Consumer Bank News

Impersonal HSBC Doesn’t Want Customers to Call their Branch

September 3rd 2007


Edwin Black


A recent call responding to an exquisite HSBC bank brochure inviting new local customers revealed a startling and noisome policy. HSBC does not permit its customers to call their local branch with questions or to receive information. Phone numbers are not listed on the bank’s massive website and even the phone company won’t provide the number–they are unlisted. In order to reach their local bank branch, consumers must first call an offshore call center in the Philippines and then after evaluation, that offshore call center will decide whether consumers need to be connected. HSBC, which claims to be a global network of “local banks,” stands by its policy, insisting it is for the customer’s protection and to enhance customer service. One phone bank representative argued, “How can our tellers get anything done if they are answering the phone?” The HSBC phone bank representative went on to explain that all major banks refuse to divulge their branch phone numbers. Not so. Checking this extraordinary claim, The Cutting Edge checked public listings for Chase, BBT, Bank of America and other banks. All those banks list the complete address and phone numbers of all their local branches on their websites, and branch officers typically print their phone numbers on their business cards. These banks encourage direct communication between customers and their bank. BBT employs a network of “relationship bankers” for the sole purpose of personalized business. In other words, HSBC appears to be the only bank that solicits local customers for local business but will not allow them to actually call the bank with questions or to address problems. As such, HSBC has become the most impersonal bank in the world


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