Newest Review: ... an acceptable form of communication, but in this case, a letter was sent home. Maybe the HSBC thinks this justifies some of the charges??... more
Not the ex-Listening Bank
Member Name: spacelamb
Date: 09/04/01, updated on 09/04/01 (1449 review reads)
Advantages: customer service (all aspects of)
Disadvantages: they're a bank and they're all after your money really
Cast your mind back a few years to a time when orange satin shirts were a fashion staple, and HSBC was still known as The Midland Bank (complete with smart griffin emblem, whose departure I still mourn). Their advertising patter included the promise that they were ‘the listening bank’, and although they have now dropped the slogan, they haven’t gone back on their word.
HSBC’s customer service is second to none.
This is not praise which I administer lightly – they have genuinely proven in the three-and-a-half years that I have been with them that they are interested in their customers. I am not suggesting they do not have ulterior fiscal motives, but that is incidental in a world where customer service generally falls between ‘passable’ and ‘shocking’ on the rating scale.
When I started university for the first time in 1997 I opened my student account with HSBC. Previously I had held a current account with Halifax, whose student package offers very few advantages (something like a £100 overdraft facility and free tie pin – cheers). I chose HSBC for a number of reasons, not least their incentives (gimme a break, I was barely eighteen), which at the time were either £50 cash or a 4-year young person’s railcard. Being skint, I opted for the £50, and have been kicking myself ever since (although my friends mock this bizarre mannerism, and my shins are permanently bruised). But I was not only lured by the prospect of a free fifty quid. Honest.
A student account with HSBC offers you, in your first year, a £750 interest-free overdraft and two credit cards with a combined limit of £500. These amounts increase slightly in your subsequent years of study to £1000 and then £1250 for the overdraft, and you can apply for more credit on an individual basis, to a limit of £1500. This is a completely ill-advised course of action which of course I took, but the blessing is an extremel
y low rate of interest and minimum monthly payment.
When you have finished your course of study, HSBC switch your account to ‘graduate’ which kind of works in reverse to the student account. They slowly decrease your overdraft entitlement – by £500 per year – giving you ample time to clear your debt. And if you are in financial trouble for whatever reason, as long as you speak to someone about it, they are quite flexible about these guidelines.
Going back to my first point, the reason I have stayed with HSBC is that they are always willing to help – on the condition that you keep in touch with them. (This is not something they explain on their literature and although to many it might be common sense, I learnt the hard way). If you ignore a problem, it doesn’t go away. For example, if you exceed your agreed overdraft limit, the bank automatically charges you the seemingly random figure of £26. But if you ring them and explain that you are having a tight week, they will waiver this penalty. (I guess you can push them too far on this one, although I haven’t managed to yet, and my money-managing abilities are poor to say the least).
Service in the branches themselves is marvellous almost without exception. I don’t know how they manage this – firstly the job is tedium itself and secondly, bank workers in general tend to be the most sour-faced, difficult people you could hope to meet. Not so with HBSC. Every request I have made in a branch has been dealt with quickly, efficiently and with a smile. I can virtually guarantee now that I will go in tomorrow and be beaten with lacrosse sticks (well it’s an alternative to baseball bats) – but until today, they have been nothing but gracious and proficient.
I have recently registered with their online and telephone banking services too, both of which are excellent. Registration for both is very simple, and between them they canc
el out the need to ever visit a bank again - well, in theory, but frankly it is such a pleasure to visit my local branch that I call in even when I don’t have a valid reason. Um, that’s a lie. By the way.
Back to the griffin emblem again (or lack of), they have recently introduced a range of slightly bizarre-looking animal mascots, which do not *replace* Griffy (as if they could!) but begin to compensate. The Scarborough branch even let me have a free eagle badge. Yes, I am easily bought with gimmicks, but HSBC have the right attitude to back it up with too.