Oh dear. We spoke too soon. Our HSBC customer in Indonesia who, having survived his first and last encounter with Olivia, HSBC’s online robot, writes again with bad news. You may recall that after much time and money spent on online frustrations and long distance calls, all in an endeavour to unfreeze his security code and transfer cash from his HSBC account to his Hong Kong accountant, he thought he had finally got a result after talking to an HSBC human being.
He was told to go to his nearest HSBC branch in Bandung, 64 kilometres away, and collect his new security device. ”Should have known that it wouldn't be as simple as picking it up and getting on with my life,” he writes today. He drove to Bandung – 128 kilometres round trip - to get the new device -and he then tried to set it up at home in front of the computer.
To activate the new one, you have to get the old device to generate a new security code. ”But, of course, the whole point of this exercise is that the old security device is broken!” he wails. ”I take back all I said about how it’s all Ok once you getting hold of a real person.”
Hurry up and wait
He endured 12 minutes of listening to HSBC music before anyone picked up. ”I explain my situation and she asks for a phone pin number. I don't have one - never needed one and don't want one.” ”Well, we can't activate your security device unless you fill in a form and get a phone pin,” he is told. ”We are now 17 minutes and 34 seconds into the call and my temperature is rising. I ask to speak to a supervisor – but all are too busy, apparently.”
Twenty minutes more waiting and he was still no further forward - after inputting his credit card and bank account numbers numerous times to try to get the phone pin, the system refused to recognise them. Then the young lady herself inputted my account details, but the system did not then allow me to confirm a new pin - and it cut me off, he says.
”Forty minutes of my life completely wasted - literally no progress at all!”
In desperation he did what worked before, he called the lost card line - who undertook to transfer him to the right place (they said) which then took 12 minutes to not answer. At which point the customer was losing the will to live. ”I went to lie down with a cold compress on my fevered brow.”
But, ever determined, he called again - and waited 14 minutes this time – and went through the same process. ”The young lady tells me that my problem is that I'm using Skype. Please call back using a normal mobile.” He explained to her this would be extremely expensive if he had to wait up to 15 minutes before the call was picked up and she said - politely - ”Tough, we're very busy and you'll just have to wait.”
He asked to speak to a supervisor and was told that he would get the same response.
”I guess I'll have to try again tomorrow - now at vast expense,” he sighs. I’ve almost forgotten what he was trying to do. Ah yes, transfer some of his own money from his Hong Kong HSBC account to his accountant.
By any means possible. And still no joy, so this column will once again contact the good folks at HSBC to see if there is any way customers can move their own money when overseas.
And for those of you trying to navigate the global UnionPay ATM card drama, I hear many of you have resorted to opening Standard Chartered accounts. Because they use UnionPay too – but still give customers the option of withdrawing cash from their regular bank accounts via Cirrus, which is widely available overseas.