Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A Bunch of Bankers

STREET, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 03: The HSBC lo...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

My bank has a new toy. It’s an automated calling system that puts a call in to me if one of our three joint accounts we hold becomes overdrawn. I get a call that then places me on hold until someone at the call centre becomes free and picks up the line.

So I, the ‘customer’, am made to hang around like a jerk on the end of a line until they can find the time to talk to me?

Is this what they call customer service?

And then I get dopey the call centre clot telling me that my account is Dhs50 overdrawn and asking when can I ‘normalise the situation’. Needless to say, I point out to the clot on the line, the other two accounts are significantly in funds, which you’d have seen if you cared enough about your ‘Status’ customers to give even a cursory glance at the account status before putting calls in to them on a Friday morning about insignificant overdrafts.

Taking that quick look at the account status before placing the call would have taken a great deal less of the bank’s time and effort than the FIVE calls I got from them on Friday regarding the same issue. It would also have avoided a lot of unpleasantness for their call centre staff. One of them, deliciously, called after I had authorised a transfer from another account to restore the balance of the account that was causing so much apparent heartache. ‘Oh, you see the system doesn’t update properly’ she told me just before I let her have it.

I did tell her it wasn’t personal and I didn’t see why she had to apologise to me – it was the bank’s issue and I wanted her to escalate my complaint. She hasn’t, of course, but I have.

The world’s local bank? HSBC? The biggest bunch of numpties I have ever dealt with, they continue to blight my life with every single contact I have with them. The only thing you can rely on is their constant failure to provide even the most basic level of service and banking facilities without embroiling their customer in needless heartache, anger and frustration.

Why don’t I move? Because last year I finally snapped and went to Lloyds only to find they couldn’t even open an account without screwing it up. As so many people have told me – they’re each one worse than the other.

No wonder the useless bastards all needed bailed out...
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Catalin said...

Oooh you just hit the spot with me for this week. I've been trying to open an offshore account for the last 2 months with Lloyds (of which I'm a client for more than 3 years now). I have been invited into the Jumeirah branch to meet with my "Personal Account Manager". I thought... hey that's great. I've got my own account manager. I meet with her, explain the fact that I want to open the offshore account, she writes all the forms and I'm asked to come back the next couple of days with a salary letter and a copy of the passport. Great! That's easy enough.

Two days later I try calling the same women and I am told she will call me back since she is in a meeting. Of course she did not call back and after 1 week of constant calls from my side I am told by a customer service operator that the woman has moved to the Mirdiff branch and she is not my "Personal Account Manager". Of course she did not think of giving all my papers to somebody else who could follow up! I had to go again and fill everything once more!

HSBC, Lloyds... all the same.

Grumpy Goat said...

"HSBC: Possibly the least sh!te bank in the UAE"

Talk about being damned by faint praise.

Keef said...

How I miss them...

The Beansprout said...

It's sad to see someone else having so much trouble with the truely awful HSBC - and yet it's also nice to realise that it's not just me.

Hopelessly Stupid and B*****ks to the Customer is my favourite way of referring to them.

It's not only that the branches of global banks are so bad, it's that they do so much better elsewhere -and yet just don't seem to care.

ghoonk said...

Alex, I cannot agree with you more. Unfortunately, as international banks (i.e. banks with international offices) go, it's either than or Standard Chartered, and their customers have encouraged me to stick with HSBC.

This has me wondering if these are really the banks themselves, or is this the love-child of a JV between the banks and some local entities

@catalin -- ever wondered about customer confidentiality if your file gets passed around faster than a bad dollar bill?

moryarti said...

I hate HSBC call centre - their only answer to virtually ANYTHING is "CHECK WITH BRACH" And its not like they are all over the place. The booths you see in spinney’s or malls are just marketing/sales shops and chairs at those booths are more useful than the STAFF sitting on them. They can’t do anything but smile and say ….. er… “CHECK WITH BRACH"

Few days ago, I only needed to send them a copy of my new VISA page on the passport. They said that I can send it by post office. I asked if I can email/fax it to my status account manager instead. The dweeb at the call centre couldn't (wouldn't) give me his details. Something to do with employee security protection.

After calling several times and finally finding out who is handling my status account this month – (since they change him/her almost every 2 to 3 months – with out even notifying me), then getting his phone number, then waiting for him to call me back … I finally managed to send that bloody fax.

After almost 9 years dealing with HSBC, I decided that next month will be my last with them.

I made it a point to have nothing to do with HSBC but my checking acount. No credit cards, no car or personal loans, no outstanding what so ever.

Oh, I am so gonna enjoy telling them to STICK THEIR STATUS CARD DOWN THEIR FINANCIAL PIE HOLE….

Media Junkie said...

emirates bank has been relatively good to me aside from a few minor hiccups. perhaps a change to an actual local bank?

Alexander said...

Catalin, if it's any help I opened an offshore account with Lloyds' 'Overseas Club' in Jumeirah and they were great - and the Isle Of Man account is stunningly well run, great call centre, gives me everything I need for onshore banking too and have at all times been faultless. Great Internet banking, helpful, flexible staff, secure and sensible security procedures and transferring our (relatively complex) onshore banking arrangements to them was handled brilliantly.

Which is why we then went to Lloyds Dubai and, I suppose, why we were so bitterly disappointed by them.

> Everyone: So there's no alternative, is there? *sob*

Anonymous said...

Lloyds are just as bad here. I'm constantly having to write to them to ask why they took a payment 8 days earlier than I'd asked from my online banking, or why I had been charged for my rent loan over 12 months when I'd signed for paying it over 6 months.

Luckily for them - the offshore account I opened in the Isle of Man is fantastic. So they get the benefit of me staying with them because its easier than leaving.

rosh said...

"A Bunch of Wankers" ya say? Look at the bright side Alex, ya don't have to deal with the Queens & Brooklyn "inspired" customer service accents or language!


Mita said...

Alex - you should try Standard Chartered - my calls were for 10 Dhs and they said I had to go to a specific branch to deposit this and they could not possibly transfer it from one account to the other. How's that for service.

I remember when I first arrived - don't ask me why - but I banked with National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (now RAK Bank) and they did not have any bells and whistles then but the best bl**dy customer service in the world. I was a bit poor then (we are talking close to 19 years ago) and they would hold my check till I deposited whatever the shortfall was - even if it was as little as 10 dhs.

Wonder whether that's gone to pot now that they are a posh bank?

David A. Allan said...

Oh-so familiar - they are completely and utterly inept; every time they c*ck up my credit card account (= almost every month) it then becomes a never-ending wild goose chase of 'phone calls to their totally incompetent/clueless call centre and visits to their 'customer service (sic) unit' would also seem they keep NO records of any of my calls/visits/complaints, and every interaction requires me to start the whole (latest) saga from the very beginning...*sigh*

HE said...

Many years ago, I was a Call Centre employee for a bank somewhere in the Gulf. This has helped me in my current life as I had the privilege of finding out the tricks of the trade. We were literally told just how to solve a problem that is unsolvable. Three answers. “Check with your branch”, “It’s not within policy”, “The system is down”. The best is when we got to use all three in the same sentence.

After a two minute conversation trying to fix a problem;

US: ok, I just checked, you will need to “check with your branch”
CLIENT: but can’t you fix it over the phone
US: “It’s not within policy”

After a 10 minute heated argument;

US: Sir, I’m sorry, “the system is down” I can’t fix the problem. You need to “check with your branch”
US: Sir, you can visit the airport branch, they’re opened 24 hours
US: Sir, that’s ok, their system is working, and they can fix the problem

And so on,,,

After a two year stint at the Call Centre I decided to call it quits and move to a branch for the real action. I was more sympathetic there as it was a face to face experience;

One of my first experiences at the branch;

After talking to a client with a deactivated credit card and in urgent need for it;

ME: I can’t activate this, the “system” won’t allow me
CLIENT: Can you please speak to the branch manager and see if we can fix this?
ME: Sure

Ofcourse I see the assistant manager because the branch manager has bigger swindles to attend to;

ME: We have a serious problem here
ME: This card is activated because… (insert banking terminology here), we have to try to assist this guy
ASSISTANT MNG: But we can’t do anything because… (insert same as above)
ME: Ok, what do we do
ASSISTANT MNG: ok look, we’re closing in ten minutes. Tell him to call the Call Centre and they’ll be able to activate it.


Now I just tell Call Centers the branch asked me to call and I tell branch employees the Call Centre referred me here, with a bit of kicking and screaming, things turn out alright.

The only thing that still gets me and I haven’t found a solution to is the “The system is down”.

She said...

My My! Alex , I thoroughly sympathise with you! Although , having read the above post , I need to express my slight dismay at the fact that HE has sat and watched me rant on the phone to customer call centres over the past month on more than one occasion! It's funny how he chose to impart his inside knowledge on the situation to YOU and not me!
Seems that he WAS smirking the whole time , and not fishing food out of his teeth as I originally thought!

Rose in Dubai said...

Isn't it a "wunch"?

i*maginate said...

LOL 00:48 !!! @SYSTEM DOWN@


i have just posted about this on my blog allbeit you have to draw your own conclusions about why the system is actually down - i better leave that to a socio-economic expert ;-) hahahahahaha

nothing to promote but it's just about nearly everything is down at the moment apart from, well, i won't say it. LOL!!!

I'm with a local bank, alexander, and never changed - same reason as you.

Besides, I try and keep things as simple as possible spesh given the standards you can expect as a consumer here.

I only have an ATM card and cheque books. Online banking? I'd rather depend on as less humans in a customer service role as possible!

I just went to the bank to 'manually' deposit cash into my account. Thursday at 12 and no queue. The teller says 'economy is down' - I whispered to him *shh you're not meant to say that* -- lol !!! Some people...!! hahah

hut said...

Which is the biggest b..anker of them all- that's a tough one. Personally though I am not too unhappy with Lloyds, especially the Isle of Man offshore account and both the onshore and offshore internet banking. Once you have set up a mandate (in person, on paper, at the branch), transfers are easypeasy.

Best service I ever enjoyed was with 'Bank of Sharjah', years ago. A friend who knew the boss introduced me and after that I'd just walk into the office of one of the busty Lebanese manageresses and we'd have tea and a good chinwag.

Once married I had to change banks...

Anonymous said...

Well said McNabb. I'm pretty mild mannered...that is until I get on the phone with HSBC. I can't begin to count the number of times I've lost my cool with their 'customer care'.
I moved to RBS a few months ago and found they were actually quite good. They charge you obscene amounts for bank statements (100 dhs per month!) but at least you can make sense of their statements (unlike HSBC, which I suspect is designed to confuse) and their credit card people actually call to verify large transactions.

Mr Hobnob said...

Hee hee. And there was me thinking it was just Mrs Hobnob that curls up in embarrassment whenever I have one of my monthly rants at the poor "call centre" bint at the World's Local Bank.

It's not her fault, really it isn't. In the main I have found the call centre chaps and chapesses at HSBC pretty good considering all the crap they have to put up with.

The latest cause of my ire has been the complete inability of the bank to provide Mrs Hobnob with a replacement ATM for FOUR months.... despite the account being pretty healthy.

Banks in the UAE? Kaza, kaza. Same, same. Plus ca change, plus le meme chose.

Anonymous said...


to be fair, local national banks are, in my experience, superior to international ones.

Lloyds TSB here is not equipped to handle retail banking. The very few retail accounts they have are still being screwed by their incompetence. As for business, they also have very little to offer a business. I told them many times, to me, you are nothing but a box I put money in and take out. Most of the time I manage to open the box.. occasionally, the lock doesn't work. So, even at that, you suck.

HSBC's ultra-aggressive call centres are truly a disgrace. I had an account with them. Closed it as a result of a similar situation to yours.

One's first inclination is that local banks are not going to be as professional as the international ones. My conclusion? think again.

Graeme said...

Yes, just before I left the UAE, I spent two hours in HSBC closing my account. All documentation copied, all cards cut up, and confirmation in writing.

A month after leaving, my old company tells me that it won't give me the three months pay it owes because I hadn't closed my bank account down.

Which, it turns out, was 'true'. After clearing all my money out, HSBC decided to keep it open - and accruing charges.


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