HSBC Refunds $35 Fee, Not To Correct Their Mistake, But Because You Have A Deadly Brain Tumor

Brian, who is suffering from an inoperable malignant brain tumor which may kill him in a matter of months, writes he’s having with troubles with his Orchard Bank (aka HSBC Bank Card Services) credit card:

I made an electronic payment online with my one of my bank’s check card. Turns out this was the wrong one, and I immediately canceled the payment (as there’s a very easy to find and large button allowing you to do this immediately as well), and resubmitted it through the correct bank. So, to sum up, the payment was made, about two weeks before it was due. I figured all was cool and I was being a good customer for paying more than the minimum balance, way ahead of the due date, online, so there wouldn’t be any “problems” with a check or the postal service. Then I look on my statement and I’ve been charged a $35 Returned Payment Fee.

WTF?! was the first thought that went through my mind. Since I was close to my limit, they didn’t even count my payment and assessed this fee, putting me over my (meager) limit. I sent an email to Customer Service explaining everything and had planned to call, but the cancer medication I take had other plans and I spent all day in bed in the worst pain imaginable. (Sorry to whine or to fish for support here…)

Their first email back read:

We are writing to you in response to your inquiry regarding your Account ending in **** issued by HSBC Bank Nevada N.A. Unfortunately, we are unable to comply with your request to remove the returned check fee from your account. According to your Cardmember Agreement and Disclosure Statement, you agree to pay a fee each time a check is returned unsatisfied by your financial institution for any reason.

Unfortunately I paid this neither with a check and it wasn’t returned by MY bank – I voluntarily canceled the transaction and used a VISA Check Card. Says nothing about a $35 fee in the Cardholder Agreement about that.

That was Monday morning, when I placed my WONDERFUL call to Customer Service who blamed everything on me. I sent a second email back, a little bit of a tear jerker, and I got something that might have gotten a little lost in translation….

“We are sorry to hear about your difficult situation. As a courtesy, the return payment fee in the amount of $35.00 has been credited to your account. The fee reversal will appear on one of your next two billing statements.”

In full disclosure, my “difficult situation” is that I’m dying from the presence of a malignant brain tumor, which is inoperable, and while I might be lucky enough to see the next two billing statements, I probably won’t see my 26th birthday in December. Yeah, I guess that’s the outsourcing way of handling a difficult situation. They even spelled my name wrong. Talk about adding insult to injury. But I may get lucky and endless rounds of chemo and radiation therapy, with gamma knife treatment will get rid of it (don’t flame me here, I’m not a neurosurgeon, and I’ve kind of stopped listening for a while now, so I don’t know the exact methods).

Anyway, I plan to give one more call to HSBC Customer Service, then I’m going to sleep for the night. I’ve dealt with Sprint, Chase and Apple (with bodily in injury as you can recall) and come out on top. If I can muster the strength to get this with HSBC (and my ongoing clusterfuck with BofA), I’m taking a well-deserved vacation…or something. Please feel free to post this struggle I’ve had with HSBC – no wonder you released a study ranking them the lowest, um, ranked credit card company. All of this, on top of my supposed “girlfriend” dumping me for another girl today has made it one of those days where I’m ready to give up. But I see everyone else getting screwed over and I’m going to try to gather the energy to fight two more battles. New Orleanians, especially those who work tirelessly for non-profits are fighters, and don’t like seeing the little man screwed. Today, that’s me.

Much, much NOLA love,

Wow, first off, we are really sorry about your medical condition. That is tragic tragic but we hope that maybe your some treatment combined with your fierce pluck will beat it back. We’re equally amazed that your plight was able to crack through HSBC’s steely shell and guilt them into refunding the fee they should have never assessed in the first place. We have to wonder that without you having brain cancer if you would have ever been able to get your money back. When a bank says “we’re doing it as a courtesy,” that means they’re doing it to keep you as a customer, and not because they’re admitting any error.

And in a related story, Lyods TSB of London was found to have a secret manual instructing customer service reps on the art of denying refunds for overcharges unless the customers were “very ill” – or dying.”