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The World’s local bank?

I had cause to travel to London on 29th July 2011. Given that this meant bending the plastic a little, I thought I’d better call the credit card company, in this case HSBC, to let it know that I’d be doing this – after all I did not want the darlings to think a tea leaf had my card and for it to be declined somewhere.

So I called the 0845 number appearing on the card statement and went through the usual fiasco in trying to talk to a member of the human race. This or that button was pressed, numbers were entered and the diatribe in the recorded message was listened to, including the balance on the account, whether I wanted it or not. At long last I got through to a person – in India. To be fair, she spoke good enough English though the worrying part came after I had told her that I was travelling to London; clearly thinking that London was a country she proceeded to ask me which city I was going to. I replied that London was the city. She then explained that it would take twenty-four hours for the records to be updated and in the meantime it would be wise to take some currency and travellers cheques with me!

Now you’ll forgive me for being the old cynic that I am but whenever I see an advertisement for HSBC, it cants on about being the World’s local bank and knowing its ass from its elbow when it comes to local customs and knowledge. Yet my experience told me two things; firstly that HSBC’s advertisment is just plain wrong or, in the alternative, the person it had employed in India to deal with ‘local’ customs had, on a cursory examination, no knowledge of just where London was (and incidentally still is) or that it was in the country where the cardholder (allegedly a customer) was already based.

This is not the first bank to suggest, through its advertising, that we should rely on its expertise, though it is odd that I have just had to make a formal complaint about the very same bank after taking some five weeks to word a letter in a format acceptable to a lender. On this occasion, our customer, who is very much based in the UK, had an account which was unfortunately in recoveries – guess where the recoveries department is based? You’ve got it – India!

Frankly, it is little wonder we have had a banking crisis in this country. It would be my opinion that what matters to HSBC is saving money at the expense of doing what it says in its advertisements; in other words we customers suffer for it. The message, in my submission, is that HSBC is not only literally a continent adrift in being the World’s local bank, but is such that I would rather trust an eight year old or a group of chimpanzees with my money.

But then again there is little to choose amongst any of them – it is not worth the time, in voting with your feet, only to jump out of the frying pan of fecklessness into the fire of mediocrity.

So now you know why the word banker is cockney rhyming slang!

Good bad or indfferent let me know your own experiences.

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