Last year, HSBC unloaded it credit card division on Capital One, and most of its retail bank branches in the Northeast to upstate New York’s First Niagara Bank. They’ve also been selling off their retail banking operations in other countries. Regular people just aren’t as profitable as we used to be. The thing is, while those branches and all of their customers have been sold, not all of their customers are making the change. George, who lives near a branch but had opened his HSBC accounts online for the sake of convenience, didn’t know this. He’s not associated with a branch, so his account stays with HSBC. He just won’t have a branch to go to.
I’ve been an HSBC customer for about 3 yrs now. When I found out that First Niagara was taking over most of the HSBC branches and that mine would be one of them I was pretty excited, well I was until last night.
I had been hearing on the news that all First Niagara customers were supposed to get a Welcome kit about the transfer but I hadn’t received one. I asked around on Twitter to friends and some had received one, and some had not so I didn’t think anything was strange. In fact I found out some hadn’t received ATM cards or checks yet either.
I did some more digging and I found out that all the HSBC branches were going dead at 3pm today, May 18th, and I hadn’t received a debit card, checks or a new credit card from First Niagara yet so I went to get money out of the ATM just in case, and that worked fine luckily. This morning I called First Niagara to ask what was going on and they said they couldn’t find my account, but it wasn’t unusual but to call HSBC to see if my account was transferring over.
I called HSBC this morning and they proceeded to tell me that my account was not transferring to First Niagara and that I would continue banking with HSBC. The problem is that I won’t have any branches to bank at! They are all closing around me or transferring to First Niagara or other banks. The reason my account isn’t transferring they couldn’t tell me. They did tell me that I could keep using my debit card at other ATM’s that weren’t HSBC. I then asked them if I would be charged a fee for doing so or if HSBC would waive it since they won’t have branches around here, they informed me they would not waive the fees.
The only thing I can think of is that because I signed up for my account online for convenience, instead of at a branch, that it isn’t being transferred even though during the online application process it asked for you to pick a branch. Heck I’ve never even been into the branch in my town, I just use the drive up ATM where I do 99% of my banking.
I guess the moral of the story is to make sure you sign up inside at the bank, even if it’s more convenient to do so online. That way you’ll be sure you have a branch if something like this happens.
If you don’t know why George was so delighted that First Niagara is taking over, then clearly you’ve never dealt with HSBC customer service over the phone. (The branch staff are lovely, though.) What do you think he should do, Hive Mind – open up an account with First Niagara, lead a branchless existence, or find a new bank entirely?
By the way, some scamsters are taking advantage of the change to try some good old-fashioned phishing via text message. Don’t be fooled.