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Gary Wright

Gary Wright

Gary Wright - BISS Research

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SEPA and European Payments

SEPA and European Payments

The Single Euro Payments Area, the Payments Services Directive, the Eurosystem, TARGET2, STEP2, the Euro and related matters.

Financial Crisis drives bullyboy tactics

09 October 2008  |  3715 views  |  1


Now I know this might be a small issue in the whole scheme of the global financial meltdown but HSBC seems to be plummeting to new depths of desperation. 

Only this week, I learnt how HSBC has been harassing, a recently graduated student, initially once a week over the past three weeks but more recently, this has increased to daily phone calls. All because he has now gone £200 over his approved overdraft of £1000, (which HSBC agreed to allow him to do). The overdraft arising due to the costs incurred whilst gaining his University Degree. However, included in the £200 excess is £100 of bank charges, for each slight amendment to the overdraft limit.

If this constant harassment was not bad enough, HSBC demanded to know when the graduate would be getting a job. The graduate explained he had been trying to get a job in Financial Services since finishing University in June, and has registered with many job agencies, sent online applications and contacted companies direct, but to no avail, not surprising given the current situation!

However, his efforts were not considered enough for HSBC, who continued to demand when was he going to get a job? Clearly they do not understand the concept of Employment Agencies in the Indian Call Centre. They also suggested that perhaps he should sign on for unemployment benefit, so that money could be used to pay back the £200 or failing that ask his family for a loan or borrow money from elsewhere. HSBC further threatened daily phone calls on the same issue until the situation was rectified to their satisfaction. Each phone call each day is from a different HSBC person so each conversation is the same with the same outcome. It is pointless and counter productive for all concerned. It smacks of desperation at HSBC with so much effort outweighing the return.

Although the current situation was explained and it was stated that as soon as he gets work, the money will be used to pay off the overdraft. HSBC has continued to call each day and have stated that this will not stop until the amount is repaid, threatening to close the account and demand payment in full of the whole overdraft.

Even though if a job materialised immediately, it would be at least two weeks, or more, before any funds would go into the account. So what is the point of phoning everyday! Surely the sensible thing would be to make a note on the account and contact on a monthly basis if the account has not been rectified.

This hostile, oppressive and nonsensical behaviour by HSBC to a young person just starting out in life does not do them any credit.

But, one wonders if HSBC had been as dogged in their business dealings with the large institutions and their traders they may not be in the situation they find themselves today.

TagsPaymentsRetail banking

Comments: (2)

John Dring
John Dring - Intel Network Services - Swindon | 13 October, 2008, 14:02

I don't think this is atypical at all.

Its the concept of low hanging fruit.  HSBC has a captive audience, with contact details that make this easy.  Its easier to close a debt like this one than for a £500k re-financing loan to a company who don't answer their phones. 

Its also like it is easier for police to hand out speeding tickets than actually catch a car thief.

The real problem is that the 'little guys' have very little recourse to prevent it.  There is no way to make them be reasonable, and of course most of these cases result in ever increases charges levied to the account which are again arbitrary and excessive (although they may be detailed in the small print).

I suggest he takes out a loan with another bank (one which would like to get a relationship with a young graduate with some earning potential) and pay off HSBC with a finger-salute (take choice from one or two, or just a wave).  Oh, and write a Blog about the experience of course.



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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 13 October, 2008, 18:30

Thank you for this comment

An update

In an effort to get the continuous phone calls stopped, a  meeting was arranged with the HSBC bank manager, who actually sympathised concerning the call centre. His own personal feelings were that he sympathised and that the standard of people in the call centres left a lot to be desired but that there was nothing he could do about it. Also as a payment had been made, due to the graduate getting a loan from another source, he was clearly making an effort to clear the excess. Hurrah! He actually agreed to rebate the additional bank charges which were exacerbating the situation (excluding the annual charge) putting the account almost back within its overdraft limit. Sanity had prevailed!

But a further payment had to be made to reduce the overdraft so it would fall below the agreed limit. A suggestion was made that a small payment made each month would prevent further phone calls. It seems that the local branch had no power to stop these.

It remains to be seen whether the graduate takes up your suggestion to change banks, if so perhaps he will take up your suggestion of a goodbye gesture and another fine example of "How not to deliver Customer Service" will bite the dust!

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