Apr 22, 2009
kosmo - See all 763 of my articles
We have a card with HSBC that gives us 1% cash back on all purchases and 2% back on weekend purchases. We’ve started charging a lot of things so that we get the cash back. Note: we have not changed our spending patterns because of the availability of credit on the card; we simply use the card for purchases they we need to make anyway (such as diapers for the young ‘un). We pay off the entire balance every month. A credit card should never be used as an excuse for reckless spending. On the face, it’s a pretty cool card. We’ve had quite a few negative experiences with the card, though.
Soon after getting the card, we started getting telemarketing calls. My wife is listed as the primary cardholder, so they would always ask for her. When I would ask what the purpose of the call was (my standard question to weed out telemarketers) they would refuse to tell me. The only wa y we knew that it was HSBC is that we kept track of the number, which we were later able to determine was HSBC, due to subsequent calls.
When my wife actually did answer the phone, she would ask for the purpose of the call, and the telemarketers would completely clam up and not tell her, either. This was really bizarre. I have encountered a lot of strange sales pitches over the years, but a sales call during which the caller doesn’t want to talk about the product or service they are selling is definitely a new trick. After talking to a manager and threatening to cancel the card if these calls did not stop, they calls eventually stopped. It’s almost as if these folks were in training and dealing with human beings for the first time.
HSBC had a security breach (widespread, not just us) and issued new cards with new numbers. My wife’s card looked great. My card, on the other hand, did not. My name was backwards (Public Q. John instead of John Q. Public). As someone with a background in IT, it amuses me that they managed to someone get one name right and the other name wrong – indicating that they do not have a particularly consistent process.
My wife called to get this problem fixed. She’s the primary cardholder, so she gets to have all the fun dealing with HSBC.
The person she talked to seem to struggle to understand the actual problem at first. This seems a bit odd, since my wife understood it fully in the three seconds I took to explain it to her (“hey, my name is backwards on the credit card”) – shouldn’t someone in the credit card industry be able to grasp this concept?
Finally, he agreed to send a new card, and then stated that he was going to activate the new cards and cancel the old ones. Thus began another frustrating exchange for my wife, who pointed out that he should not do this, since this would cause me to be without a card. The HSBC person said that I would be able to use the new card. It took my wife a long time to point out that I would not be able to use the new card, since the name on the card did not actually match my name. Sure, logically a merchant might decide that I am indeed the correct person, but they would be well within their rights to reject the card because the signature doesn’t match the name.
Can we sell you more stuff while we’re fixing our goof?
So I finally get the new card with the correct information and call to activate it. For some reason, I can’t use the automated method and get dumped to a human. (sigh). During the activation, she tries to sell me a credit protection product. I politely tell her I’m not interested and just want to activate the card.
As she is cancelling the old card, she tries once again to sell me this product, which causes me to get a bit upset with her and tell her that she is really not providing good customer service, and that she should just perform the service that I am actually asking for. &^%%^$%##$@()(*, I already told you once that I am not interested. I spend a lot of money with your card. Are you trying to alienate me on purpose? No means no.
Paranoid fraud alert
We’re at the mall this past weekend and hit Target and a few other stores. We use the card a total of five times before it starts getting denied. It turns out that they had flagged out account for suspicious activity.
Target was a fairly big charge, but not substantially larger than what we spend in typical trip. We always spend a fair amount at Target, because it is our main place to shop. We have a toddler, and Target is our main supplier of diapers, baby wipes, baby clothes, etc (which can really add up in a hurry).
The other four charges were pretty small charges (one was at Taco Bell). All of the stores are places where we have repeatedly used the card in the past. Additionally, the two locations where the card was denied were also places were we often shop. (Why did I try at a second store after being denied at the first store? I’m an optimist and assumed that Barnes and Noble had a problem with their card reader. Nope, the card reader is fine – the card was the problem.)
At this point, I’m really not sure what was so suspicious about the activity. The total dollar amount was well within our normal spending patterns, and all of the stores were places we had shopped before.
Needless to say, we’re looking for a new card. Has anyone had good expereinces? We’re looking for something with cash back, rather than airline miles or other “rewards”.
UPDATE: I have recently been contacted by someone from the HSBC executive office. He is interested in taking a look at this situation and determining why these issued occurred. I haven’t had a chance to respond to him yet. I do appreciate the fact that HSBC is looking at this as a learning opportunity. I will update this post with future developments.
SUBSEQUENT UPDATE: read the exciting conclusion to the saga.Share this article via email Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books. Like this site? Subscribe via RSS, Subscribe via Email, or Follow us on Twitter or Facebook. The permanent URL for this article is: