Why I Hate HSBC (again)

October 19, 2009

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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.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patti
    Oct 19, 2009 @ 14:01:56

    It’s too bad you and your wife have had such a hassle with your credit card. Although Visa & MasterCard are accepted in more places than Discover Card, I’ve been a Discover Card member since 1979 and have never experienced any problems with it. For those looking for a quality credit card, I would highly recommend Discover Card. And, may I add, Discover Card has never had any security breaches as far as I know.

    As for HSBC, aren’t they one of the main banks that accepted the government bailout? No wonder they can’t get their act together. I would recommend you join a local credit union for your banking needs.


  2. Patti
    Oct 19, 2009 @ 16:53:14

    I wanted to correct an error in my post above. It was 1987 that I became a Discover Card member. 1979 was the year I bought my first car.


  3. kosmo
    Oct 20, 2009 @ 09:46:50

    We do bank locally for most of our needs. We simply chose the HSBC credit card in order to get the cashback rewards. We don’t do any other business with HSBC.

    In 1979, I was enjoying the last carefree year of my life. The burdens of kindergarten set in during the fall of 1980 🙂


  4. Lauren
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 23:18:47

    Found your blog through the hsbcreviews.com website. I’ve been banking with HSBC for almost 5 years now and I have a credit car through them. It has been the worst 5 years of my life. Example: Today, I tried to call the branch I opened my account with to talk to a manager about unbelievable fees. He said he was with a client and would call me back.

    That was almost 8 hours ago and still no phone call.

    And this wasn’t the first time this fee problem occurred.

    I just changed my direct deposit to Chase. Cya HSBC.


  5. Katryn
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 21:23:13

    WHO HATES HBSC AS MUCH AS I DO!!!!!!! Damn suckers!!!!! I HATE HSBC they just screwed me out of $39 late fee. I have paid 7 payments on my card this year sofar. So I pay them on 03/01/2010 ( one day early for March should have paid on 03/02) and they hit me for late charges as they say that was my billing date and the payment went towards the previous month and did not count towards the next months bill. So …sucker me for paying .. what I thought was way before the due date .. which was 03/24 What the hell!!!!! I have been a consitant customer, paying mostly twice a month and early. Damn suckers just lost me as a 5 year customer!!!!! I HATE HSBC …. I hope OBAMA kick their asses!!! I AM FUMING!!!!!!!


  6. Patti
    Feb 28, 2011 @ 22:29:52

    On a positive note, this was one of the few large US banks to not take any TARP money


  7. kosmo
    Feb 28, 2011 @ 23:17:18

    They may have been a large bank that didn’t take TARP money, but I wouldn’t call them a US bank. They are headquartered in the UK and have half their assets in Europe and just 1/4 in the US.


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