My three month saga of complaining to HSBC and bad-mouthing them to anyone who will listen would appear to be coming to a close. You can read my previous posts about it, if you’re feeling masochistic, in chronological order here, here and here.
At the weekend I received the bank’s official Final Response from someone who purports to be the/a manager in the customer relations department, i.e. not from some dipshit belonging to the Fraud Detection Team based in India who basically don’t give a fuck.
It has been a long hard slog of refusing to accept their useless, contradictory, misleading replies and persisting in complaining more loudly at each step of the way. But I have finally had a response from them that a) fully addresses the detailed complaint letters I have been sending them without sidestepping the harder-to-explain-because-you’re-basically-liars issues; and b) doesn’t leave me feeling like I want to explode with rage.
I still think it is appalling that I have had to write to them three times before getting a satisfactory response, or even a response that made sense and didn’t make matters worse. Their customer service has been completely reprehensible. They should have nipped this in the bud much earlier on, but they clearly didn’t realise how much energy I was prepared to devote to going on at them.
I am going painstakingly to type out the full text of their reply below, but by all means skip it if you can’t be bothered. I’m only doing it because I vowed to publish all parts of my correspondence with them on here, and because like that old baggage in Nanny McPhee I never, ever break my word (although I actually do, all the time in fact, you should check out my marriage vows, they’re in more tatters than Paris Hilton’s knickers).
The short version of their reply, for your convenience if you don’t want to read it all is:
- they have accepted that the Fraud Detection Team gave me contradictory, misleading and incorrect information.
- while they don’t accept that the Fraud Detection Team intentionally lied to me (they so did though), they can see why it may seem that way to me.
- they have admitted that the Fraud Detection Team do not know exactly how a customer’s card was compromised (i.e. when they say the police have found your number on a list of copied card numbers, they don’t actually know this is true; it is just one of a few different scenarios that are possible reasons for your card being flagged. They pick the scariest one in order to scare you so you’ll let them cancel the card).
- in the spirit of conciliation, and acknowledging that I have never actually asked for any compensation, they want to give me ONE HUNDRED ENGLISH FUCKING POUNDS to reflect the ‘frustration’ I have been caused.
So yay! The moral of the story is: DON’T BELIEVE what the Fraud Protection Dickwads tell you (as I’ve always maintained), and COMPLAIN COMPLAIN COMPLAIN because eventually they’ll give you money to shut you up. I never expected to get any cash for this, I’ve been inconvenienced and annoyed but never actually lost any money, so it hadn’t even occurred to me. But because they want to resolve the complaint and because they know £100 is a lot of money to most people, they dangle it in front of you on condition that you accept the matter is now closed.
My only alternative if I wanted to pursue the complaint further is to take it to the financial ombudsman, which I think HSBC would rather avoid because it doesn’t make them look very good. The ombudsman has no power to fine or sanction the bank though, or to make them pay me anything beyond money I’ve lost as a result of their actions, so I really don’t see the point in going through that whole process now. My aim throughout this has been to highlight how rubbish their policies are, and how terrible their Fraud Detection Cuntbiscuits are at dealing with customers. It took a LONG time just to get the complaint escalated beyond the Fraud Detection Department, but I feel much more satisfied now that someone in that big HSBC building in Canada Square has read my complaint, spent weeks compiling all the details (he really has, you can tell), and has sent me back a proper, measured response.
So yay me, yay for the cactus, and yay for free money. And I’ve already changed bank now anyway, so they can’t do it to me any more. So fuck you, HSBC.
Herewith, their letter which you don’t have to read. I’m off to do an I’ve-Got-£100 dance.
— Letter follows. Comments in caps are my own —
I write from HSBC Customer Relations Department with regard to your ongoing complaint about the bank’s fraud prevention procedures, as they have applied to your accounts.
At HSBC we like to resolve complaints quickly and efficiently, ideally at the first point of contact. I regret that on this occasion, despite the best efforts of my colleagues based in our Fraud Prevention Team (BEST EFFORTS? HAHAHAHA!), you remain dissatisfied with the bank’s overall response to date.
As such, in accordance with our internal complaint handling procedures, the matter has been passed to this office for review. I write this letter, the bank’s final response in the matter, with the aim of clarifying our position and setting out your entitlements vis-à-vis the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
Thank you for your email to HSBC Service Quality, dated 20 September 2010; it is clear that we have not provided a satisfactory response to the points you have raised.
Unfortunately, my colleagues in the Fraud Detection Team have provided you with some incorrect information regarding the compromise of your card and for this I apologise.
To explain, as an organisation, we receive information regarding card compromises from various sources and it is this which has led to the inconsistent information you have been provided (THAT AND THE FACT YOUR STAFF ARE LIARS).
We are not able to circulate widely the specific information regarding the card compromise because, as previously informed, this information is highly restricted so we do not jeopardise any ongoing investigations. (CONVENIENT)
I can confirm that fraudsters do on occasion use ‘random number generation’ to obtain card details, however due to enhancements in the authorisation system and our fraud strategies, fraudsters are now significantly less successful using this technique.
Unfortunately, with the information available to them, operatives based within our Fraud Detection Team are unable to determine exactly how a card could have been compromised. Nonetheless, I can tell you this could have taken place through a variety of channels, for example malware attacks, a data hack into a retailer’s computer or through a collusive member of staff working for a legitimate retailer.
When we receive information regarding compromised cards we prefer not to cancel the cards immediately as we cannot be sure they will be used fraudulently. To provide a better service (HA!) and have less of an impact on our customers (HA!), we find it more effective to ‘mark’ the accounts in order to monitor the spending on these cards and to highlight any suspicious usage on the account. The card details may not be used fraudulently immediately but there is still a risk that the card can be used fraudulently in future.
As such, once an account has been highlighted to our Fraud Detection Department due to suspicious usage, we take the opportunity to cancel and replace the card as a precaution.
We do provide the Fraud Detection Team with regular training in order to help them deal with this type of call but unfortunately, some of the team may have inadvertently (YEAH RIGHT) provided incorrect information to customers whilst attempting to explain what has happened to their card.
I do not think the Fraud Detection Team intentionally lied to you, however, I can understand that it may seem this way when you are given conflicting information from different team members regarding the compromise of your card. I have therefore arranged that appropriate feedback be given to the staff members involved in order to prevent any repeat occurrences in future.
The Fraud Detection calls in question have been reviewed, and I can confirm that when you spoke to my colleague on 2 August she cancelled and replaced your debit card due to the presence of the marker. She also checked to make sure the credit card was available to use but unfortunately there was also a marker on this card which may have prevented you from using the card. (<- THIS DOESN’T ACTUALLY ADDRESS HOW THIS CARD COULD HAVE BEEN COMPROMISED WHEN I NEVER USE IT)
As your debit card had already been cancelled you were offered a marker that would have restricted the use on the card but still allowed you to use the card until the new debit card had been received. I apologise if you feel the operator was being ‘malicious’ in dealing with both cards at the same time but, from the recording of the call, it seemed that it was her intention to appear helpful by doing this. (CANCELLING BOTH CARDS AT THE SAME TIME, ELIMINATING ALL ACCESS TO MY MONEY = VERY HELPFUL THANKS)
Unfortunately, as there are various ways in which card details can be compromised, I cannot provide specific instructions to stop this happening again in future.
Having said that, there are things you can do to minimise the risk of this happening again. Please allow me to set out some proven tips on how cardholders can safeguard themselves from fraudsters.
- If you are travelling abroad, we would like to know your travel plans so please contact us. This will allow us to update our Fraud Detection Systems, which will significantly reduce the possibility of inconvenience to you when using your card(s) abroad.
- When using your card be aware of people around you. Always use your hand to shield your PIN to make sure your PIN remains private.
- Never disclose your PIN when ordering by phone, mail-order or online. The only person that should know your PIN is you.
- Never divulge your HSBC telephone security number to anyone calling you, even if they claim to be HSBC staff or a Police Officer. HSBC will only use this code to identify you when you call us. (THE FRAUD TEAM HAVE ASKED ME FOR THIS BEFORE WHEN THEY HAVE CALLED ME THOUGH, BECAUSE THEY ARE IDIOTS).
- Shred all documents that contain sensitive information such as name, address, date of birth, etc. to help prevent identity theft.
- Avoid spam emails and pop ups. See if you can select a filter option on your PC or if you can upgrade to a newer version which does. (YAWN)
- Download your free security software to safeguard your PC from the risk of infection from viruses by clicking on the free Rapport security link from our website. (THIS ISN’T WHAT RAPPORT DOES)
- Only access personal internet banking or shopping sites by typing in a web address. Never use a link from an e-mail.
- Block unwanted spam as this will also block most phishing emails.
- Register for Verified by Visa to make your online payments more secure.
- Is there an “s” after “http” in the address box? If URL begins with https, the chances are it’s a secure site.
- Look for the padlock symbol in the browser window as you proceed to payment.
For further information on how you can protect yourself from fraud please go to our website www.hsbc.co.uk and follow the Security links.
I am sorry to hear of your concerns; you have been a valued customer of the bank – our systems indicate that you have held accounts with the organisation since 1993 – and I would like the opportunity to restore your faith in the bank in the future.
As such, although I understand that you have not in fact requested any form of financial compensation in respect of this matter, the bank will offer £100.00 to reflect the frustration caused by the incorrect information you had previously been given. This offer is made, in order to bring matters to a final conclusion, and I do hope that this offer will be viewed in the conciliatory spirit it is intended.
To denote your acceptance of the bank’s offer, please sign and return the attached declaration in the prepaid envelope provided. On receipt of this, I will arrange for your account to be credited.
Alternatively, should you continue to consider that the bank has not responded fairly to your complaint, I am now formally obliged to inform you that, you do now have the right to refer your complaint to the FOS. Should this course of action indeed prove necessary, I will confirm that the bank will co-operate fully with the investigation and be guided by any ultimate Ombudsman adjudication.
Thank you for taking the time to bring your concerns to the bank’s attention. I am only sorry that it was necessary for you to do so.
— Letter ends. Insert KA-CHING noise and modest shower of money —
Other posts on this topic:
Why HSBC can go fuck themselves with a massive cactus
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