I would like to draw a line in the sand with HSBC who appear to have gotten too big for their boots in Malta/Gozo. I have been an HSBC customers since they took over Midland bank in the UK. HSBC (the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation) not the High Street Banking Corporation as many believe (strike 1 for misrepresentation) are I believe either in a complete state of turmoil here on the islands, which I can only put down to their constantly absent Directors or complete incompetence (I wouldn’t trust them with my grandsons piggy bank). Now being angry is not good for my ‘Karma’ and normally I’m a very happy chappy but I would like to relate what has been a saga spanning months, to try and give HSBC Malta my money, and is now making me angry and when the Crazy Brit gets angry, step aside.
Back in 2011, I was visiting the UK from my home in Dallas and popped into my local UK HSBC. Gill Jordan (who later became a LinkedIn connection with me) told me I should become a Premier customer. Now to some extent I have written something about this in my blog https://crazybritblog.wordpress.com/blog/ however since then the story has deteriorated beyond even what I imagined. Anyway to continue Gill said by being a Premier customer it would help manage my money (I don’t have a lot) in my UK and US accounts. So Gill signed me up and I became a Premier customer and boy was she right. I found the benefits of Premier not only saved me a lot of time and money but gave me benefits like holiday insurance cover for FREE. So for 5 years I’ve benefited from being a Premier Customer.
Now anyone would think that I was loaded (quite the reverse) it just so happens that I’d moved to the US to start a business but ended up working in Education with “at-risk” kids, and believe me in the good old USA there are more at-risk kids living on the street than some 3rd world countries. (You would be amazed). Anyway, as you will appreciate there isn’t much money working in education but I supplemented that with my private UK pension and lived quite comfortably. Circumstances arose were I had to return to the UK (my now ex divorced me and took all my money and then went off with her old boyfriend, after 10 years of marriage). At 65 it’s kinda hard hitting restart with just 2 suitcases and $5k in my pocket, but I did and decided I wanted to retire/live in Gozo. So I did my research I joined expat and gathered all of the valuable information on what not to do and what to do. One of the things that stuck out was people complaining how long it took to open a bank account with HSBC. So consequently I decided to start the process at home in the UK. Even the Premier Manager Charlotte was surprised at the amount of documentation Malta sent that needed completing, nevertheless we spent a couple of hours and 2 appointments going through the process.
However after 2-3 months Malta had still not opened an account for me. Now I wasn’t alone in being frustrated, my Premier Manager couldn’t understand the delay. So the day came when I moved to the island and still no bank account. I go to the branch in Victoria and get in the line of customers waiting to be seen. I was asked what I wanted, I explained that I was a Premier customer and needed to see a Premier Manager, What for? Now if ever I’d presented myself at any other branch as I had in Paris (when they supplied me with a notary for free, on a Saturday morning) and in the UK the red carpet was rolled out for Premier customers. BUT NOT HERE! I was expected to explain my private business in front of a long patient line of other customers waiting to be seen. So I challenged the woman “are you denying me access to a Premier Manager?” because if so I’d like to complain. All ears in the queue were pricked and nods and smiles from patient customers. Panic sicken the woman said go upstairs to the office on the left.
I was beginning to get the impression that HSBC Malta was being run as some sort of private fiefdom as the rules and attitude were a million miles away from any other country I’d experienced, so I went upstairs and sat down, took out my iPad logged on using the banks free WiFi (well at least the WiFi is free) and shot off a complaint to their international banking centre. Now bearing in mind I really don’t have bundles of money stashed away I needed an efficient way of managing what little I have. So when I sat down and was asked what I wanted by a passing member of staff, I explained, and the guy went into another glass fronted office, and I watched him explain to another guy what I was wanting. This guy stood up abruptly, came from behind his desk and approached me in a very off hand manner. You need to go to Malta to open an account, but why I said, he then starts remonstrating about not having time to deal with me.
This is not a good start to a happy banking relationship. As I said in my other blog why was I having to try to convince people to let me give them my money?
Now I’m not a big fan of banks anyway and have the outline for a book I will write one day called ‘The Bank of Atlantis’, which will explain why.
So as he was losing his cool with me (HIS CUSTOMER) I handed him my iPad and suggested he reads the email I’d just sent to his International Banking centre.
BIG change of attitude. How can he help me now? He invited me into his office and I explain how this saga has developed and he assures me it will be sorted. I tell him about my blogs and he reads the one called smiling at a later stage and says at one of several subsequent meetings that he found it quite funny. Well it was meant to be funny, even though it was quite irritating.
Now I love Gozo, I hope to end my days on the island, but I have a lot more living to do before I pop my clogs. So I find what I believe is a great business opportunity and need my bank account sorted immediately THE SAGA HAD NOW BEEN RUNNING OVER 4 MONTHS.
I have done everything I was asked, jumped through all of their hoops but still no bank account. So today HSBC after years of using you to hoard my life’s work I have to go to another bank to manage my money.
Shame on you HSBC Malta and shame on whoever the man at the top is. I suggest he gets off the golf course puts down his gin and tonic and sort this circus of a bank out before the Crazy Brit really gets on his hobby horse.
Peace and good Karma to all (even HSBC)