The story they begged me to write
Samuel Potter has been amazed at the number of people who have asked him to write a story about HSBC in the UAE.
March 13, 2011 3:51 by Samuel Potter
Another friend had to renew her UAE visa, and HSBC took it upon itself to freeze her account with no warning. To unfreeze it she was ordered to, you guessed it, attend the super-branch in Jebel Ali with her new visa. She now faces the inevitable time delay while she waits for the unfreeze. It wouldn’t be so bad, she told me, if they hadn’t done the exact same thing a few weeks back. She also told me about a time she transferred a large amount of money home, and HSBC ‘lost’ it for several days.
A quick troll around the forums can find numerous people who have bad things to say about HSBC. Here’s one, for instance, that I found in about four seconds. Friend of Kipp, Alex McNabb, is frequently reduced to temporary insanity by HSBC, as his many blogs demonstrate.
I can give you a few stories of my own. Like how I went to a branch to have a passport copy certified. The woman at the desk was ever so helpful, but she said that it had to be done – guess where? Yep, the super-branch. “You will have to demand they do it,” she said. “You will have to ask and ask. They will tell you they can’t do it, but they can.” Intrigued, I went to the main branch, and met with someone right away. He said he couldn’t do it, and the longest half hour of my life ensued. He said they used to do it, but a circular sent round last year instructed them not to certify anything that wasn’t an internal document. I said to him, so if a Premier customer strolled in here (they’re the high rollers with hundreds of thousands in the bank), and said “I need that signed,” you’d say no? He tried to convince me he would.
I battled, but in vain; he wouldn’t certify it. In the end I had to go to work, but I got nothing from them. What really got me was this – he had my details up on the system, and included with them was an electronic scan of my passport. I asked, could he print that out and certify it? No, of course he couldn’t.
That is by no means the only incident for me – we could talk about the credit card fiasco, the phone banking fiasco, or the home insurance fiasco – but I don’t want to drag this out.
If anyone from HSBC is reading this, I want you to know something: This is not a hatchet job. I have not set out to knock the bank down, and I dare say there are other banks in the country for which I could find similar tales if I looked. What I am doing is pointing out the incredible frequency with which I encounter someone with an HSBC UAE horror story, and the subsequent venom apparently felt towards them. I have names and contact details of all the people whose stories are mentioned in this piece, so I can’t be accused of lying or pursuing a vendetta. These are people who are genuinely upset and angry, that feel they have been failed, and worse, that feel that HSBC has failed to respond to their complaints with any degree of competence or decency. If someone from HSBC wants to respond, we always welcome that here – there’s always a right to reply.
Until then I’ll finish with the words of one guy I met this weekend, and a question. His words: “They are the worst bank in the world.” And my question: how can a bank, so respected globally, have such low standards locally? Or, to be more generous, have such a terrible reputation locally? Or am I, and all the people I have met, wrong?
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