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Why HSBC can go fuck themselves with a massive cactus

4 August 2010 by superlative

I have been a customer of HSBC since I was 13 years old. They got me young by coming into our school one week to offer us Livecash accounts, and by wooing us with Midland Bank-branded holdalls and books of discount vouchers. God knows why I wanted the holdall, it’s absolutely hideous and is still lurking in a cupboard at my parents’ house, but want it I did and so I signed up.

I was with HSBC through getting my first job, opening my first proper savings account, all through university and into the start of my working life. I always imagined I would stay with them forever, and quite possibly end up with a mortgage from them at some point.

But now I hate them. I hate them hate them HATE THEM and so I’m leaving.

FOUR TIMES in two years my cards have been blocked and then cancelled by their Fraud Prevention team. FOUR. And every time I am without cards and acceptable access to my money for at least a week. Do they apologise for the inconvenience? No. Do they offer a satisfactory explanation for why they are cancelling my cards? No. Do I even believe the explanation they offer? No. Have I ever been a victim of card fraud and had unauthorised payments made on my card? NO.

The pattern of their decision to cancel my cards is always the same, and yet they deny there is a pattern at all, even though it is completely obvious that there is.

It works like this:

  • I try to make a payment using my card online, on a website I haven’t used before.
  • The payment is rejected.
  • Within two to five minutes my mobile starts ringing, and I pick up the phone to find a nice lady in India asking me if she can speak to [insert full name that no one apart from my bank ever uses]
  • She says “We have received information from the police that your card is on a list of card numbers that have been copied, and so we need to cancel your cards and issue new ones”.

“Does this have anything to do with the payment I just tried to put through online?” I say. “Because that’s fine, that was me.”

“No, this is unrelated to that. That must just be coincidence.”

“Really? Because that’s what you said last time as well. In fact you’ve said that four times to me: no, it’s just a coincidence that we happen to have called you moments after a failed transaction. So that’s four coincidences in two years?”


“What makes you think my card has been copied?”

(reads out her bit of script again) “We have received information from the police that your card number is on a list of cards that have been copied.”

“When and where was this?”

“I can’t tell you that. It might jeopardise any investigation into the fraud.”

“Can you tell me what I can do, how I can change my behaviour in future, so that this doesn’t keep happening?”


ARRRRRGH! And usually they just cancel the debit card, but this time oh no, stupid me I ask if I’ll still be able to use my credit card while they replace the debit card.

“Just let me check that. Oh, it looks like we’ve received information about this card as well. We’ll have to cancel that too.”

“But no one has called me about that, why have you only just realised you’ve received information?”

“We work on a queue, they probably just haven’t got to you yet.”

“But I hardly ever use that card. The last time I used it was in April. How can it have been copied since then, and yet no fraudulent transactions have been made on it, and you haven’t asked to cancel it?”

“They might not have copied it in April, they use random number generation to get hold of people’s card numbers.”

REALLY? They randomly generate the numbers do they? Why yes, I can see that you can generate a list of all the 16-digit numbers that exist, even I could do that, but to generate matching start and expiry dates and the security code off the back? They just do that randomly? In which case, doesn’t that mean that EVERYONE’S CARD is always in a state of having been copied ALL THE FUCKING TIME and therefore every card should be cancelled and replaced?

I actually think the bitch only cancelled my credit card because I argued the toss with her for so long about the debit card, and so she decided to stick the boot in.

I don’t mind them taking a pro-active approach to fighting fraud, but cancelling my cards FOUR TIMES in two years is fucking ridiculous. I have no cards now, apart from the lameass card for my savings account that will let me take cash out, and it’ll take “5-10 working days”, i.e. more than a week for me to get new ones. And I’ll have to go to the branch to get them, because of course you are expected to be at home waiting helpfully with your passport in your hand for the next week and a half to take delivery of your cards.

And do they apologise for that? No. And the fact is I just don’t believe them any more. If something about my online payment was flagged as suspicious, fine. Absolutely fine. Phone me, say “Did you just try to make this payment?”, I’ll say yes, and that’s fine. That’s good even! But phone me, lie to me, and cancel my cards every fucking time is just unacceptable.

Yes I know that every other bank might be just the same, but I haven’t heard of other people complaining of this all the time, and even if they are the same they can’t be any worse than HSBC for it.

And at least the bank I’m switching to has UK-based call centres, so I won’t have to have stilted and annoying conversations with people whose accents mean you have to listen really absurdly attentively so you can understasnd them and with two second pauses between each sentence while you wait for the delay on the line to catch up.

So yes, I’m switching. I’m livid and I’m switching, and I’m doing it while I’m still angry so that I actually get on and do it and don’t just live with their shitty customer service. I hope when they realise I’m taking all my banking elsewhere, including my savings account and credit card, someone from their cancellations team will ring up to try to persuade me not to so I can tell them exactly why I’m leaving, and why they can shove their services up their arse next to the big spikey HIV-infected cactus that I’ve bought them.


Other posts on this topic:
Why HSBC can go fuck themselves with a massive cactus – part 2, they may now insert the pot as well
Why HSBC can go fuck themselves with a massive cactus – part 3, the forearm’s going in
Why HSBC can continue to fuck themselves with a massive cactus, but can do so £100 lighter


  1. Matt Bova says:

    My great experience with HSBC happened when I was traveling abroad. Anticipating problems, I had called before my trip to have them note on my account that I would, in fact, be traveling across Europe and gave them the exact dates of which countries I would be visiting.

    After the first 2 days of my trip, my cards stopped working.

    I then had to call HSBC to learn that “my card had been compromised and was being used abroad.” They offered to send me new cards, but since I was packing up and moving every couple days there’s no way I would get it.

    For the rest of the trip I had to plan out what I was doing to include stops at physical banks during normal business hours so that I would have cash to spend. Luckily I was with friends who had working cards for when we checked into hotels.

  2. superlative says:

    That’s EXACTLY the kind of thing I’m talking about. They cancel first, don’t check with you or check their records properly, and then can’t ‘uncancel’ them, leaving you to deal with the mess. It’s fucking absurd.

  3. Helen says:

    RAGE! What absymal service. I’ve only ever had one problem with them, when I bought my ipod from amazon. They stopped the purchase rather than the card (which I only found out about when amazon emailed me – again, why can’t they call and check first) which was a minor inconvenience but still crappy service.

    I think you should turn this post into a letter (possibly leaving out the cactus bit) and send it to the manager of your branch, their customer services dept, the CEO of bank and several newspapers. You could be one of those unhappy looking people in the Argus!

    ps – I have the Midland branded merchandise too!

  4. Janna says:

    hmmm, I think I spot a trend here. I’ve had my card stopped twice in the last 6 months, leaving me without a card for 5 days. Always after I attempt a purchase online.
    This time I tried to purchase something the day before going abroad, they called from India and said my card was suspected of cloning, and as a precaution they stopped it. I argued that I was going abroad the next day and needed the card.
    They then (quote from script) said my card would be replaced in 5 working days. A few harsh words were spat by me and they unlocked it for the duration of my visit abroad, but still rung me twice while I was away with the same message. The day I get back the card is completely blocked and today I wait for a new one!!!

    Come on HSBC, lets keep the loyalty and sort your data problems out!

  5. Alan says:

    Exactly the same experience here. HSBC Cards stopped without any phone call, despite them having my phone number, because I was travelling in Ireland. Then a letter from the Fraud Unit saying that a suspicious transaction had occurred on my card. This was a repeating payment to my web hosts that has gone through every month for the last year, for exactly the same amount. Wow, yeah that sounds terribly suspicious. The person I talked to was utterly clueless and evasive, and reactivated the card while refusing to give any kind of rational explanation. I asked if I could opt out of their clearly idiotic “fraud prevention” program and simply take the risk of having my card used fraudulently, and they said no.

    Since then I’ve also not been able to use my cards for a couple of online transactions, with no explanation. Sounds very much like it’s time for me to switch to a bank that’s either less paranoid or more competent.

  6. superlative says:

    If you find that you can’t use your card for any online transactions at all, I would strongly suspect there is still a block placed on your card for this type of payment. They have the ability to block particular transaction types, in my experience it’s almost always online payments that they are most worried about.

    Only the Fraud Prevention Idiots would be able to remove such a block if they have put one on, I’ve found that staff in the branch on or normal telephone banking can’t even see there’s a block on there.

    Good luck anyway, and if you decide to switch the Cooperative Bank have been quite good to me so far!

  7. James says:

    Your story mirrors mine almost exactly, 4 times in 2 years. The latest one takes the biscuit though. With in 4 days of receiving my new card after my previous one had been “cloned”, I made the foolish mistake of paying my credit card off with it, and low and behold, they canceled it again. I think I’m going to go bank elsewhere as well now.

  8. superlative says:

    I’m not remotely surprised that they’re still doing it more than a year later. They’re not interested in changing their policy, or in providing anything approaching good service to their customers. This suits them perfectly, because if everyone’s card is always cancelled they can’t lose any money to fraud, and they don’t care how inconvenient it is to the customer – it’s no skin off their nose if you have no cards.

  9. Twizzle says:

    I have been reading with great interest all the comments on your blog. I have no idea why when I went to withdraw funds from my account 29th July 2011 I could not use my card when I telephoned the bank I was told there had been a report of possible fraudulent use of the card. Subsequently 18thAugust I received an email that confirmed this and could I call the Fraud Dept which I did they then said they could not give me information since I needed to re-set my security codes. I did this at another branch but they opened my envelope and I had to do it all over again. I have now received a letter dated 8th November “having reviewed your account I can confirm we had received confidential information that led us to believe that there was a high risk your card could be compromised for fraudulent purposes”… I have called the Fraud Department since my security codes are now in place and the reply to my question “are you in the branch with your passport”.. “umm no I am not”.. “are you on your way to a branch with your passport”.. “umm no I am not”.. “you must go to a branch with your passport”.. call ended ! Why must I go to the branch with my passport – did you do this ???

  10. Gr3g0r says:

    I have had the exact same problems! Once when I was in India with work and none of my cards would work. Rang from India and the issue was resolved within minutes (not including wait time) although to be fair I should have informed them, if I suddenly had a statement with lots of sales from distant plays I would question there anti fraud strategies. Then only a week ago I was rang at 8.30am on a Saturday morning, with the same thing that was mentioned about that my card had details maybe under fraud/copy. So after a 5 day wait for a new card and having to go to the bank for my money, I rang again and got abit more information that my card had been used on a website and that websites mainframe had been hacked and the details become vulnerable and the police contacted them regaining it. So as fair as I am concerned I would prefer a little wait on a card come through the post than it get copied and published and all over the world. They can’t give any website names as its still under investigation. Easy answers let them know if you’re going on holiday/abroad and don’t use your card on dodgy websites.

  11. superlative says:

    Yeah that’s not really what happened in my case though. I hadn’t used my card on any dodgy websites. The same has happened to more people I know, when they were trying to do things like buy a laptop on Amazon. Amazon is probably the least dodgy website you can get, but because their fraud detection software decided the behaviour was unusual for that customer they decided to cancel the card. And *then* they feed you a made up story about your card being copied or a website hacked, never with any details because it’s ‘under investigation’. They’re just liars who only care about protecting themselves from losses and not about any inconvenience caused to customers.

  12. Enverex says:

    I’ve had exactly the same issue. I’ve been with them for 11 years now, but they have cancelled my card (leaving me moneyless and screwed) twice now in 3 months because they “suspect” that my card details have been acquired somewhere. They wont tell me where and there are never any fraudulent transactions on my account. Changing banks ASAP. Absolute nightmare.

  13. Steve says:

    I have exactly the same experience with HSBC, I have all of my accounts with them and they keep doing the same to me.
    Ive just got off the phone from them with another card cancelled, I had one cancelled just after Christmas too.

    Same reasons as you, but I did once get someone helpful who said the reason for it is all around online shopping as you suspected. Same thing happens to me every time I setup a new online shopping service or do a batch of online shopping (card gets cancelled) !!! I cannot express my rage in words.

    Just trying to figure out a good bank to go to that dont do this all the £%$$%£ time!!!!

  14. superlative says:

    I’m not surprised at all. Complain until they give you £100 and then leave, that’s what I did.

    I can recommend the Co-Operative Bank as an alternative. If something happens on your card that they are suspicious of, you get an automated phone call from a robot woman (she’s probably a computer rather than an actual robot). She reads out the last few transactions on your card, and if you recognise them all you press 1. And if you do, she says “That’s fine, you can continue to use your card normally.” And that’s it! No cancelled cards, no fuss. It’s so much better than HSBC’s stupid policy.

  15. Twice in nine months here! Just happened today so I thought I would check if anyone else was having the same problem. Seems so.

    I was already on the fence of whether to switch since they introduced that annoying security pass thing, but this has pushed me over the edge.

  16. superlative says:

    I can recommend the Co-operative Bank, who I switched to (I know I recommend them to everyone on here, but I don’t work for them, honest!). They do have the annoying card reader thing, but they don’t make you use it for logging onto your account or for sending payments to people you’ve sent money to before. They just make you use it for creating new payees and new standing orders and things, i.e. hardly ever, so it’s MUCH better.

    They’re just generally better, and seem grateful to have your custom, unlike HSBC who are not.

  17. Rich Spring says:

    Wow. Just found this blog by searching for a reason why HSBC has cancelled my card twice in two months (the last time was about 10 minutes ago so I’m still in fresh rage mode!). The first time was whilst trying to buy tickets online (a familiar story it seems) but just now it was after entering my details into their useful sounding new app called ‘fast balance’ (tempted? Don’t. Unless you want your card cancelling again.) No explanation each time, just that ‘list of compromised numbers’ bullshit. Glad I’ve found that its not just me so thanks for posting! Think I’m gonna visit my branch and have it out with them.

  18. Jon says:

    I just had my card canceled again. And just like a lot of posters here, its the 4th time in two years. This time I’ve had enough and I’m leaving HSBC.

    Mine is a similar experience to all you guys. For me they always cancel it when I’m overseas. I always make a note to say what countries I’m going to but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I travel a lot and these days every transaction I make when I’m abroad I cross my fingers and hope that its going to go through. I thought banking was supposed to be a service? I’m certainly paying for it with bank service fees. Can they refund them to me to make up for the incredible inconvience and embassement when I’m out and can’t pay for something? In fact can they give me a big inconvience cheque? They would slap on huge overdraft fee if I went in negative balance. Can I slap them with a fee for not letting me get at my money?

    And while I’m at it. The phone service is horrible. As with you guys I get a phone call *after* my card has been blocked saying please call HSBC and our lines are open 24 / 7. I call the number, while in the shop embassingly saying to the staff that something is wrong with my card. Then I get through after going through many automated questions ( and spending lots on the international call ). The final message is, ‘sorry our lines are now closed. please call back during opening hours. 8am-8pm.’ Are you kidding me? So I’m getting really angry now so I call back, this time go for the ‘report a card stolen’ option, and get through to an indian. Now in my heart I no this isn’t going to work but I desperately try and reason with the guy on the other end. ‘Sorry sir, we can only report or block your card on this number. Please try this other number’. I write down this other number which did seem different to the main switch board number I’d called earlier. So I call it. Guess what the response was…. Of course it is closed, try again between 8am-8pm. Arrg! What the hell is this? Now I wasn’t in a desperate situation because I had cash. But I could have just arrived at the airport for instance and had nothing. Because of the time zone I was in I would have had to wait 6 hours to get through to the bank. How is this service?

    You know what this is. Its a stupid computer model that flags up anything with a remote amount of risk and just automatically cuts off those accounts. With their model they do prevent some fraud, but also thet flag up a lot of false positives. But if the false positives don’t cause HSBC to lose money, they don’t care. So its a net win for HSBC. This is impersonal capitalism at its worst. So, the only thing that is going to make a difference is if they start losing money by the false positives. eg. Leave HSBC now.

  19. Chris Emery says:

    I just had the same thing happen to me last night & it’s third time for me. Unbelievably bad service! Rang france to pay for my fishing holiday card declined! As soon as I put the phone down HSBC Fraud Team on the phone Arghhhhh!

    I said that’s it I’m changing banks and they don’t seem bothered at all.

  20. superlative says:

    No they never seem bothered when you say you’ll leave, and they always deny it’s got anything to do with the transaction you just that second had declined. They just lie, it’s appalling. And it depresses me that they’re still treating people just as badly three years on and nothing has changed!

  21. Cesca says:

    They’ve just done it to me for the second time in under a fortnight! I had it blocked and a phone call because I was trying to BUY THINGS with MY MONEY. I told the man that I was buying Christmas presents on a US website and have also been furnishing my new house. He unfroze it straight away. Then within 5 days the card is stopped again and I’m told that it’s been cancelled because ‘We have information that fraudsters are in possession of your card details.’ The woman says it’s nothing to do with the recent call but then proceeds to run through the same recent purchases that the previous HSBC caller queried.

    After 5 working days (a week) with no card, I collect it from the branch and it works fine. I’ve had it 24 hours and used it to pay a water bill and order pizza. Ten minutes ago I tried to use it to buy a jumper and IT’S STOPPED AGAIN. I know the script this time. I’m scared that if I do the Christmas shopping using my husband’s card they’ll cancel his too and leave us no way of buying any presents online or paying bills over the phone.

  22. Warren says:

    I don’t think there is a big enough cactus! Love the story!

    Your quite right the very old (and very good at the time) Midland Bank, (the listening bank) is long, long gone and its a shame.

    Same boat here, my card was embarrassingly declined last night after three attemps to pay for my renewal of my existing hosting account.

    A jolly call today from HSBC India (in the afternoon and not my local branch!) telling me how pleased I would be that I can now use my card to make a payment.

    Lets just say she wasn’t so jolly when she got off the phone and would have probably rather have took the cactus then take the wrath of verbal I gave her over the phone.

    1. Why didn’t no one call me sooner?
    2. Why you calling me from India?
    3. Why hasn’t someone from my branch contacted me?
    4. Who’s decision was it to stop my card?
    5. How is HSBC goiong to comphensate me for the inconvenience caused?

    etc, etc, etc

    I made it clear to her that with several accounts with HSBC (including business – thats another story!) unless they find a way to comphensate me for the inconvenience caused I will be taking my banking else where.

    I reminded her that ‘The bank works for me, and I don’t work for the F****** bank!

    Will be waiting for the call!

  23. Warren says:

    Just wanted to pop an update to my last post…..HSBC contacted me and again I gave them some serious verbal.

    After lots of appologies, HSBC sent me TWO gift wrapped bottles of with a ‘Sorry’ card attached.

    I had to laugh as it was sent via a courier and had a red bow wrapped around a HSBC box containing the bottles of wine.

    Well the moral of the story is not to lie down and be trampled on! Take some action! Good luck.

  24. superlative says:

    Haha, well done! It’s always worth complaining to the point that they just want you to go away…

  25. Carl Thomas says:

    This has happened to me more than 4 times and withing a year. Again, I find it happens when I us my card on sites abroad. A few days back my card was blocked and then another, within the space of a few minutes. I’ve had enough. And on top of the hefty overgrown fees which can be as high as £150 (which you can normally have written off or reduced if you complain enough), I’m starting to wonder if the money in my back account is mind or the property of the HSBC! I’m thinking of trying a community bank, as the high street banks are run by crooks, in my opinion.

  26. James Lee says:

    exactly the same problem over the year no explanation even called met police card fraud to assist and low and behold …confirmed no such investigation exists

    Absolute fucking liars …. went into my branch today and asked questions got no answers and in the end they took my bank card off me saying we are not reissuing you with a new card. I was made to feel like a criminal … all i attempted to do was pay my bill with more than sufficient credit in my account…

    what kind of fucking arseholes are they ???

    this isnt over as far as im concerned the lying corrupt banking cunts

  27. Dan says:

    HSBC cancelled my credit card in April and over the past 3 weeks have been closing every bank account I have with them. Yesterday they told me they were calling in my mortgages in 6 weeks! All of this without any real explanation – the best they have come up with is “Administrative reasons”, whatever the fuck that means. I have banked with them for almost 25 years without a problem. I am not a criminal. Be very careful of this bank – they are punishing honest and innocent people because of their own legal and compliance issues. One bright side is learning how to waste the bank’s time – you see, it seems that their employees are not allowed to hang up on customers, so call them keep asking random questions and they will sit there answering until you have had enough. Just keep questioning aspects of their previous answer. I know this adversely impacts the customer service to other customers and I apologize for that – you can also complain to HSBC.

  28. Damien says:

    Here’s my little contribution:
    To Whom It May Concern,

    Without Prejudice:

    I note with interest that HSBC topped the polls for complaints to the Financial Ombudsman in 2014, notably with a 6% increase in the area of customer service. Here’s one to add to the 2015 list!

    I have been a customer of HSBC for over 10 years. I have had communication with HSBC on several occasions within this period about poor service and, in particular, the poor service around correspondence relating to both personal and business accounts.

    As per your message that calls “may be monitored for quality and training purposes”, after the horrible muzak that has not changed since 2004, allow me to start this written chain of correspondence in the same tone I verified previous phone correspondence- Total f***ing incompetence!

    Without dwelling on the previous incidents of HSBC covering themselves in a cloud of pointless ineptitude let’s reflect on the latest series of events that have painted HSBC in all its glory….

    On the 2nd of August 2015 my wife and I departed the UK for a sun kissed holiday in the south of Italy; a belated honeymoon if you like. Considering that we work very hard to pump over £4k a month into HSBC’s system (commercial) and that HSBC’s investment arm no doubt then takes advantage of I am singularly unimpressed. We’d saved over 11 months to achieve this break.

    On the 2nd I paid for a breakfast for 2 at Jamie’s Italian at Gatwick airport so a reasonable person may consider that a holiday was about to be had. Lo”, I even bought duty free gifts and, considering the VAT mechanisms applied to the card schemes, this should have only solidified a trip abroad and that the card was functional were facts in action.

    Let’s fast forward to the 10th of August. I attempted to withdraw 60 euros from a Banco Di Napoli cash point and was greeted with the message that “the bank could not be contacted.” A meaningful message as this tale progresses….

    I wrote this off, as it’s a foreign country, thunder storms with power cuts (check the weather office) and because we had some euros left in hard cash what was the harm? (Apart from the embarrassment of borrowing the outstanding 55 euros for the bill and now having to transfer that amount to our kind but sceptical Italian friends….)

    More harm arose the next morning when I attempted to withdraw the cash for a taxi ride to the airport. Joy? I think not!

    The same message was received at the ATM and, naively, I thought, “This can’t be HSBC, I’ve been a loyal customer and they have global reach?”

    Reservedly, my wife and I roused my 71 year old Father in law (recently out of surgery) who very kindly started to drive us to the airport. Sadly that wasn’t going to work out so we roused sister in law and Mum. Have you ever tried getting though Italian traffic, with a stop for food an hour and half after your projected start time in rush hour that should have been avoided? And then the weather changes!

    Bugger me! Within half an hour about a year’s worth of rain fell and I’ve never seen stair rod lightning hit the road within a foot of a vehicle before….. Believe me, I’ve worked in some exotic areas too.

    Anyway, after a ride from a Mad Max set piece and suffering delays, we boarded the aircraft and eventually arrived home. Hope the family got home safe too…… We can’t be sure as we are moving home in a few days and have already transferred utilities such as internet (You know, Skype, Internet, Phone and so on) but more on that later.

    We get home. Hurrah! Quick shower and off for a curry before a film and bed. It’s all good, only have to leave home at 0520 hrs in the morning for work to be back by 1900 hrs.

    This is a work hour’s pattern to be repeated until 21/08/15 with a “small” break on 19/08/15 for a house move……. Wait for it!

    It was a lovely curry, very relaxing and welcome.

    Except I couldn’t f***ing pay for it! Why? The only response on the POS terminal was “Not Authorised.”

    Thankfully I have a good relationship with the proprietor and, embarrassing as it was, he agreed to take a chit debt.

    When I got home, somewhat perplexed, I rang 08457 404404 and went through the usual blah menu and awful unchanged muzak. By the way, how the hell can you be a progressive bank with no customer UX change via telephony in over ten years??

    But I digress.

    Having dialled 08457 404404 and gone through the statutory discouraging menu and hold times I eventually got through to a lady in Hamilton, Scotland. A novelty as it was previously Mumbai or similar.

    I was the informed that:

    • I had been upgraded to “HSBC Advance”
    (Wow! Has HSBC advanced me in life or advanced me cash?)

    • A card had been sent to me
    (News to me. I have received all my other mail yet no card)

    • 3 “chaser” letters had been sent to me
    (What is HSBC chasing me for? My old card, valid until November 2017 worked fine. I work in sales, a chaser letter is a sales tactic and I haven’t received them. I’m not f***ing sold so far!)

    • I was then informed that the letters had been sent to the same address my statements were sent to.
    (Bemused, as my current account statements are paperless, as per my online banking request. Check the recording and didn’t appreciate the tone from the call taker!)

    Following my extreme annoyance I was then put through to Michelle Bond, the on duty supervisor who relayed the above and stated it was an “opt in / opt out” product and because I hadn’t opted out I’d automatically accepted the terms of the Advance account.

    Ms. Bond informed me that the new card was sent out to me in May 2015 with 3 chaser letters thereafter.

    If I had not activated the card by August or responded to the letters do you not think there is half a bloody clue that either:

    A) Hadn’t received the letters and card
    B) Wasn’t interested in paying for the Advance account or upgrading
    C) A combination of the above
    D) Someone, other than me, had intercepted the card and letters (I’d seriously question your fraud screening tools….)

    You have my phone number on file. Perhaps I may suggest you should have used it!

    Furthermore, Ms. Bond said she “assures me” that the correspondence was sent. I am willing to bet HSBC uses a third party handler for this so Ms. Bond can only assure me that the data in front of her says this was sent but she cannot definitively assure me it was actually sent and delivered to me.

    I can ASSURE you that the correspondence was NOT delivered because if it had been I would have actioned it!

    In continuance, I have conducted some research on this upgraded account and it appears I now have the privilege of paying you blithering idiots £12.95 a month for a packaged account that I do not want. Even if I had received the correspondence I would be disinclined to take this up and certainly not now after this shoddy service.

    The saga continues……

    I was then put through to Martin Camposanl in lost or stolen. He informed me that it would take 6 working days to have a new card delivered.

    Fantastic! I move house in 6 working days!!!!!!! Martin then very helpfully told me because a new address was going to be in play it would now be 60 (yes, sixty) working days before a new card could be sent there. Are you people, excuse the term, clinically insane, stupid or both?

    The other option was to have a card delivered to a branch near me. Brilliant, except this can only be done Mon-Fri between 0900-1700 hrs. I refer you to my working hours in London.

    I will also tell you now that I bill at £45 per hour minimum for my full time position and £500 per day contracting. So you do the maths; by me setting aside a day to pick this card up what do I lose based on this cock up by HSBC?

    Mr. Camposanl then admitted liability on HSBC’s part by offering to credit my account with £50, which, frankly, is not going to cut it.

    We went backwards and forwards and I was told, by Ms. Bond and Mr Camposanl, that my old card was impossible to reactivate.

    Why? It is valid until November 2017. Visa as a scheme can reactivate it any time they wish and HSBC could and should have facilitated this.

    The options presented were to:

    • Collect cash from a branch- Check my history! Working in the payments industry I embrace technology and 95% of my transactions are contactless / PIN
    • Order a card and collect from a local branch- See my previous points about taking a day off
    • Pick up a card from a London branch- My working day is all over London and in a manner completely inverse to HSBC’s working practice i.e. nimble, fast, accurate and in a manner that I go to many clients to help them in many different areas of the city and their finances

    Out of frustration I hung up and called back later to go through yet the same bull again with different call takers and ultimately ended up ordering a card to my local branch for which I will now have to take a day off to collect. Well bloody done!

    During this call I received missed call alerts from 0345 603 2775 at 2143 hrs and 2155 hrs. After finishing ordering the card I called this number back in the hopes that it was HSBC and the matter had been efficiently dealt with.

    It was indeed HSBC with a recorded message of “You have been contacted by HSBC and need take no further action.” The levels of your communication errors are only eclipsed by politicians promises, government statistics and perhaps the radio operator who took the wrong radio crystals to Arnhem in 1944 during Operation Market Garden!

    In addition, if I get to the branch and discover that the card is an Advance card (with or without charges) not only will you be paying for hearing aids for whichever hapless employee hands it over I will gleefully and loudly inform every last customer, by vicarious conversation, of the shortcomings of HSBC until the matter is concluded to my satisfaction. After all, it will be a “day off” for me so why not enjoy it? Think of a mix between Basil Fawlty and Michael Douglas in the movie Falling Down, then double it!

    Let me spell out my position in plain language so that you understand:

    • HSBC has massively inconvenienced me whilst on holiday
    • HSBC continues to massively inconvenience me and it’s not the first time (but it will be the bloody last!)
    • HSBC has wasted hours of my time with this issue already
    • HSBC has miss-sold me a product that I did not want and was not aware of (I gather HSBC has form for this)
    • HSBC has cost me money on the phone to a premium rate number
    • HSBC has cost me money in my time that could and should have been spent elsewhere

    I have already zeroed my accounts by transferring every last penny to my wife’s account and any money that lands I will continue to transfer out to maintain the account as zero balance, at your expense, until you sort this out in a satisfactory and conciliatory manner.

    I am also interested in the level of HSBC’s botherometer as to retaining my business. I am not particularly enamoured with switching out all my direct debits, inbounds and payments to another bank (it’s merely a time issue) but I will do this if necessary.

    You know the old saying- Get good service and a customer will tell 1 or 2 people. If the customer gets bad service they will tell 10! Oh the joys of social media and witty hash tags could abound….

    If I have not heard from HSBC to my satisfaction within 24 hours I will report HSBC to the FCA, the Financial Ombudsman and consider making a claim, with a bankruptcy order, against the bank.

    If you cannot reach this deadline I would appreciate a postal address for HR so that I can send a brewing barrel, water, hops, maize, malted barley and a urinal for the course entitled “Effective Organisation.”

    Good day!

    Edited to remove name

  29. Mrfidget says:

    It is 2015 and I had the same exact conversation as you 5 years ago.

  30. Krum says:

    Same problems fucking idiots

  31. Mai-Anh Weiss says:

    March 2017 and same happened twice in 14 days. I m leaving the bank.

  32. Kinga says:

    This has just happened to me second time in a year. A day before I go on holiday they are blocking my card because I was booking flights online. I confirmed the flights were mine and it was me booking them, and also me buying the coffee in the morning. They said it had nothing to do with the transaction but they ‘received information’ which triggered this and they confirmed that independent information was received at 10.15pm, EXACT time I was making the transaction. What a bloody coincidence.

    • superlative says:

      Yep, sounds like a lie to me. They just don’t care. They’ve decided to cancel your card, and they don’t care whether you can prove it was you making the transaction or whether there was any fraud or not – they just want to cancel the card and your inconvenience doesn’t matter.

      It’s awful that seven years after I wrote this post their policy and even the wording they use when they lie to you hasn’t changed one iota.

      • Kinga says:

        OK, so I called a different department and said I was closing my account, and that I don’t appreciate being lied to and treated like an idiot (They kept talking about fraud but when I asked them to give me at least one example of an attempted transaction that they think was fraudelent they admitted they weren’t any.).

        Anyway,after I said I was closing my account and writing to the Ombudsman, then magically my card was reinstated and there is no more ‘serious fraud threat’ and no more ‘unrelated investigation’.

        So this is what I recommend to everyone. Don’t call the fraud team because they just recite the script and they will never stray ever. They’ve been trained to be very persistent robots. Call your normal customer service and say you want to make a complaint and that you will be closing your account. And then let them speak to the fraud team which will magically make it all go away!

      • Kinga says:

        In fact, I think they got worse. They haven’t called me on any of those occasions. I had to call them. First they said the ‘information’ was recieved earlier. So I said – if it was earlier why haven’t I heard from you? You just blocked my card and decided not to tell me? So then the story changed and the ‘information’ was received coincidentally the very same minute I was booking flights.

        I wish these sort of coincidences occured when I’m playing the lottery.

  33. Satan says:

    This keeps happening to me. Sometimes even for making payments to the same places. My card has been blocked a few times a year now for the last decade. The only way to not get it blocked is to not spend money. It has made my life a misery. My card is halfway useless. I have to carry wads of cash around at all times.

    They also almost never call. Only one in ten times. One time I was given the same bullshit excuse you were.

    I’ve been to India and talked to some of those who work for HSBC including the call centres. They say that basically they don’t care about the false positives as it is a very effective way to also prevent people from spending their own money which is bad for the bank.

    If you go on a spending splurge for some reason such as ordering a gift for a wedding you’ll be punished for that unusually lavish spending. If you also buy things that are luxurious you’ll be penalised for that as well.

    It is sort of a moral spending keep people frugal filter.

    The GDPR is out now though so lets see if we can lose HSBC 4% of their revenue in our efforts to get to the bottom of this.

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