HSBC claims to be the global bank - or at least that's what it says on UK adverts and on its website. Truth is it is anything but a global bank. At least in the online sense. How do I now? I live in Spain, most of my income arrives via USD or GBP. Very little arrives in euros though I have a Spanish bank account. Given the way Spanish banks operate means it is better for me to be paid into a UK account and then transfer to my Spanish account. Sounds complex? I don't think so. But it would seem to represent a nightmare to my new bank - HSBC - which claims global status. Example:
While in the UK last week I tried to top up my 02 mobile account with my HSBC debit card. It failed. Earlier today I tried the same thing online. Failed again. I had to call up the support line. That cost me $6 but in fairness, the Visa Debit person I was passed through to flawlessly talked me through the card registration process. Oh...didn't I tell you? Apparently I was not registered on the 'system.' I didn't know that and nothing on screen advised me of that issue.
So now, $6 lighter, my card is approved....but wait a minute...I still can't get credit online. I can however get credit by calling the freephone 4444 number. I am relieved.
Less than an hour later I get a call from the HSBC fraud prevention peeps. That's worrying. They tell me about the earlier failed transaction...is it debited to my account? Apparently not...but then they want confirmation of the validated result of the second transaction. Duh? Are you kidding me? The transaction was completed online with a Mastercard/Visa SecureCode validation (set up with the help of Visa) so why call me up? And...from the Indian call center from where the person only spoke passable English?
We're told we live in a flat world. I've been offshore from the UK more than 13 years. I need a bank that isn't going to call me up up every few moments to check that what I am trying to achieve is 'normal.' Global should mean what it says...unfettered, simple access to the cards they deliver, subject to 'normal' security checks? Not the risk averse vagaries of services that are tied to your account. It destroys the 'global' mantra and costs everyone money and time who gets caught in 'the system.'
In the meantime, how the heck are international organizations supposed to manage their affairs when this kind of nonsense rules?
I am not a happy bunny....
Update: Idly trawling through weekend emails the phone rings. It's the bank. They want to check another transaction. What is the matter with these people? In exasperation I call up the bank's helpline in an effort to get them off my back: 'It's because you're abroad.' Errr....we set up the account because they claim to be the world's bank and in any event, these are internet transactions plus when we set up the account we told them we're offshore and were assured that would make no difference. On hold at whatever rate per minute. They have no idea why it is happening. It must be comedy hour somewhere.