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I get pretty tired of people complaining about the services that their Bank offers them, without really trying to make the accounts that they chose to open work for them. I have been with HSBC for twenty years, and whilst not the perfect bank, it does cover my needs quite adequately, in that my bills are paid on a regular basis in an orderly manner, my statements arrive on time and are detailed enough to give me the information I need to know, and their Internet Banking service compares well against my other Banks, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays.
The problem stems from people not understanding how to use a bank account to their advantage, accepting that "this is the way it works", and then grumbling. HSBC offers me a lot of things that I don't like, need or desire. For example, I never asked them to give me an evaluation of my account on a regular basis showing graphs of how much I overspent, but they send it anyway. I never asked for increases in my credit card allowances, although they gave them to me anyway.
What I do ask for is personal service. It's my money. The bank should and does work for me, although only because that is the way I use it. For example, if I take a cash withdrawal from the account, here in France where I live and work, I am expected to pay the princely sum of 1.50 GBP for the privilege. I don't. I simply use the bank in a different way and avoid the pitfall. Money spent by using my current account card is not charged, and therefore doing my shopping with the card which takes money directly from my account, and is not a credit card, means that I cut down the expense and that the funds are available free of charge.
The call centres.
I hate call centres. I detest being on a line, pressing this button and that button, and giving out details of what my dog is called and the last letters of my mothers maiden name. It's rubbish, and a way of keeping the banks busy doing their thing, whilst filtering out customer enquiries. I don't do that. From the early days of being with the bank, I developed a rapport with the Bank staff at my Branch, determined the telephone number that takes me directly to a representative that knows me, my account, etc., and that is consciencious enough to be able to deal with my enquiries in minutes. It works.
I have had a deposit account with the Bank for many years, and interest rates fluctuate. They do at any bank and comparing with Bank of Scotland and Barclays, don't fluctuate any more than other banks. I have instant access to my savings, can transfer money online into my savings account and am satisfied with the service I get.
Transferring Money overseas.
Upon selling my house in the UK, I had to transfer the money made from the UK to France. It was a worrying time. The girl at the bank helped me through it, and made it all very simple. We sorted it all out in advance, and then waited for a good moment in the exchange rate. All it would take was a phone call, and that would be the chosen exchange rate day. By careful planning, I made 2000 pounds on the exchange rate, and this is my point. If a client uses their common sense to enhance their banking experience, it doesn't always mean paying out extra or losing.
I have a 3000 Pounds overdraft facility that I have seldom used. The reason is simple. Explaining the logic to my husband, the easiest way to explain is that going into overdraft without prior consent of the bank is like stealing money out of your mums purse and telling her later. He never understood why he had so many bank charges and grumbled at the amounts, and yet overdrew on a regular basis, not even being aware of what he had in the Bank. The idea of an arranged overdraft facility is that you agree with the bank in advance that you may wish to overdraw at some stage in the future. The charges are less for an arranged overdraft, and can often be negotiated. In my case, I was only charged once, and after discussion with the Bank, the charge was quashed.
Sending Money by post.
Often, as I live in another country, I send cheques to be paid into my account and ask for confirmation of their arrival. This costs me nothing, and gives me the instant reassurance that the money has gone where it was intended.
Everyone is aware that credit card interest rates are appalling and no matter which cards you have or what the promise made, at some time you will pay excessive interest. I have two cards with this bank, and use them sensibly, paying off the balance at the end of each month and avoiding interest. I have been tempted to try out new cards like Egg and ones that promise better than my existing cards, although having learned that sensible use costs nothing, stayed where I am with the devil I know.
Using the Bank to store papers.
For many years, my Will has been stored by my Bank for which they charge me nothing. It means that papers are kept in a safe place, and together with my Will, all the papers relating to Life Insurances are also stored free of charge.
I have known my Bank a long time. My personal assistant was about to leave and telephoned me to introduce me to the lady taking over from her. I am old fashioned. I demand courtesy and respect and get it, and although am not a super rich person or mega client, even little people get friendly and personal service if they ask for it, if they tailor the experience to suit themselves, rather than just waiting for the Bank to make the first move. On their own, they won't. They are an establishment that want to make money and do not have time to canvas personal service, preferring to leave those people that do not require it to be dealt with through customer service call centres.
Downsides : Charges for cash machine withdrawals are appalling. I do not use the cash machine. Call centres are appallingly wasteful in customers' time. Credit card charges on balances left outstanding as as appallingly high as they are elsewhere. Queues - although I don't do queues. My time is too valuable. If I have anything that requires me to be in the bank in person, I tend to make an appointment, though most things can be dealt with by telephone.
Upsides : I get the service I demand. If I didn't there are more banks out there waiting for my account and it isn't important enough to a bank to go out of their way to offer service to those that do not ask for it. Used as a friendly family bank, it works for me.
I suppose that there are banks out there that offer more financial reward, though my forty years of experience of Banks tells me that if they offer incentive in one direction, they take it away in another. Banks are much of a muchness, and tailoring your banking experience to your needs is important and with HSBC works better than with Barclays and Bank of Scotland.