Why HSBC Sucks


This is part two of a long-running saga. Read part two.

HSBC is not “the world’s local bank” as their motto states. You’ll find branches in 86 countries on every single continent, but each region’s HSBC is an entirely separate bank.

I opened an account in Hong Kong’s HSBC  last summer. When I left the country, I left behind a sizeable chunk of change in the HK HSBC account. Now I want it back so I can close the HK HSBC account and transfer the money to my US HSBC account. I could also use the extra cash. I found out today what this process will require:

  • retrieving a mysterious phone access PIN for my US account that I don’t remember ever receiving
  • calling HSBC USA and asking a rep to mail it to me
  • waiting 3-5 days for the letter
  • going through HSBC’s telephone automated wire transfer protocol
  • receiving a fax number
  • faxing over personal info including esoteric and equally impossible-to-find ABA routing numbers and SWIFT numbers
    • realizing that there are domestic ABA routing numbers and international ABA routing numbers for the same bank
    • calling an HSBC US rep again for the international ABA number
  • filling out all the required paperwork
  • faxing said paperwork
  • paying an extortionate $15 incoming wire transfer fee
    • perhaps paying equally extortionate fees on the HSBC HK end
  • being notified that the transfer failed because my HSBC HK account’s transfer limit is set to a default of $0
    • trying to log on to HSBC HK’s internet banking website to increase the transfer limit
    • realizing I can’t log on because I lack a special Internet “security device”
    • calling HSBC HK to request a security device
    • waiting weeks for a device to arrive in the mail
  • furiously tearing open the mail package
  • being prompted to activate the device by entering the last 3 digits of the HK cell phone number I opened my account with
    • realizing I threw away my HK SIM card with the cell number on the back when I left HK
  • (the saga continues…)

The redeeming part of this experience was their great customer relations reps on the phone. Very low wait times, very helpful. I thank them for putting up with me.