Anne Holloway is exasperated with HSBC. After her frustrating attempts to apply for a credit card, she has this to say:
"Nothing gets my goat more than incompetence and lousy customer service and thus far, in my 61 years of life, the most outstanding example has been HSBC (the global local bank) in the past week.
"No, I did not want a loan or credit. I just wanted to apply for an HSBC credit card for the SOLE reason that Cathay Pacific has fare promotions --- and some require the possession of an HSBC credit card.
"Word to CX: the problem with you (and any company requiring a specific credit card issuer) is that by the time the person obtains the credit card, it is often too late to take advantage of the promotion.
"It will be for me - IF and when HSBC Singapore ever issues me a credit card!
"CX's Singapore website informed thus:
'Don't have a HSBC Visa Platinum credit card yet? Sign up for one today! To apply, SMS to 74722 with PLATCNAME NRIC e.g. PLATC Christine Ng S1234567A
Visit www.hsbc.com.sg for HSBC terms & conditions.'
"I sent an SMS on Nov 13 (11:07 am according to my iPhone) - it remains in the ether somewhere, as there has been no call from HSBC's card centre. As a matter of fact I sent another one after that (both were acknowledged).
"Then, I went online to ask someone to contact me; also no response.
"Last resort: I emailed my brother to refer me for a card so that he and I could benefit (hey, I am as frugal as the traditional HSBC banker!).
"This led me to visit an HSBC branch about a Par 3 from our condominium yesterday afternoon (6 days after my first SMS) and completing an application form and providing copies of my Singapore IC and 2 years' tax returns.
"Last night I got on the web and sent in a referral form on my brother's behalf. It was acknowledged and I was instructed in an email to complete an online application which I tried to complete.
"This morning I attempted to call HSBC's Claymore branch to ask the friendly banker to submit my hard copy application with my brother's referral reference. That's when the fun and games truly started!
"Without going into greater detail, I finally sent this in a feedback form to HSBC:
'I am NOT an HSBC customer and do NOT wish to be after most unsatisfactory recent experiences within 24 hrs. It culminated in dealing with 'Betty' at your call centre (9:20-ish today, Nov 20, 2010) in order to contact Jonathan Shan at your Claymore branch.
'I got hold of 'Betty' as none of the other phone options I tried led me to someone I could speak to without a card or account number.
'Your branch is a stone's throw from where I live and I can walk in any time - but I cannot get the telephone number or have my call routed there.
'So I shall have to get dressed and go look for Jonathan?
'Because 'Betty' required my name, the reason for my wanting to contact Jonathan, etc - thanks to Singapore's absent privacy laws I have to reveal my personal details to a call centre person even before I know if she could help me?
'No way. Thanks, HSBC'
"It is 9:59 am as I write this and Jonathan has not called me. So I shall change and visit the branch to find out if anyone from the call centre has passed on my message to him!
"LATER: (circa 10:12am) My cellphone rang as I was getting ready to visit HSBC at Claymore Hill. It was the brother's friendly banker to whom I gave a potted version of what happened.
"It transpires that the referall programme is restricted to online applications.
"So we agreed he will go ahead and submit the hard copy with the supporting documents today when the bank messenger physically transports it for processing.
"And NO, no one from the HSBC call centre has relayed my message to Jonathan.
"The way I see this whole episode is that the call centre telemarketers, the branch staff and HSBC's online centre all compete for the same piece of business and ne'er the twain shall meet.
"Except when a dummy like me, sitting at my laptop, visits their website with telephones (landline and iPhone) at the ready and within sight of an HSBC branch decides to apply for a credit card that I never wanted before but now need to have in order to buy a discounted air ticket.
"If there is blame (oh dear, I'm being un 'PC') then it is the marketing strategists and executors --the overseers of the website (do they act on responses by SMS and email?) and those training the call centre boys and girls.
"As my late mother used to say, "it's not the poor boob's fault" when the system got the better of a person. Which in this case is true --- the system and manuals got in the way of the people who are supposed to get their audiences to love the bank!"