HSBC – Not The Worlds Local Bank

It’s simple. HSBC call themselves “the worlds local bank” but they are anything but.

For the second time in a few years HSBC has f**ked up my holiday by cancelling a wrong card, mis-informing me and then being unable to do anything about it.

How is RBS able to deliver a card to me in 72hrs yet HSBC the ‘worlds local bank’ unable to do it AT ALL. I even pay for an “advance” service. Apparently, even as a “premium” customer you’d still not get a new card in a timely manner, they can only send them to your home address or to a branch – and it takes 7-10 days.

Why is it that one of the globes largest, most profitable banking groups is unable to deliver a new card to a customer within a timely manner? especially when Royal Bank of Scotland managed it within 48 hours?

There have been all manner of reasons I’ve been given – last time I was even told “it’s illegal to send a VISA card to another address, it’s not HSBC’s  fault it’s VISAs” (evidently from RBS, that is a lie).

So I was told it was impossible. Then I called again, this time it suddenly WAS possible, but provided that I had manager authorisation… but it would still take 5 days.

Western Union

They finally suggested a Western Union transfer. I then went on a wild goose chase to a Post Office in France, which didn’t exist, as HSBC gave me the wrong details.  Western Union called and said the nearest place was 50km away. With no money and it now being already 5pm, that was not an option. Eventually I then went to another post office, having found it via my pigeon French, but it was not possible to get the cash.

HSBC had suggested that might be the case, due to French post offices apparently not liking to accept transfers from business (?). In addition, even if they DID, the Western Union system had been broken all day today and yesterday in this area apparently, so I could not even get a friend to do a personal transfer.

More wasted time. We’re up to 7 hours thus far, having missed yet another day’s skiing – and the costs associated with doing so.

VISA Emergency Cash Delivery

After more calls, I finally spoke to someone at HSBC who seemed to have a brain, and give a sh*t about my situation. Let’s call him “Ben”.

Ben said he would organise an emergency VISA cash delivery – this involved yet more telephone calls. VISA called me and I spent another 20 minutes organising it giving details. She gave me a reference number. They said they would liaise with the bank and call back.

3 hours later, no call. It’s now 8pm. The number the VISA girl gave me does not work, so I check their website. The UK number repetedly cuts me off thru the automated process. I call the USA. They trasnfer me and after 20 minutes I speak to someone finally. The reference number I was given is wrong. Thankfully, we guess the mistake and I get the right number.

VISA inform me that they dont have authorisation from HSBC. More waiting. I also am told that when they do get authorisation, it wont be a cash delivery, but it will be a Western Union transfer.

This whole experience becomes more and more surreal and ridiculous.

I get transferred twice in HSBC and speak to a “Karen”. She informs me HSBC has no request from VISA. She say’s she’ll look into it. She also says that it won’t be cash but an emergency card.

The Emergency Card

Where did this emergency card appear from? Only 24 hours ago, it was not possible to get one. Now my 500 euros emergency cash, is a card. “Karen” say’s she’ll sort it out and call me back. At 8pm, the prospect of eating in the next 12 hours, looks like zero.

I’m still without money in France and as I write this, pretty damn hungry as I haven’t eaten all day. I’m cold and fed-up.

Parity of Conduct

When we make a mistake, such as go overdrawn when unauthorised, the banks slap up with a charge. Yet when the banks make a mistake or are negligent, ruin my holiday, use up my time, cost me money via calls, lost events not to mention the stress and discomfort (I had to walk 5km up a mountain in -5 centigrade in the dark, after my card stopped working). I twisted my back and knee walking on the ice, the accident also reigniting the sternum injury I had from two years ago, as the violent twist put a great strain on my ribs.


Is HSBC going to pay me for that personal injury or the affect it will have on the rest of my ski holiday? Were it not for their negligence I would not have been walking up an icy road, in pitch dark, in freezing conditions to get back to my accommodation – French drivers by all accounts don’t pick up hitchhikers.

HSBC are terrible internationally; simple as that.

I will be writing to claim compensation for this injury, trauma and stress. I’ll update this post with their response.

Right now, I’m going to open a new bank account elsewhere.


6 thoughts on “HSBC – Not The Worlds Local Bank

  1. Amen, brother. Beware of the advice of anyone who also thinks HSBC is a good option for international banking. It’s one of my favorite weed out questions, when sizing up people.

  2. How Do You Solve A Problem Like The British High Street Banks? « Urban Horizon

  3. Funny you should mention . . . I recently had to get an HSBC account overseas because that is the only bank the U.S. Social Security Agency uses to send SS payments overseas (at least in this country). By chance, a few months later, the company I went to work for also uses HSBC to make its automatic salary payments to employees. So, by default, I became a committed HSBC customer [grin].

    One day, I needed to take some money from an ATM. On the way home, I passed up chances to stop at two HSBC branches with ATMs because I had read on HSBC’s website that there was an ATM in a mall near my house. When I went to look for that HSBC ATM, security guards in the mall said the ATM machine had been taken away a month or two ago.

    So I called the local HSBC hotline and asked where another close-by ATM might be. I was told by the operator that it was many kilometers away at 5:00 PM when the roads are starting to get packed with people coming home from work. Like the HSBC story above, I didn’t have that much money in my pocket and I only finally got my money from an HSBC ATM the *next day*.

    Why didn’t an international bank like HSBC update its website with its ATM locations? What happens if someone needs emergency funds while in the middle of nowhere and at night? Does HSBC think it is okay to let its customers drive all over the place looking for its non-existent ATMs?

    “The Kicker”: by chance, a few weeks later, while riding in a taxi, I again called the HSBC hotline to ask where the closest ATM was to my current location. The guy on the hotline told me I didn’t need an HSBC ATM because with my HSBC ATM card, I could go to any bank’s ATM machine that was a member of the “Together Group” of local banks, that included HSBC. This was a large group of banks that had all agreed to let each others’ customers share their ATMs. Now, isn’t that amazing? Weeks after being told I’d have to drive kilometers to find the next nearest HSBC ATM, I learn that with my HSBC ATM card I’m not limited to HSBC machines. In fact, I can go to virtually any ATM in the country to get cash. Why didn’t the HSBC operator of my first hotline call tell me that? I was surrounded by these other banks’ ATMs and could have literally walked across the street to get my money that first afternoon.

    I suggest HSBC listen up: you need some serious management training about responding to the needs of your customers. You unarguably are a slick-looking bank but have some serious blemishes under that nice, shiny, new coat of paint of yours. Have a nice day [grin].

  4. HSBC does have serious problems, and I can confirm that they are still like this in 2015!

    Why a major, global bank such as HSBC, who advertises itself as he world’s local bank, and frequently markets itself as a normal retail bank, can’t organise emergency funds to be sent abroad, is a crime in itself.

    Even considering the situation, the bank is charging me for ringing them, holding an account with them, using their services to send money, etc, but they are still more stubborn and useless than a local bank.

    I hope you succeeded with your endeavour to get some compensation from HSBC. A bank that positions itself as HSBC does should have sent you funds when you needed it and provided contact details for you to ring free-of-charge.

    You were in an emergency situation with no money for food, hotels, or other petty expenses, and they still kept sending you in circles! As a customer of HSBC you should have been treated better!

    • HSBC is so fucked up… I once met a multi millionaire who met one of their bosses and asked why.

      He said. Sorry, we’re too big for you. Unless your net worth is flirting with billions, you’re not our target customer yet.

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