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Thread: Can I avoid the HSBC World of Pain?

  1. #1
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Can I avoid the HSBC World of Pain?

    I have just completed a negotiation with HSBC regarding a payment I tried to make for a watch.
    It took me 120 minutes, just over 90 of which were spent on hold.
    Their Fraud Dept. sent me an SMS asking me to text "Yes" to a number contained within the SMS which was a chargeable number. I was reluctant so to do without verifying the source was genuine.
    I later received a SMS asking me to phone their Fraud Dept. on a number which showed as suspicious on whocalledme.com. To be fair there were also reports that the number was valid; a mixed review shall we say.
    Finally I obtained another number through my secure online banking app which I was confident was genuine, called and after only 18 minutes on hold finally got to speak to an operative who assured me that the payment had gone through. I await confirmation from the extremely patient vendor, who has been very understanding.

    So I ask the question, more in hope than expectation, "can anyone recommend a banking facility with fit-for-purpose customer service?"

  2. #2
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    I think it's a necessary inconvenience in the battle against fraud. I've made numerous larger payments for watches over the years with HSBC but only one got picked for checking by their internal dept (it was inconvenient as the telephone service staff didn't know so we were all wondering what was happening for a few hours).

  3. #3
    You've got off lightly!

    My payment for a GS from here was rejected by my bank, and so I had to spend a couple of hours on the phone trying to find out why and to verify who I was. That then triggered another security warning which could only be resolved by going into a branch in person (this is all during COVID). I spent the entire afternoon in branch, whilst the lovely branch assistant spent two hours on the phone with their own fraud department, convincing them that yes I was indeed who I said I was and that everything was OK. He was bounced around several different departments, as apparently it was now a combined online, telephone and in-person possible fraud! Now it only turned into that, because the only way to resolve the online issue was to telephone, and the only way to resolve the telephone issue was to go in person...

    I was very irritated by it all. But with hindsight, I'd rather that day's irritation than a fraudster getting away with several grand.

    In summary, if it's an 'urgent' payment (these are only watches after all), I'd go over the phone with the retailer, or use PayPal.
    Last edited by hughtrimble; 21st April 2021 at 14:34.

  4. #4
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Thanks DRD, I too have made and received many transactions without problem. I have banked with the for over 50 years (well, Midland at first) so would be very reluctant to change. However I can't live with a bank that pulls a payment without having a realistic way of being contacted. 90+ minutes on hold = uncontactable in my book. It's not as though I have nothing else to do but listen to God-awful jingle music for an hour and a half.

  5. #5
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hughtrimble View Post
    You've got off lightly!

    My payment for a GS from here was rejected by my bank, and so I had to spend a couple of hours on the phone trying to find out why and to verify who I was. That then triggered another security warning which could only be resolved by going into a branch in person (this is all during COVID). I spent the entire afternoon in branch, whilst the lovely branch assistant spent two hours on the phone with their own fraud department, convincing them that yes I was indeed who I said I was and that everything was OK.

    I was very irritated by it all. But with hindsight, I'd rather that day's irritation than a fraudster getting away with several grand.
    Point taken. I am not irate about the transaction being scrutinised, I am irate about them blocking payment, asking me to contact them, then realistically being uncontactable.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    Point taken. I am not irate about the transaction being scrutinised, I am irate about them blocking payment, asking me to contact them, then realistically being uncontactable.
    Oh absolutely, they are essentially uncontactable as even the bank clerk took over two hours on the phone with their own fraud department and was being bounced around and put back in queues. It was a phenomenal waste of their time.

    I'd resort to phone payment in future, or PayPal if they take it.

  7. #7
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hughtrimble View Post
    I think I'd resort to phone payment in future, or PayPal if they take it.
    Interesting. Not considered that.
    Is phone payment more reliable than via my banking app?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    Interesting. Not considered that.
    Is phone payment more reliable than via my banking app?
    That, I don't know. But it would be what I'd try given the failings of the app I've experienced.

    You'd think the app would be the most reliable given all the security features built into it compared to a telephone card payment, but I've never once had any phone or even website card payments rejected (perhaps that's a bad thing from a security perspective!).

    I do understand that the banks are in a difficult position with all this - like with any security, there's a very fine balance between ease of use and security, and I do understand their preference for weighting more towards the security end.

  9. #9
    Master Thom4711's Avatar
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    I don't think you need to change Bank necessarily. Now you know the text message is legitimate the next time you get one just reply "yes" and it'll be cleared immediately. I've only ever had one and it went through immediately afterwards.

    Fraud and financial crime departments at banks are typically reassuringly busy I find!

    For customer service/ experience, the surveys indicate that the best high street banks tend to be the likes of Nationwide, Metro and Santander. Having said that, I've banked with NatWest and Barclays and both have been fine and many will say online banks like first direct are the way to go.

  10. #10
    Craftsman enndriz's Avatar
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    Can I avoid the HSBC World of Pain?

    Canít recommend First Direct highly enough. I realise they are part of hsbc group, but seem to be worlds apart in terms of customer service. Whenever I have had to ring i get straight through to an actual person, no automated nonsense, no sitting in a queue for hours. They have been spot on with me, any issue has been sorted within about 5-10mins. Do yourself a favour and get yourself a new bank


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    Last edited by enndriz; 21st April 2021 at 15:00.

  11. #11
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    Just sold a car to a chap whose payment was referred to fraud services when he made it. We sat in a car park with him on hold for 1hr 40 mins before their Fraud Dept answered. He was with Lloyds. So it is not just HSBC.

  12. #12
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by enndriz View Post
    Canít recommend First Direct highly enough. I realise they are part of hsbc group, but seem to be worlds apart in terms of customer service. Whenever I have had to ring i get straight through to an actual person, no automated nonsense, no sitting in a queue for hours. They have been spot on with me, any issue has been sorted within about 5-10mins. Do yourself a favour and get yourself a new bank
    I think (but that maybe wishful thinking) that those internet banks are more geared to solve those issues than traditional banks, for whom the app is an add-on that cannot bypass their traditional systems.
    I bank with several but my favourite is Starling, and every interaction I have with them is extremely quick. They simply would not exist if their customers had to spend time on hold over the phone for a transaction.
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  13. #13
    Craftsman enndriz's Avatar
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    Can I avoid the HSBC World of Pain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    I think (but that maybe wishful thinking) that those internet banks are more geared to solve those issues than traditional banks, for whom the app is an add-on that cannot bypass their traditional systems.
    I bank with several but my favourite is Starling, and every interaction I have with them is extremely quick. They simply would not exist if their customers had to spend time on hold over the phone for a transaction.
    You could well be right. The first time I had to ring First Direct I couldnít believe it. After about 3 rings it was picked up by a human - thought Iíd mis dialled and got through to some poor sods home number! Has been pretty much the same every time since so obviously no fluke


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    Last edited by enndriz; 21st April 2021 at 16:05.

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    Grand Master Dave+63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    It's not as though I have nothing else to do but listen to God-awful jingle music for an hour and a half.
    I think youíre exaggerating a little here; Iím sure that plenty of that time was spent listening to how busy their staff were serving other customers and that your call is important to them!

  15. #15
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave+63 View Post
    I think you’re exaggerating a little here; I’m sure that plenty of that time was spent listening to how busy their staff were serving other customers and that your call is important to them!
    Fair point. I was at one stage given the message that they were unusually busty because so many of their branches have been closed! And another gem (in answer to a complaint that I have raised) that my complaint is being taken very seriously and will be replied to within the next eight weeks!
    Last edited by unclealec; 21st April 2021 at 16:48.

  16. #16
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    I was at one stage given the message that they were unusually busty...
    Unusual message. Not sure what bearing that has.

  17. #17
    Master alfat33's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    Unusual message. Not sure what bearing that has.
    Leave him alone. He just needed to get it off his chest.

  18. #18
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    Unusual message. Not sure what bearing that has.
    You have solved a mystery for me.
    Why is normally-so-placid me boiling my piss about this?

    The ire is a throwback to my sadness when the local Midland branch closed, thereby depriving me from contact with the lovely Hazel, who could have spawned the saying "dead heat in a Zeppelin race".

  19. #19
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    Long term First Direct user here, very happy with their service. Also have a Starling account that I opened mainly to get their business account and theyíve proved excellent too. Both highly recommended.

  20. #20
    Grand Master wileeeeeey's Avatar
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    Can't beat first direct. In a few months I'll probably move back to them, shouldn't have left in the first place.

  21. #21
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    I switched current account bank from one of the major high street banks to Monzo and couldn't be happier. Every time I've had to make a large payment or do something unusual that has required customer service, I type the issue through text chat and I've had an immediate resolution each time. Couple that with transactions showing instantly in my account, fee-free cash abroad, generation of virtual debit cards to retain control over subscriptions and auto-renewal payments and an app which does pretty much everything you could want, I don't think I'd ever switch. Also been very easy to transit large balances of cash through the account for a house deposit - all cleared by a quick text chat with an agent.

    I think people disregard the likes of Monzo and Starling as risky but with FSC protection there is no risk when using it as a current account. They provide exactly what you need - total control over payments using the latest tech. Something that the major banks lag behind with.

  22. #22
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post
    Leave him alone. He just needed to get it off his chest.
    You're right. He made a couple of good points.

    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    The ire is a throwback to my sadness when the local Midland branch closed, thereby depriving me from contact with the lovely Hazel.
    I do miss F2F contact as well.

    To be serious for a sec, hopefully things will improve a bit after Covid passes somewhat. I know a few call centres are currently understaffed but 90 mins is far too long. I would hope the inbound telephony message might offer you an alternative contact method after a few minutes.

  23. #23
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    Yes its getting harder to spend your own money on your own self for selfish treats, maybe for gifts too, i dont know, try to buy a house and the solicitor will make you feel like a genuine robber of old ladies and how very dare you be the son of satan with your money accruing tendencies, then rate tart it round for a pitiful increase in any kind of return on your ill gotten gains:I generally try to split payments with my wife to keep the sums down. Santander are pretty good on the whole.

  24. #24
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    Another vote for first direct every time Iíve had to deal with them very short waiting time and extremely helpful

  25. #25
    Iíve had similar with HSBC and despite calling in advance to confirm the payment amount, time, location, retailer etc, they still declined the payment. Luckily I was not on hold for long but made the banker wait on the line whilst the payment was made again.

    I would say the worst however is Tesco. Not only did they decline payment despite prior notice, they stated their systems flagged the transaction as fraudulent. Yes I am really going to commit fraud in an AD, watched by security cameras, watched by staff, double security doors and a burly doorman.

  26. #26
    Master Templogin's Avatar
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    I had a call from the bank many years ago. The man had a slow droning voice and what sounded like a bloodhound barking in the background. I think that it may have been the Freud Department.

  27. #27
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    Wasted over 3 hours to HSBC last weekend as they stopped a payment and locked my online access (despite me calling and clearing it the day before in advance after the initial failure)

    Being out in the Falklands at the mo I had to use Skype. After one hour of being redirected and put on hold various time my credit ran out just when I was put through to the Fraud department!!!

    A quick top up and another 2 hours plus of calls (mainly on hold) ensued and the line cut out twice and I had to start all over again!! Finally the forth time I had success and payment for my new Sub finally went through to a fellow TZer who probably thought by this stage I was making excuses since he had already sent the watch in advance!!!

    It was frustrating as hell as of course you had to explain the situation to a different person all over again and then redirected to the Fraud dept to speak once again from scratch all over!!

    I guess scams are at a all time high!!!

    One thing is for sure - the quoted 20 min wait time HSBC mention is not very accurate!!!!!

    At least now my security details are embedded in my head!
    Last edited by kultschar; 21st April 2021 at 20:17.

  28. #28
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    First direct have also gone from hero to zero.

    It used to be a quick call and send funds etc. within minutes usually.

    The ast 3 times its ended in a argument after they ask me question after question which I had allready answered.

    In the end in the middle of lockdown,I had to write a cheque drive to the coventry pay the money in so I could then send the money on.

    I was very unhappy doing that but was obliged to do it.

    Coventry confirmed they are making things ridiculousy difficult.

  29. #29
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    First Direct are brilliant, prompt and effective. I use my account to link to paypal rather than expose my main current account via online transactions.

    HSBC on the other hand are dire, I opened accounts with both and M&S last time they had good switch offers and savings rates, couldn't wait to kill off the HSBC and M&S, hard to believe they are part of the same group as First Direct

  30. #30
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    Been with First Direct since they started in 1989 - never, ever had a problem.

    Service is top notch.

    Also have Monzo current account for when I am travelling - they are also very, very good.
    When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks long into you.........

  31. #31
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    Had same issues with Lloyds. When I tried to invest a sizeable amount they stopped payment and shut down account until I contacted their fraud team. Similar story. I spent 3 hours getting through and resolved problem in 5 minutes. I understand that banks are worried by fraud as they seem to have to foot the bill ( unfairly IMHO) but, if they institute these processes then thet should put in staff to deal with calls more quickly.

    Mind you, I'm of the opinion that companies should be made to answer all calls within a couple of minutes.

    Anyway, I put in formal complaint and got £75 commpensation the next day.

  32. #32
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    Worth bearing in mind, a lot of bank call centre staff have been working from home.
    When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks long into you.........

  33. #33
    Another vote for First Direct here.

    I opened an account with them pretty much when they started up and Iíve never had an issue in all that time that couldnít be sorted out relatively quickly on the phone.

    By far the best customer service of any organisation Iíve ever dealt with. Their call centres are in the UK and are staffed by real people one can have a chat to while theyíre doing their banking stuff - rather than Ďcomputer says noí automatons.

  34. #34
    Master mr noble's Avatar
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    I was given a tip by a telephone bank clerk at my Natiinwide bank when I had a similar issue recently.

    He said if you need to make a big payment to a new recipient who I know 100% is not a scam.....initially set up the new payer in the app and send a smaller amount, like £50.

    That’ll go through fine and you can also verify it’s arrived with the recipient for additional peace of mind.
    Then, after an hour or two, send the rest, which then does not go through the same checking channels as the account is already in your list of previous recipients.






    On another note - I banked with HSBC for 25 years from the Midland days, but left them about 7 years ago due to many similar silly issues. I reluctantly took out a mortgage with them 2 years ago and find their level of security checks to be so far over the top, it is hugely infuriating. They have an app that I’m supposed to be able to log into to see my mortgage account but I have never managed to log in despite twice calling for assistance in the matter. It’s bonkers just how many secure words, memorable places, maiden names and pins I need, just to log into a mortgage account app. I gave up and just rely on the 6 monthly paper statement. I think it’d be harder to hack the Pentagon than HSBC. Not really necessary on a totally separate mortgage account. What’s the worst a fraudster could do? Pay it off for me??

  35. #35
    Master Maysie's Avatar
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    Just switch to First Direct, you wont regret it.

    Your problems will then be sorted and I think they pay you £150 to move over to them at the moment too.

    I switched to them several years ago and their service is fantastic.

  36. #36
    Grand Master wileeeeeey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr noble View Post
    I was given a tip by a telephone bank clerk at my Natiinwide bank when I had a similar issue recently.

    He said if you need to make a big payment to a new recipient who I know 100% is not a scam.....initially set up the new payer in the app and send a smaller amount, like £50.

    That’ll go through fine and you can also verify it’s arrived with the recipient for additional peace of mind.
    Then, after an hour or two, send the rest, which then does not go through the same checking channels as the account is already in your list of previous recipients.






    On another note - I banked with HSBC for 25 years from the Midland days, but left them about 7 years ago due to many similar silly issues. I reluctantly took out a mortgage with them 2 years ago and find their level of security checks to be so far over the top, it is hugely infuriating. They have an app that I’m supposed to be able to log into to see my mortgage account but I have never managed to log in despite twice calling for assistance in the matter. It’s bonkers just how many secure words, memorable places, maiden names and pins I need, just to log into a mortgage account app. I gave up and just rely on the 6 monthly paper statement. I think it’d be harder to hack the Pentagon than HSBC. Not really necessary on a totally separate mortgage account. What’s the worst a fraudster could do? Pay it off for me??
    The nationwide clerk gave you terrible advice. That is exactly how fraudsters empty accounts and a good way to set off every fraud alarm the bank has.

    My wife did this thinking she was smart when we were buying a car two years ago and it blocked everything (even out cards) and had to go through every fraud check they had. The woman who was selling us the car was raging. I can't tell you how mad she was - we were there 6 hours waiting for the money to clear. First Direct wouldn't even let us cancel the transfer so we could send the money again from a different bank. Never again.

  37. #37
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    I have been with First Direct for 30 years, the service is pretty good but itís still possible to slip into the occasional annoying rabbit hole.

  38. #38
    Master mr noble's Avatar
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    Well Iíve done it on the last two transactions, one for a watch and one to pay a tradesman, and itís worked fine both times with no alarms.

    Maybe since the introduction of have the account name checked, things work better??

  39. #39
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Thanks guys; all food for thought.

    I am sitting tight for now, while I wait for some response from HSBC, but because my problem is with inaccessibility, I am contemplating a switch to First Direct. Seems a shame after 50+ years with Midland, but I do think that sometimes my loyalties are misplaced.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    Thanks guys; all food for thought.

    I am sitting tight for now, while I wait for some response from HSBC, but because my problem is with inaccessibility, I am contemplating a switch to First Direct. Seems a shame after 50+ years with Midland, but I do think that sometimes my loyalties are misplaced.
    Sadly your loyalty to them (or any other bank for that matter) will probably never be rewarded. so if they are not helping you itís time to vote with your feet - so easy to do these days with account switching service.

    I think the more established banks in particular still rely on you sticking around because you think itís too much hassle to move.


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  41. #41
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    Never understood this loyalty thing? Is it misplaced, born of a nostalgia for when you might have known your local bank manager? I find it odd why people tend to stick with the same bank for life even when they have identified poor service or better options elsewhere, especially when the switch service is so easy.

    It's a bit like the people I bought my house from. I had to ask who their energy supplier was. They replied "we've been with British Gas since we moved in 25 years ago obviously...they supply the best electricity and gas!".....you what?!

    FWIW, I find it best to run two accounts...my joint account is a reward account (Nationwide Flex) to provide my wife and I the insurance and breakdown cover. I have heard Halifax also offer a good package and co-op is good for older people looking for travel insurance benefits. I then use Monzo as my current account as it gives me complete control of everyday stuff through the app. Starling is equally as good.

  42. #42
    Grand Master wileeeeeey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr noble View Post
    Well Iíve done it on the last two transactions, one for a watch and one to pay a tradesman, and itís worked fine both times with no alarms.

    Maybe since the introduction of have the account name checked, things work better??
    Good point, probably true. HSBC wouldn't let me send deposit monies to our solicitor yesterday because I told the advisor "and" instead of "&" as part of the company name. Their system wouldn't allow a penny until that part was corrected. it didn't tell the advisor what the issue with the name was, just that it was a 97% match and needed to be 100%.

  43. #43
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    Thanks guys; all food for thought.

    I am sitting tight for now, while I wait for some response from HSBC, but because my problem is with inaccessibility, I am contemplating a switch to First Direct. Seems a shame after 50+ years with Midland, but I do think that sometimes my loyalties are misplaced.
    There is nothing wrong with having several accounts mate. Don't switch blind: open an account with one of those internet banks (FD, Starling, Monzo, etc.) and see how it works for you. If it does work you can start carrying your business over, without the immediate need to close your HSBC account.
    Once you are convinced it does what you want it to do, and you can contact them when you need them, then you can say good bye to your old bank if you want.

    I personally have my mortgage with Lloyds; my first account in this country was with Midland, but they were a bit of a pain with the access they would give me (there were cheque guarantee cards at the time, and they wouldn't even give me a £100 one as I hadn't been in the country long enough [I was a director in a pan European company that we had just moved to the UK]) so within 2 months I switched to Lloyds. I had Santander too when they were offering interest rates with their 123 accounts, but left when they stopped, and opened a Nationwide one because I liked the account I could open for my daughter. But Starling is really convenient on a day to day basic use.
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  44. #44
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    Although I've got Monzo, I also have Starling - they are really good for paying cheques in and you can have a euro account. Paying a cheque involves just taking a photo and uploading it.

  45. #45
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian View Post
    Never understood this loyalty thing? Is it misplaced, born of a nostalgia for when you might have known your local bank manager?
    You have hit the nail on the head. My local Midland branch (RIP), as well as providing me with glimpses of the legendary Zeppelin Tits, was managed by a guy with whom I used to man a bar at the Bury Beer Festival. He took a hands-on interest in my business and personal accounts, and in fact tweaked things so that I could use my personal fee-less account to conduct my business. But it closed, we lost touch, now I am dealing with I know not who. I later read that he was kicked to death by a horse, hopefully nothing to do with Lloyds.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    You have hit the nail on the head. My local Midland branch (RIP), as well as providing me with glimpses of the legendary Zeppelin Tits, was managed by a guy with whom I used to man a bar at the Bury Beer Festival. He took a hands-on interest in my business and personal accounts, and in fact tweaked things so that I could use my personal fee-less account to conduct my business. But it closed, we lost touch, now I am dealing with I know not who. I later read that he was kicked to death by a horse, hopefully nothing to do with Lloyds.

    Yes, I remember when bank bank branches were the more impressive buildings occupying the corner plot of the high street before they all became wine bars and pizzerias! Unfortunately we are all just customer numbers and credit ratings now.

  47. #47
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    My exasperation level has just turned up to 11.
    I logged on to double-check that the payment had been made - or more to the point I tried to log on.

    YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN SUSPENDED. PLEASE CONTACT OUR CUSTOMER SERVICES FOR ADVICE.

    I aplogise, I realise this is turning into a diatribe from me with you lot being carpet-bombed with my frustrations. I think that I will follow your advice and dump HSBC. I hope it doesn't adversely affect global finance.
    Last edited by unclealec; 22nd April 2021 at 11:56.

  48. #48
    Grand Master wileeeeeey's Avatar
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    Weirdly first direct is part of HSBC yet dealing with the two couldn't be more different.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    My exasperation level has just turned up tp 11.
    I logged on to double-check that the payment had been made - or more to the point I tried to log on.

    YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN SUSPENDED. PLEASE CONTACT OUR CUSTOMER SERVICES FOR ADVICE.

    I aplogise, I realise this is turning into a diatribe from me with you lot being carpet-bombed with my frustrations. I think that I will follow your advice and dump HSBC. I hope it doesn't adversely affect global finance.
    Yup happened to me twice last weekend purchasing a sub.

    I was surprised the second time it happened as I was assured the payment would go thru after explaining it was legit

  50. #50
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    I am sure that Planet TZ is agog with anticipation waiting for the next instalment.
    An HSBC operative name of Ken in the Phillipines has assured me that my account has been unblocked, the payment authorised, and promised that it should arrive with the payee within two hours.

    I wondr how big the letterbox is at HSBC UK HQ? Think it would fit a discharge hose from a bowser?

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