Oct 19, 2009
kosmo - See all 760 of my articles
The final chapter was finally written in my saga with HSBC.
On Friday night, I made a quick trip to get some over-the-counter medications at the drug store and some groceries at the grocery store. My HSBC card was declined at both places. (Why did I try at the second place after it was declined at the first? Just in case the problem was related to the store). When my wife (primary cardholder) informed HSBC, she was told that this was due to a problem the Mastercard was having during this timeframe. This may indeed be correct, but I’m unable to find any news stories about this. Did anyone else experience problems with Mastercards being declined on Friday night?
In any case, this was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. We decided to cancel the card. It did take a bit of effort for my wife to convince the HSBC rep to actually cancel the card. We received a notification on Saturday that the account had indeed been closed. A big sigh of relief as we put this behind us.
We were running quite a lot of purchases through the card in order to take advantage of the cash back rewards (while paying off the full balance every month, of course). I suspect that HSBC would consider our level of use to be rather substantial.
For those of you who didn’t read the original article, here’s a recap of the chronology.
- I do some research and find the HSBC Weekender card, which features 1% cash back on all purchases and 2% on all weekend purchases. This sounded like a great deal. (And, in fact, it was. Redeeming the cash rewards was pretty easy).
- My wife signs up for the card and then does additional paperwork to add me as a second card holder. This means that she gets her card before I get mine.
- My wife activates the card via the 1-800 number. She attempts to use the card later that weekend and to her great embarrassment, it gets declined. Why? Because there was some sort of a problem with the automated authorization system. (Note: this isn’t listed in the earlier article because I had completely forgotten about it).
- We begin getting calls from telemarketers. The telemarketers appear to be shy and won’t tell us what they are actually calling about. This was very bizarre. We wouldn’t have bought the product or service anyway, but we couldn’t get them to tell us what they were selling. We were getting a LOT of these calls before calling and complaining a few times.
- HSBC had a security breach (many accounts affected) and had to issue new cards (with different numbers).
- My new card had my name wrong (first and last names transposed). The HSBC rep seemed to have considerable difficulty grasping the problem and the implications.
- After getting the new card, I try to use the automated authorization number. This doesn’t work, and I get kicked to a live operator, who tries to sell me additional services while she is activating the card. Bear in mind that I am speaking to her after a series of THREE problems by HSBC (security breach, wrong name on card, automated authorization failure).
- In April, we were at the mall for our weekly trip to Target and a few other stories. As we make perhaps the most predictable purchases in the history of the world, HSBC’s fraud alert gets triggered and our card gets locked, causing it to be declined. These purchases were so predictable that anyone armed with a copy of our past statement could have probably predicted them. Suspicious was definitely not the word I would use to describe them.
- Five months pass. Spring gives way to summer, summer gives way to fall.
- I am contacted by someone from the Executive Office of HSBC. He appears to be genuinely concerned. It has been five months since we have encountered any actual problems, but I’m happy to work with the if it means fewer troubles for other HSBC customers in the future. He forwards my case to someone in customer service. They leave an answering machine message to let us know they are on the case. Later, they call and ask to speak to me. Unfortunately, I am temporarily unable to answer the phone, and my wife is unable to focus on the phone call (busy with our toddler) and tells them to call back another time. Alas, there is not another call.
- Finally, on Friday, the card is declined again and we cancel the card.