In April last year, I was struggling to get my bank to care about a mortgage payment they had lost. All they had to do was to transfer it from my current account to my mortgage account with a different bank. They transferred it out okay, but sadly they didn't transfer it to the right place and didn't actually know where it had ended up at all. I wasn't sure how that was even possible in the digital era, so not surprisingly I was hopping mad and anxious to find my money. You'd think my bank would be anxious to find it to, right? Wrong. They couldn't have made it clearer that they didn't think it was anything other than my problem or that they had any kind of responsibility at all. I was actually told by my local branch manager that I wasn't actually able to complain about it. Needless to say, I did complain, long and loud and pointlessly. I waved the banking code at them, I waded through the endless circles of hell that is their call centre, where poor undertrained people on the other side of the world tried everything to politely make me go away, including at one point, putting me on hold on then bringing me back and pretending that I was now through to the complaints department.
In the end I found the money myself. They'd transferred it to another account I sometimes make payments to. I moved it out and made up my mind that the £20 compensation they eventually paid me wouldn't be enough to prevent me from moving my account.
Needless to say, although I opened another bank account with an ethical bank, I haven't yet been bothered to shift my current account. This, of course, is what they count on.... but I've got a long memory: I know that this is a bank that can't be trusted with anything and who ultimately don't give a monkeys about their customers or - ultimately - their customer's money.
Imagine my total lack of surprise, then, when I received a phonecall this afternoon from the "Premiere Account Advisor" at the local branch of my bank. The very same branch, you'll remember, where the manager told me to my face that I wasn't able to make a complaint. Now what on earth would make them want to suddenly call me up out of the blue a mere five working days after I paid in a cheque worth more than three year's salary? Oh, HSBC... your total predictability is almost awe-inspiring.
Was I aware of the Premiere Service the bank offered? No, but I was aware that HSBC have been doing everything they can to make me think I should pay for their lack of service, but I was not aware of any Premiere Service they offered. Oh, it's for our favourite customers with a shit pile of cash (I'm paraphrasing) in their accounts. We offer them all kinds of free services, including access to our "independent" financial advisor. Independent? Yes, she spends all her time in different HSBC branches. Right, I see. What are you planning to do with all that money? Remove it from your crappy bank as soon as possible and talk to a real financial advisor, as it happens. Undeterred by this news, or perhaps following her bank's noble tradition of not listening to what I had actually said, she pushed on. Can I give you my mobile phone number? Just in case you think things over and decide you want to talk to me.....
Unbelievable. Alright, it's my own fault for not pulling my finger out and moving my current account business sooner, but - like I said - I've got a long memory. Longer than them, anyway. They might not be able to remember losing my money eighteen months ago, but I do, and if these clowns think I'm leaving my money in their bank for any longer than necessary, then they've another thing coming. Honestly, it it wasn't for the fact that even their derisory rates of interest are preferable not cashing the cheque at all, the bloody thing would still be sitting on my bedside table now.
As always, Richie had it right:
"Economic forecast soothe our dereliction
Words of euthanasia, apathy of sick routine
Carried away with useless advertising dreams
Blinding children, life as autonotomes"
Death sanitized through credit indeed.