluffing?), and frankly I’m minded to go to the Financial Ombudsman out of spite.

Except the letter also mentions ‘a gift’ to help make up for the all the inconvenience. Ooh, a gift, as well as a small cheque? Oh HSBC, you are too generous. Whatever could it be? An iPad 2? I can dream.

The letter then asks me to call between Mon – Thurs between 9am – 2pm in order to discuss this mysterious gift. So I called them at 11.30 this morning. It’s wednesday. I had my notes with me, and was ready for some negotiating. Only to be told the person who wrote the letter is away from the office, and won’t be back til Friday.

There’s a point at which one has to recognise the ridiculousness of the situation and laugh.

I told HSBC that I’m deaf, and can’t take phone calls. What happened? The marketing dept phoned me, the credit card people phoned me (piss off, I paid it off for a reason) and the fraud detection people phoned me.

In frustration, I had them put a note on my file not to call me, ever. What happened? They called me again! Finally, I took my mobile number away from them altogether.

Then there was the ‘typetalk incident’ which sparked all this complaint business, and we know how that’s going. Verbal consent, my foot.

Their first response to my initial complaint was mis-spelled, vaguely patronising, ignored my references to the Equality Act and threats, and offered me £15 for the inconvenience. It poured petrol on the fire.

Then I went into a HSBC branch a few weeks ago to ask them to close my account and send the money to my new accounts at an internet bank, of which I had two. I told them how much I wanted to transfer to each account. What happened? All the money ended up in one account so I had nothing in my new current account. Ha ha. HSBC, you’re so funny.

Then this. Please call us between Mon – Thurs, and they’re not in til Fri. I’m not even angry or even that annoyed. I’ve simply reached a point where nothing that HSBC or its representatives does surprises me anymore. Hell, it makes me laugh. Frankly, I should probably just write a long missive, detailing everything HSBC has done to annoy me, all the way up to the present day, send it to the Financial Ombudsman and see how much they think it’s all worth. I bet it’s more than a small cheque and ‘a gift’.

Then again, perhaps I’m being unfair. I don’t know what this ‘gift’ is yet. I have until Friday to speculate. Please be an iPad 2. Please be an iPad 2…

HSBC – Here, they Say, Be Clowns.

Cats and bank update

The last couple of days have been spent on housework and settling in the new cats. They’re very chalk and cheese, with personalities as different as their markings. Yuki (Japanese for ‘snow’) is a pure white 3-month-old kitten, with some oriental good looks and smooth fur, with Siamese-sized ears (i.e. like little radar dishes on his head) that, in a perfect example of life’s little ironies, are stone deaf. So far I’ve tried the traditional clicking of fingers and clapping hands, and the less-traditional blast of music from my phone, but perhaps the most convincing evidence is that when The Doctor and Alex were sucked, screaming, into the cupboard, he didn’t even twitch. I’m looking forward to what happens when I bring out the hoover. He’s a playful but chilled kitten, who seems just as happy sleeping on his back on the sofa as he is killing random motes of dust and bits of fluff on the floor.

Lucy is an ancient, slightly grumpy, 22-year-old long-haired black moggy with a white bib and socks who lives for food. Her favourite activities so far have been lying on random patches of the kitchen floor, or the dining room floor, or on the landing, and eating. If she could spend all day with her face in a food bowl, I have no doubt she would. Yes, she does have an underactive thyroid, and if anything this has worked in her favour, as I wrap the pills in chicken. She’s already started to follow me when I open the fridge.

I’m happy that the cats are settling in, but still not sure what to do about Yuki when he’s been here long enough to – in theory – be let out. Do we set up a fence in the garden? We’ve already got a harness so we can take him out supervised. He’s not the brightest cat, and pretty fearless, so letting him out unsupervised is a risk at best, I’m all for deaf empowerment, but he’s too pretty to be run over by the boy racers we sometimes get round here. Am trying to teach him some basic signs / hand signals but it’s not going well. Mind you, I suppose it’s asking too much of the attention span of a 13-week-old kitten.

To clear up some confusion, my cat Faraday (whose picture is still my personal profile pic) who lived with me at my flat in Bristol passed away last November after a suspected kidney infection turned out to be end-stage renal failure. She came from the RSPCA at the age of 16, as I wanted a quiet cat to hang out at flat with me. This she did quite happily in return for a soft sofa and all the boiled chicken and felix she could eat, and when she went, she was 19-and-a-half. I still miss that bloody cat.

Tabby, who disappeared so mysteriously four months ago, was my parents’ cat, who came to live with us from RSPCA when I was about 14 or 15 after about two or three years of asking, persuading and eventually begging on my part. She was, as her name suggests, an ordinary tabby cat that I loved dearly, but she never quite forgave me for moving away to Uni, and then for moving away again to my own place, so our relationship over the last few years had been distant, at best. If I didn’t know better, I could almost put her disappearance a mere two months after I moved back in down to spite. I still wish I knew where the hell she went. Quite apart from closure, it’s like a Rubik’s cube that you can’t figure out. The solution is there somewhere, but you’re damned if you can work out what it is.

Bank update – I have sent a reply to the £15 letter (£15!) basically saying that I am not satisfied, that I feel that HSBC needs to improve its deaf and disability awareness as a whole, that having two minicoms for the text-phone service seems like a low number given that there are approximately 9 million people in UK with some form of deafness, (that is what they said, they have two minicoms and that service users may sometimes experience a short delay when call volumes exceed what they expect. I said I don’t consider nine failed attempts to get through and the phone ringing out for fifteen minutes a short delay) and I think I even managed to find a higher horse than the one I got on in my original complaint. I quoted discrimination law and said if HSBC didn’t respond in a way that satisfied me, I was going to the financial ombudsman. I’m in the mood for a fight.

The irony though is; I set up new accounts with an online bank. My application was accepted and I attempted to sign in for the first time. Only to forget the answers to all of my security questions and get a pop-up message telling me to call them to resolve the issues.

I’m getting the strangest feeling of deja vu…

What a week.

Where to start? The obvious, I suppose, is the gangs of disaffected youths running around smashing the place up. It would be pithy and probably very uninformed of me to observe that when super-rich people get away with apparently anything and then, in order to pay for these people’s cock-ups, the government slashes funding to vital services and charities and police, there may be some ill-feeling. Even so, burning things and smashing things up indiscriminately achieves little (apart from a free 42″ TV, a natty new pair of trainers, and ooh, maybe 40 iPhones and wall-to-wall media coverage) and does way more harm than good. If they’d just gone for ATOS centres and JobCentres instead of blameless people… For the benefit of the tape, I am not in any way recommending criminal behaviour with that remark.

For my part, I wonder how the elderly, disabled and deaf are doing – elderly and disabled people who rely on carers not being afraid to come out, who rely on others to bring shopping / do basic tasks, and deaf people who can’t hear the windows breaking or roar of fire engines coming up the street. All I know is, I’m glad I no longer live anywhere near a city centre, I’ve had good restful nights of sleep out here in the sticks, far removed from any trouble, and safe in the knowledge that my father owns an air pistol and I know where it is. However, many others, disabled or otherwise, aren’t so lucky.

I hope all this madness settles down soon, because for all that it gets a lot of attention and Cameron must surely have to rethink his Big Society / cutting police / cutting community projects / all his stupid ideas, the people who will suffer most in all of this will be those who are the most vulnerable. That’s the way it usually goes, hence “vulnerable”.

In other news, HSBC have responded formally to my complaint. £15. They’ve credited my account with £15. That’s how much all that stress and aggravation was worth to them. £15. And they don’t know it yet, but they actually gave me even more ammunition in the letter. £15. £15. Fifteen bloody pounds. Why not just smack me in the face with a gauntlet and throw it on the floor? Senior Service Quality Team at HSBC, you’ll be hearing from me again soon. £15! Someone’s going to regret that. £15. £15…

Unusual Skills Week! (And HSBC)

A couple of weeks ago, in the last week of July, I was lucky enough to attend Unusual Stage School’s skills week. A Disability Arts Cymru project, and with me based in Cardiff / Wales for my degree, I was able to gate-crash an amazing week with an amazing bunch of people. We worked on script development, performance, voice, singing (yes, singing) movement (where I tripped over the instructor) improv and physical theatre (not, as I had imagined, a sort of hippy wafting pretending-to-be-trees exercise, but in fact a type of improv). My fellow skills week attendees all knew each other with a couple of exceptions, but I was made to feel so welcome it was incredible. Usually, I struggle a lot with socialising with non-signers, but this lot were so patient, apparently happy to repeat themselves ad infinatum, and even better, a few of them knew a couple of signs and the manual alphabet, which in some cases can make or break a conversation. I even ended up staying over during the course, despite my misgivings (leaving my parents unsupervised and I typically don’t handle hearing social situations well) and I can honestly say that at the end of the week I didn’t want to leave. I wanted another week! Hell, I would have stayed for a month. We could call it ‘Big Brother DAC’ and sell the TV rights to the BBC…

One of the happiest moments had to be sitting on a makeshift bench in Cardiff Bay with the usual suspects, nibbling ‘starters’ we’d got from Tesco’s (chargrilled mushroom pasta and three bean salad, mmmm) and chatting in the evening sun while waiting for our accommodation to prepare our (somewhat unimaginative) supper. The less said about Hamgate, the better. But I couldn’t really complain as we were staying round the back of the Millennium Centre, an incredible location, and I was staying with a great bunch of people. Have I already said that? Well they were. From the bass tones of Richard, to the sweetness of Gwilym, to the cuteness of our youngest member, to the outgoing Laura, well you get the idea, I’d better stop here or I’ll make myself sick. But I loved them all, I really did. From my Persian General to the PAs.

And let’s not forget the reason we were all there – skills week! I now know that I naturally sing in a low pitch (no Katherine Jenkins then) that my speech / vocal pitch range is wider than I had thought, that there are many, many ways to say ‘yes’ when really you mean ‘no’, that physical theatre doesn’t necessarily involve pretending to be trees and improv in all its forms can be a lot of fun.

I learned that coffee and toffee are a nice combination for ice cream, that a buffalo burger actually tastes quite nice, and that a Strawberry Capirinha is a lovely cocktail. I also learned that it’s possible to put on four pounds in five days. I’ve lost those extra pounds though, thanks to the virus I picked up as a souvenir. One of those viruses that reduces your IQ level by half and makes it hard to think while you sniffle into your tissue.

It was still worth it though and I’d happily do it again! Love you guys!

HSBC update: “we are looking into the matters you have raised and will contact you with a full response as soon as we have completed our investigations.” Yeah, right.

HSBC, you need to learn.

I have just had the most incredible experience with HSBC telephone banking services. Unfortunately, it was incredible for all the wrong reasons. It began with a simple lapse of memory on my part. I was buying tickets on trainline and it asked me for my security number (on back of card), I didn’t have it to hand and thought I could remember it. Turns out I was wrong. I gave the wrong answer and next thing I knew my card was declined. Every time I tried to buy the damn tickets – “Declined. Please contact your card issuer.” Sigh.

This was at around 7.30pm on a Sunday, but thankfully(!) HSBC has a helpline that is open from 8am to 10pm every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Since it was not any of those days, I trudged to the phone.

HSBC has a general number and a textphone number – same hours. I tried the textphone number. No answer. I called the same number via typetalk and got a recorded message to try the general number. Operator suggested I call without the 18001 prefix –i.e. it was a textphone. Sigh.

I called the general number and then the fun really started. What follows is so amazing I still can’t believe it happened. I jumped through all the security hoops and got an advisor, who immediately said they needed verbal consent for the operator to be part of the conversation. What?

I asked for clarification, but was informed by the operator that she had already gone to ask the manager what to do. What? After five minutes (yes, I timed it) she came back and said she had spoken to her manager and that she had to give me another number to call. I expected it to be the textphone number and sighed again, preparing for a brief argument over the lack of answer from it. Instead she gave a number I didn’t recognise, and said that I could get a sign language interpreter there. I said I didn’t understand, why would I call a sign language interpreter to make a call to HSBC, surely it would have the same issues as a text relay call? She said they had sign language interpreters, lipspeakers and text to speech operators and I had to call that number. Her manager had said that they “don’t deal with these calls” and she mentioned verbal consent twice.

When I got a word in edgeways, I said I didn’t understand it, but if I called them, should I call this number via text relay or call them text direct? She clearly didn’t understand the question even though I asked it twice and rephrased, making it clear that I meant do I call via a relay call or direct to a textphone? She just kept saying that I would get a person and they could get me a sign language interpreter, a lipspeaker or a text to speech operator. I got a note from the operator saying that the woman had said she had only told the manager she had got a call from someone who was speaking on behalf of someone else, and had perhaps not mentioned typetalk. Realising I was being thrown a bone and thinking that perhaps there had been some misunderstanding, I said that this was a typetalk call, that typetalk is a recognised and official service and that HSBC lists its prefix on its letters. At this, she got very shirty, and said that she had explained it to her manager and she had explained it was typetalk and even managed to throw in a “whatever”. I could almost see teenage eyes rolling on the other side of the phone. I asked for the number again and her name. Her reply? “Most definitely” and gave the number and the name, clearly wanting rid of me. I thanked her for a bizarre conversation and hung up.

I called the number, and got a recorded message that they were only open from 9am to 5pm. Surprise.

I called the textphone number again. And again. It rang from 7.56 to 8.01 and from 8.02 to 8.13.

I decided to google the number I had been given. Words fail me. She had given me the number for *drum roll* Action On Hearing Loss formerly RNID communication services.


Then I went on a textphone marathon, calling the textphone number five times from 8.38 to 8.58, and the last call rang for fifteen minutes straight.

At this point I gave up and swore I would sue. Equality Act, equal service for disabled customers, my arse.

At a quarter to ten, I decided to give it another try, as I really needed those tickets, and rang the general helpline via typetalk again. The experience couldn’t have been more different. I got a helpful advisor, who told me that the transaction showed up as failed, but my card was still active and maybe if I tried again it should work. All that for nothing, but that last phone call took all of five minutes. Was all the preceding bullshit really necessary?

I’m cooling down now, but I have had issues with HSBC before, as I am sure they noted on my file – in fact their last letter apologising for the inconvenience that they have caused expressly said that a note saying that I am solely a textphone user has been put on my file. After a good night’s sleep, I’m going to refine this blog and turn it into my latest complaint to customer services, dosed with quotes from the Equality Act 2010. I’m still considering threatening legal action, but the problem with threats is sometimes you have to back them up. On the other hand, I’m sure I must have collected enough material by now…

One step forward, two steps back

The day started so well. I was on the student feedback panel for technology enhanced education, attended by around 40 staff from my Uni, asked questions about my experience at the Uni so far, positive and negative, and my comments seemed to be well received, as well all the other student panellists and we were all thanked profusely for attending. I went away feeling that maybe, just maybe, some people went away slightly more deaf-aware that morning, and would know not to change seminars at the last minute when interpreters have been booked.

Then, on the train home, I was quietly reading my newspaper when I was distracted by a strange tapping noise. I looked up and nearly jumped out of my seat when I realised a ticket inspector, whose presence I had been unaware of, was standing next to me. The tapping noise? Him rapping a key against the seat in front of me. Subtle. Very subtle. I barely had time to register annoyance when he turned away to check a ticket from someone else. When he turned back, I was ready for him. I signed angrily, gestured, I’m deaf, tap my shoulder, hello! He looked slightly abashed, but offered no apology, and when he had duly inspected my ticket, wandered off down the aisle. Irritated, but letting the incident go, I walked off the train with my head held high, if slightly despairing at the total lack of respect and deaf awareness of employees of First Great Western.

Then, while I was peacefully checking my emails this afternoon, I got a phone call to my mobile, from an 0845 number, no less. It was summarily ignored. Shortly thereafter, Dad came to find me, my bank – HSBC – had called the house, asking for me, and asking me to call back. Hah. This is an issue I’ve raised with HSBC before, more than once. I got on the landline and called them back via typetalk, and after the interminable recorded message and security questions, I brought up the fact they’d called me, and that I have repeatedly asked HSBC not to. They said they were sorry but it was the policy of the fraud detection department to only use phones and voicemails. I said that was completely discriminatory to deaf customers, that text messages and emails are much better for deaf people and asked for an address where I could send a complaint. They gave me the email address for customer relations and apologised again. The fact that they had correctly intercepted an attempt by some random website to hack my card was neither here nor there; I have told HSBC many times not to call my damn mobile. In the end, the assistant offered to take my mobile number off the HSBC system completely, an offer I accepted. It’s a good principle; treat my mobile number with respect or I’ll take it away. I shall adopt this policy in future.

They then suggested – out of the best of intentions I’m sure – that I could add my father to my account as a third party so that he could make phone calls on my behalf, give details about my account and generally be a point of contact. I’ll say here what I said to the assistant – it’s an interesting idea, but it completely defeats the notion of independence, I am perfectly capable of handling my own financial affairs, and it wouldn’t even be an issue if HSBC would just catch up with the 21st century and start using text messages. They said they completely understood, and apologised again for good measure.

I have now sent an email to customer relations asking why
HSBC has not yet joined the 21st century. I look forward to their
reply with interest.