HSBC don't want me to be their customer

31 December 2009

The British are more likely to get divorced than switch their bank, but HSBC are doing a fantastic job of driving me away.

At the start of December I endured the annual round of “There is a possibility your card might have been cloned, we’re going to cancel it and send you a new one — which will take 5–10 working days.”

This was irritating the first time (especially as I had just reached that stage where I had memorised every detail of the card and no longer needed to pull it out to make online transactions).

The second time was just as bad.

This year, they decided to do it just as I was about to start my Christmas shopping.

That was the point where I applied for a new credit card, with a different bank (it was approved today).

Being the end of the year, I thought I had better order myself a season ticket for my rail travel for next year (before the fares are hiked by the rail companies). So, I duly fill out all the forms (including the fun of working out how I’m supposed to enter the photocard id code — hint: The spaces that are printed on the card aren’t in the code you have to type in).

Remember, this is an order for a physical ticket that will be posted to the address where my credit card is registered.

Then I get to the payment page where I enter:

  • Everything on the front of the card
  • Everything on the back of the card
  • My postal address
  • My Masterphish (the Mastercard implementation of 3D secure, aka Phished by Visa) password

At that point, my transaction is declined.

Did I misremember the Masterphish password? What has gone wrong?

My phone starts buzzing, but diverts to voicemail before I remember that I left it on the other side of the room.

Time to hit the “Call last number” button:

You were called by HSBC, no further action is required by yourself, and there is no need to return the call.

That isn’t very helpful.

I dig out the number for card services and call them back anyway. After a lot of rigmarole, where I inevitably wanted the last menu option, and wasn’t allowed to hear the first menu until I had listed to my balance report, I got to speak to a human … who had to transfer me to another department which made me say “Yes, I did spent that money” for every transaction I made in the last two days (quite a lot, I’m preparing for a party) before believing that I really wanted to spend a large sum on money on an annual train ticket.

Then I got to deal with my railway company’s order system again (naturally, I had to start from scratch).

As I wrote this, I received a voice mail (sadly, there is significant lag on the O2 voicemail system):

Good afternoon, my name is something incomprehensible in an accent from another continent and I am calling from the bank HSBC and have a prerecorded message for you.

Oh joy, the human touch. I feel so loved.

The HSBC theme tune

Sorry. I’m not thinking of HSBC as a superhero right now. This theme tune serves only to annoy. Especially as it reminds me of earlier this month when I spent ten minutes listening to it on a loop.

Please urgently call HSBC on …

Excuse me? “Urgently call”? How does that square with “there is no need to return the call”?

HSBC have been my bank for a decade and a half. I have a credit card from a different bank in the post. Next year I shall look around for a new current account.