Testing? Isn’t that what we have customers for?
November 27, 2010 Leave a comment
For the past two weeks I have been having some fun with my bank.
I have both a personal account and a business account with HSBC. Having enjoyed the benefits of text alerts on my personal account I decided to add text alerts to my business account. So I popped along to the website clicked on the ‘business text alerts’ link and proceeded to sign up. I was informed that by clicking the button I agreed to the terms and conditions of the service. So I opened up the T’s & C’s to review them.
it was clear to me almost immediately that they had attach the personal banking terms and conditions to the business banking service. The three key terms that looked wrong to me were these;
Customer (also you, your)
The personal customer who has accepted the Terms in accordance with Clause 1.2 above.
HSBC Plus, Graduate Plus and HSBC Premier Customers will receive the Service without charge by us.
Service fees will be deducted from your Personal Current account in arrears for each month or part of a month that you are registered to receive the Service.
I try to be fair in these situations, 1) because it’s the right thing to do and 2) because it’s much more fun later when you complain and explain that they could have sorted this a while ago if only they had listened and dealt with you properly at the time.
I called customer service and explained the problem. The voice on the other end assured me that there were only one set of terms and conditions for text banking. Having been told that these were the correct terms and conditions I signed up. However I made sure that I took screen dumps of all of the relevant T’s & C’s on the webpage, showing clearly that it was my business bank account that the text alerts applied to and that I was signing up for.
I gave customer service another call. This time I asked some very specific questions. I asked ‘if I was signing up as a personal customer as per the definitions or was my business signing up?’ He wasn’t really sure. I asked, ‘if, as I am a personal ‘plus’ customer, I would be charged for any text alerts on my business account?’ He told me I would be charged £2.50 a month as this was a business service. So I asked ‘if the £2.50 would be taken from my personal account or my business account?’ He told me my business account. A asked if the site had been tested before go live, he did not know.
I explained that I was a HSBC plus account holder, the T’s & C’s told me plus account holders wouldn’t be charged, but if I was charged the terms and conditions told me it would come out of my personal account. I explained that if HSBC took money out of my business account when the terms and conditions said it would come out of my personal account that would be wrong. At this point his response was “It’s only £2.50 Sir.” I explained that as his bank was worth £126 billion, clearly those £2.50 charges add up. I suggested that for my £2.50 a month, I would like the website to be tested first. I asked him if I could make a complaint and he told me I would have to speak to my business relationship manager.
Once upon a time I had a real business relationship manager, we would meet and chat, he knew my business and I trusted him. That was back when HSBC ‘the world’s local bank’ was still Midlands, my local bank. I had no idea who my current business relationship manager was, but was told it was ‘Scott’ who worked out of a Wales call centre. I was given a number and called it.
My business relationship manager was too busy to talk to me, but I was told that I could expect a call back later that day. Having received no communication from my business relationship manager I called again the following day, He had already left the office. I asked to speak to his manager.
I explained that I had signed up to the business text alerting and it looked like I’d got the personal text terms and conditions. I was treated like an idiot,
“Are you sure you’re on the business website?”, “Are you sure you’re reading them right. No one else is complaining”, “Do you want me to send you a copy in Post?”
I explained I am in the right location, I have ‘Janet and John book 3’ reading and no, I don’t want a copy in the post, I want you to tell me why you’ve got the wrong terms and conditions on the site, I want you to tell me whether you’re going to honour the terms and conditions we have agreed, I want to know if you are going to take money from my business account, even though I have not authorised you to do so. I wanted to know if they tested the web site or just released any old junk. I also want to know why I received no call back. I wanted to complain. She said she would look in to it. I offered to send her my screen dumps but was told that that was not necessary.
Two weeks later, having received a letter telling me that they acknowledged my complaint, I called again. This time I spoke to the complaints handler dealing with my complaint. She informed me that had looked into it, and the T’s & C’s on the website were correct. I asked if she had tested the sign up to text banking and read the terms linked to the sign up page. She told me no, as they did not have the facility to do that, she had simply reviewed the business text banking T’s & C’s, which she could send me if I liked! I again explained the issue, and described the evidence I had in terms of screen shots, which she asked me to send over. So two weeks after I had offered the screenshots and been told they were not needed, they now needed them. I sent them across and was called the next day.
It appeared there was an issue, they were the wrong terms and conditions and that they would contact the team responsible to look into it. So, for two weeks they have been signing people up on the wrong terms and had done nothing at all about it. I asked to speak to the compliance department and, unbelievingly was told that HSBC do not have a compliance department. What nonsense!
A quick Google search revealed the employee whistle blowing hot line, a call to them immediately got me access to the compliance department, who immediately go on to the department concerned.
I had a call back from the manager of the Business Text Banking service within a few hours of my call to compliance, offering me (as a gesture of goodwill) free business text alerts for six months. I explained that the terms and conditions I had agreed gave them to me free for ever, so did not feel that was a particularly helpful gesture and also, that he ‘good will ‘would only address my issue, not all the other customers who had been given the wrong terms. She reluctantly agreed to give me free business text banking for as long as I am a personal plus customer and to send out the correct T’s & C’s to all other customers.
A result I think, though a very small victory. I guess the question for HSBC is, was this tested before it was put in front of customers? I suspect it was not, and that also, as the resultant risk is so low in terms of damage and cost, it was probably is not worth their time doing so. After all, ‘Testing? Is than not why we have customers?”