Tag Archives: HSBC

Here S Be Clowns, meet FOS

Here Be Clowns is how I’m starting to think of HSBC. I haven’t come up with a suitable use for the ‘S’ yet, but I’m sure an appropriate word will occur. There are a couple of obvious candidates, but I’d like the word to flow in the phrase ‘Here Be Clowns’. I’m happy to consider suggestions.

So I got round to calling them yesterday. I wanted to find out what the gift was, and maybe have a sensible conversation with the person who wrote the latest letter, who is apparently a ‘Service Recovery Associate’. Ah, so they’ve noticed that I’ve closed most of my accounts with them. I wondered if they had. I only have my current account left, and I’m only keeping that for as long as it takes me to have it out with them. Technically, I’m still a customer, so they still have to deal with me.

I digress. A sensible conversation, I thought, and if they’re suitably knowledgeable and apologetic and willing to discuss how HSBC can improve their services, and the gift is suitably impressive, well I’ll think about it.

Instead I got, after the interminable security questions, someone who appeared to have been trained by use of an audio tape and biscuits. I refer of course, to Pavlov’s famous experiments whereby he trained dogs to do something automatically on a specific cue. For example, when I asked what all this was about the gift, I got a spiel about goodwill and recompense for the inconvenience and a list of the gifts available, from which I could have my pick, which was then recited with the speed of someone commentating on the Generation Game conveyor belt. Bottle of wine, bunch of flowers, Morton Down bath salts, hat (possible typo?) vouchers, and a couple of other things that literally blurred past me, but I doubt their value was anything above £20, if that. Definitely no iPad. Disappointing.

The person said they were happy to discuss things. I asked a twofold question, asking about something they had written in their letter which didn’t make logical sense and then asking whether HSBC had any plans to introduce a text messaging service. Another Pavlovian response:

“The concerns you raised in your letters have been forwarded to our diversity manager and they will take them forward… (zzzzzzzz) … timescale.” The ‘zzzzzzzz’ was me tuning out; if I wanted a buck-passing spiel, I’d just read their complaints procedure leaflet again.

I said I needed to think about it, and asked if I should just call this number back if I decided to take the gift. That was their opportunity to say: “But wait! I didn’t tell you about the new internet messaging system on the HSBC website / free iPad for all deaf customers!” Instead they said: “Er… yes please do call this number back, I’m happy to discuss things.”

No you’re not. I asked you a simple question; two simple questions actually, and you gave me meaningless drivel by rote. That’s not a discussion. Take your bunch of flowers and…

Is what I didn’t say. Instead, I thanked her and hung up. After having a good think, mostly along the lines of “for pity’s sake, I’m a carer, an MA student, a freelance writer / performer, I have reading to do, I have favours I promised I’d do, I have writing to do, and do I really, really want to put myself through an extended, long-winded battle with HSBC and drag in the Financial Ombudsman Service as referee?”

After a discussion with an associate (who just happens to be a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, but it’s OK, he doesn’t have horns and a tail so I’m pretty sure he’s on my side) where he gave me lots of useful phrases such as “dereliction of duty” and “reached an impasse” and an ego-boosting comment on my last post, I’ve decided that the answer is yes.

What the hell. It won’t cost me anything to bring in the FOS, but it will cost HSBC – the FOS charges banks for every complaint that they receive and mediate. I can detail all of my complaints about HSBC to the FOS and send them all the evidence – the advantage of owning a scanner / printer. I’m going to demand an improved compensation offer, a proper written apology and a proper answer to the question “when is HSBC going to introduce a text messaging service like other banks?”.

Apparently, once the FOS is involved, it could take up to a year for any of this to happen. But if it does happen, then victory will be all the sweeter, and banks have been getting away with this kind of crap for far too long. Financial Ombudsman Service, here I come.

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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.