Friday, 27 December 2013

Interview on Radio 4 Moneybox

Don't forget to tune into Radio 4 Money box tomorrow (Saturday 28 December) at noon to hear my interview about HSBC's decision to close my accounts without explanation.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

HSBC's incompetent customer service

Today I received a letter from HSBC about the transfer of my account to NatWest. Most of it is just blurb selfishly protecting themselves from the possibility of me leaving a red balance when I exit. But then the letter ends with this astonishing statement:

"...We are sorry you have chosen to move your account. If we can help you with any future banking or financial needs, please do not hesitate to call us. Yours sincerely etc."

??!!, I mean, ??!! 

Let's make this clear, HSBC: I did not choose to move my account, you chose to close it. This letter is final proof that you do not know the meaning of personalised customer service. If you did, you wouldn't have sent it to an angry blogger. 

I won't be calling you because you are definitely not the kind of bank I want to do business with.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Today's mixed messages from HSBC

Just got this letter from HSBC this morning, so I thought I'd have some fun with it.

Subject:We've got you covered

Well, yes, that's one way of putting it.
Date:15 Dec 2013
We understand how busy things can be at this time of year. So we thought we'd remind you of a couple of ways you can keep in touch with your HSBC accounts whenever it suits you.
Really? OK: it suits me to keep in touch with my HSBC accounts after 20 January when you are going to close them.
Our friendly Telephone Banking team are available on 08457 404 404* to help with a range of requests - from bill payments and transfers, to general questions - between 8am and 10pm every day, except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
That's nice, but the range of questions your friendly team are prepared to answer doesn't include why you are going to close my accounts without explanation.
We also have a 24-hour automated helpline, which is available throughout the festive period, so you can make transfers, pay bills and check your account whenever you like. Set up your details today by calling 08457 400 004*.
Why would I set up the details today when you're going to close my accounts in 33 days time?

Best wishes for the festive season, from all at HSBC
Errr, let me get this right, HSBC is sending me best wishes? How confusing is that?!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Interview with BBC Radio 4 Money Box

Today I was interviewed by the presenters of BBC Radio 4 Money Box, Paul Lewis and Lesley McAlpine, about HSBC's decision to close my accounts with no explanation.

Before the interview, Lesley McAlpine wrote to me: "I have just received a statement from HSBC on your case... they say precisely nothing. Which proves your point."

The program will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 28 December at 12 noon, and will also be available as a podcast.

Listen in!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

My MP's letter to HSBC

House of Commons, 13 December 2013

Mr Stuart Gulliver
Group Chief Executive
HSBC, 8 Canada Square
London E14 5HQ

Dear Mr Gulliver

I am writing on behalf of my constituent, Mr Roberts.

As you can see from the enclosed correspondence, Mr Roberts is concerned by the recent decision to close the account he held at HSBC.

I would be most grateful for your clarification regarding the closures, assurance that Mr Roberts' concerns have been fully considered, and for your comments on the case.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter, I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Mrs Sarah Newton MP

My MP's response to complaint about HSBC

This morning I had a meeting with my MP, Sarah Newton, who agrees that HSBC's decision to close my account without explanation is unacceptable and is willing to take action on my behalf. When I got home, this letter was waiting for me:

House of Commons, 13 December 2013

Dear Mr Roberts

I appreciate you taking the time to write to me to pass on your concerns regarding the closure of your HSBC accounts.

I have noted your comments and understand how important it is for you to receive clarification regarding HSBC's decision to close the account you held with them. I have now written to the Chief Executive Officer at HSBC to request that this clarification is provided.

I hope this is helpful and to be able to update your further in due course.

Yours sincerely

Mrs Sarah Newton MP

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it.

Read RollingStone's opinion of HSBC

HSBC promotion excludes black Africa

Hey HSBC, if you're the World's Local Bank, why doesn't this promotion in my local branch list any locations in black Africa where I live?

Complaint to Financial Ombudsman about HSBC

Dear Sir or Madam

On 21 November 13 I received a letter from HSBC stating that all the accounts I hold with them are to be closed. They give no explanation or even invite me to query their unilateral decision. 
Neither my local branch (Truro) nor the head office have been able to explain why this decision has been taken. So I wrote to customer services on 25 November. Their reply of 28 November confirms that the decision will not be overturned. I have been banking with HSBC and its predecessor Midland Bank for 35 years, all my adult life. My accounts are in a healthy state. I consider this to be a completely unacceptable way of treating a loyal customer.
I realise that HSBC isn't going to revoke their decision, so have already opened a new account elsewhere. But I am complaining to you for two reasons. First, I want to help expose the injustice of this practice that I believe should be illegal. Second, I wish to claim compensation from HSBC for the stress and disruption their decision has caused.
In the meantime, I am publicising this injustice as widely as possible through social media.

Yours sincerely

West Briton highlights HSBC injustice

Many thanks to the West Briton for highlighting the injustice of HSBC's decision to close my account without explanation.

Anxious HSBC customers

Some Facebook comments on this blog today:

"Sorry to hear about your problems with them (I have a large mortgage with them so hope they don't do the same to me!)"

"Hoping Cambodia doesn't go the same way as Africa as far as HSBC are concerned, as I bank with them too. So sorry to read about your experiences. I think the helplessness in it all makes it worse"

HSBC: Highly Suspicious Bank Charges

Nice to know I'm not the only one. A comment about this blog on Facebook today:

"Wow, this is a bit sobering! My Dad had problems with them once when he realised they'd been overcharging his business for several years."

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Benefits of quitting HSBC

OK, that's that done and dusted. Opened a new account with NatWest today. Everything will be transferred over automatically within 7 days.

And I'm already reaping the benefit: I just saved £20 on the fee for an international transfer to Germany - £10 at NatWest instead of £30 at HSBC.

Radio 4 MoneyBox on to the case - part 2

Had a lengthy phone call with the program producer this morning.

Apparently MoneyBox has already focussed several times on the issue of banks closing customer accounts with no explanation, and it's a subject that the public feels strongly about. No surprises there.

So I'm going to be interviewed next week for a program that will be broadcast on 28th December.

Radio 4 Money Box onto my case - part 1

Just got a message from the producer of Radio 4 Money box saying they want to discuss HSBC's decision to close my account with no explanation. More to follow...

West Briton highlights HSBC injustice

Thursday 5th December 2013

'Bewildered' by bank's decision to shut accounts

A Truro man is 'bewildered and angry' after his bank closed his accounts without giving any reason.

Development worker David Roberts was left 'astonished' after HSBC told him it intended to close all of his accounts without giving any reason.

Mr Robert, 54, has been with the bank for 35 years, having set up his first account with HSBC's predecessor, the Midland Bank.

He said: "I'm bewildered and angry. It's quite astonishing and stressful. The letter states that they intend to close all of the accounts I hold with them. They give not the slightest explanation for why they consider this action to be necessary. Neither do they give me the option of keeping the accounts open or even politely inviting me to appeal the decision. Yet my accounts are in a healthy state.

Mr Roberts said staff at the Truro branch had always been helpful.

He said: "My gripe is with the head office of HSBC who think they an just show me the door after 35 years of being a customer."

Mr Roberts said he had learnt that any bank could close an account with no explanation, potentially leaving the customer in great difficulty.

He said: "One of the difficulties for me is if I don't know why they are closing my account then how do I choose a new bank?"

Mr Roberts carries out language development work in Africa, which means his account is untouched for long periods and is then in use every day.

He said he had "absolutely no idea" if that had prompted the bank's action.

"I want to prove my innocence. I feel branded as a criminal", he said.

"I consider this to be a completely unacceptable way of treating a loyal customer.

A spokesman for HSBC said it could not discuss individual cases.

The spokesman said "I'm afraid account closures can be a difficult decision for the bank to take and for a customer to accept."

"As a bank committed to controlling and managing risk to the highest international standard in every country we operate in, we may have to take the difficult decision to close a customer's account where we do not feel that risk can be managed to those standards."

Friday, 6 December 2013

HSBC suspicious of expats in Africa

From a friend today: I decided to grasp the nettle and asked HSBC to check whether there was still a query on my account. They checked, and there wasn’t. But they did ask me twice whether I ever received funds from Africa into my HSBC account. No, No, and NO, not ever!! Of course, they just don’t understand our situation and the bank employees are as powerless as we are to change things. So, keep shouting!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Friends' comments about HSBC injustice

I'm thinking of reverting to using the mattress instead of the bank.

This is getting way beyond normal.

I think this is completely unacceptable and outrageous... The worst part, as you rightly point out, is that you have no recourse to justice nor to an explanation.... I may be on borrowed time myself. Hope you can get some satisfaction. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

HSBC money laundering report

A 300 page report reveals failure after failure at HSBC led to the London-based bank being used as a conduit for "drug kingpins and rogue nations".

HSBC blasted for 'stunning failures over oversight'

A report says "dangerous practices" at HSBC allowed the bank to pass money to "drug kingpins and rogue nations", as it fined it $1.9bn (£1.2bn).

HSBC blacklisting expats in Africa?

HSBC has taken the decision to close my accounts without explanation. Could it be because I live and work in Africa? A friend writes: 
"I too, have had an HSBC account for 30+ years. Recently, they had me fill in a customer account review. A couple of weeks later, the bank asked me to come in. They weren’t happy with the fact that one of my addresses was in Africa. But although the staff were as confused as I was that there was a query on my account, they were also a bit politely suspicious of me."