This HSBC Customer Is Left Out Of The Changeover

Last year, HSBC unloaded its 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.


Edit Your Comment

  1. jimbo831 says:

    If the OP was so excited about First Niagara taking over, why doesn’t he simply close his HSBC account before 3 today and open one at First Niagara? This sounds like a simple solution that didn’t warrant a complaint to Consumerist.

    • Sneeje says:

      But… but… he was WRONGED!

      I don’t know what world you live in, but in this world we all sit around becoming victims. We sit around and complain about how others infringe on our lives and make things inconvenient. Did you hear that? INCONVENIENT! How dare others expect us to adapt to everyday occurrences!

      • ChuckECheese says:

        There are a preponderance of these wrongs these days as people try to navigate consumer life. These wrongs aren’t mere narcissistic injury; they cost people time and energy and money and aggravation. These aggravations take resources away from other more worthwhile pursuits. A couple hours with the cable company here, a couple hours with the cell phone company there, a screwed up mortgage maybe … And now the hassle of locating a new bank, signing up for service and transferring funds and payments.The effort adds up quickly.

    • El_Cheapocabra says:

      I live in this area. In some places, ANY bank is a trek. Prior to all this mess, HSBC was the one bank you could be certain of finding ATMs for across the counties. This change has been causing problems for people throughout the region, especially those whose companies handled payroll through HSBC.

      HSBC has done a TERRIBLE job with this change. I saw it coming a YEAR ago, and made haste to move to another bank. Even then, HSBC’s own customer service was terrible. I got different answers from different reps and a general runaround to close my account. They knew darn well that they were closing branches, but they were just not willing or able to make the transition smooth.

      When I finally got them to issue the account closing, the rep tried to cajole me into staying with HSBC until the transition. “But why won’t you stay with us, you’ve been with us for X years?” All I could say was, “A family member had cancer for X years, and she was thrilled to be free. Same here.”

  2. Lyn Torden says:

    Close the account at HSBC. Open one at Niagara. Problem solved.

  3. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    Not that easy for a credit card account….. you know, “length of credit” and “new credit” jazz in calculating credit score. Why should this switchover affect his credit score? HSBC needs to do better.

    • jimbo831 says:

      I would recommend returning to grade school and learning how to read.

      The OP has a BANK ACCOUNT with HSBC that is the issue at hand. If he did also have a credit card (which he seems to mention) it would be with Capital One now anyway as HSBC sold off all credit card accounts to them. The only things sold to First Niagara were bank accounts.

    • humphrmi says:

      It’s not clear if the OP has a credit card, but it is clear that he has a checking account “They did tell me that I could keep using my debit card at other ATM’s that weren’t HSBC”. If a debit card is all he has, then no credit ding for changing checking or savings accounts.

    • az123 says:

      If the OP has a credit card there is no issue anyway, you normally don’t go into a bank branch to do anything with a credit card. Sounds like the biggest issue the OP has here (and a legitimate one) is that he cannot get money out of an ATM without getting charged fees… everything else about his account should work as normal.

    • StarKillerX says:

      So they need to not sell his account better?

      They sold the branches, and of course all accounts associated with those branches would go with the sale of each of them but since his wasn’t associated with a branch he wasn’t moved so what exactly do you expect HSBC to do?

      Let’s be real, complaining because a bank didn’t sell your account stretches has to be the ultimate in entitlement mentality.

      • gqcarrick says:

        I don’t know how the OP wasn’t transferred if he said “even though during the online application process it asked for you to pick a branch.” It would seem that they would associate that user with that branch if they asked him during the process where he was going to be banking.

        • StarKillerX says:

          First I find it hard to believe that he remembers a specific question on an application he filled out more then three years ago, but beyond that HSBC did nothing to his account, it simply sold it’s branches, if he wants he is free to move his account himself so I don’t see why HSBC should need to do anything.

          Rather then getting all bent out of shape and whining and complaining to everyone that will listen he should just open an account at First Niagara and close out the one at HSBC, an amazing simple solution to this horrific, life altering event.

          • ChuckECheese says:

            I love how some people try to cancel an argument by claiming the victim is making up the facts. It’s called gaslighting and it’s considered a sign of psychological trouble. Get over it.

    • dealbreaker says:

      HSBC doesn’t need to do better. I know HSBC customers who were informed by mail, then by repeated phonecalls if said mail was not responded to that their accounts were being sold/ transferred. Obviously the OP didn’t get the said notifications because his account would not be transferred. Why should a bank notify those whose account would not be affected and would remain valued customers. Also, why is the user incovenienced by the changeover if they NEVER stepped foot in a nearby branch to begin with?

      • gqcarrick says:

        Maybe because it sounds like HSBC is pulling out of the area? And what ATM’s is the OP going to use if there are no banks around. Even if he didn’t use the bank, and did most of his banking at the ATM he wouldn’t be able to make check deposits or withdrawls (without having to pay a fee for doing so at another ATM).

  4. Tim says:

    In retail banking, you’re usually permanently attached to the branch where you opened your account, like it’s your home branch. I guess if you didn’t open at a branch, you have no home branch.

    Anyway, if he’s so excited about First Niagara, why not close your HSBC account and switch to first Niagara?

    • gqcarrick says:

      Perhaps because some of the branches First Niagara is taking over are in the country so going to sign up isn’t as easy as it sounds. Also, it says that he had to pick a branch when he signed up for the account in the first place, so why wasn’t it transferred then? Sure sounds like someone dropped the ball.

  5. saffronbandit says:

    Ditch HSBC and go to ING. You don’t need a local branch in today’s marketplace, and ING customer service rocks.

    • scoosdad says:

      You are aware that Capital One now owns and controls ING? Maybe you missed the memo.

      Sure their customer service may be awesome now, but give it time, give it time. They’ve only been in charge for a very short time.

      • tmc131414 says:

        I’ve been using Charles Schwab for about 6 months and they’ve been great so far. They offer free checking with no minimum balance and will even rebate the fees charged at any ATM. The account even pays some amount of interest (though something minuscule like .10%). I have also found their customer service to be pretty good in that it’s not hard to get into contact with an easy to understand person within under a minute. The only drawback is that there are very few Schwab banking branches around so you must do everything online or through another companies ATM. However, I found it has been useful to have this account as a backup especially if you are going to an area that doesn’t have the bank you typically use.

  6. libwitch says:

    That would be the case. The first clue should have been when he uh, never received anything from First Niagara about the changeover (and HSBC can not actually tell their customers anything, due to federal trust laws. I know, I have been around them about this when I found out by accident mine were going to bank that only has branches in counties not near me.)

    Ironically, I have had nothing but incredibly rude and horrible service from First Niagara over the phone. HSBC has actually treated much better, overseas and all.

  7. j2.718ff says:

    I don’t see the big deal here.

    I was once on the other side. My local branch was sold, so my account was set to automatically transfer. But the new bank was incredibly local, and I travel a lot. So I had to transfer my account to the branch two towns over that wasn’t being sold.

    I just wanted to give an example of why some customers might not want to automatically be transferred to a new bank.

  8. chiieddy says:

    I think the options here are (as previously stated):

    1. Close the HSBC account and open a new one at First Niagara if that’s where you want to be.
    2. Close the HSBC account and open a new online account with a bank (Ally/Schwab) that refunds ATM fees
    3. Close the HSBC account and open at a credit union
    4. Close the HSBC account and open at another local bank you’d be happy with
    5. Keep the HSBC account open and live with it.

  9. MickeyMoo says:

    Our local HSBC branch staff is anything but lovely. Walked in wanting to open a CD, mentioned the online rate was much higher, got “then open an account online” as a response and a cold “anything else I can help you with” while the teller/desk person looked over my shoulder at the next customer in line.

  10. Wheels17 says:

    I’m tangled up in this mess too. My account has been transferred to First Niagara, but the local branch that I use will become a Key Bank. So, instead of a pleasant walk to the bank, I have to drive 6 or 7 miles east or west to find a First Niagara bank. Not that it will do me any good, as even after several calls, I don’t have my First Niagara debit card yet.

    I already closed my savings account, but I have to wait to be sure that our automatic pay deposits are coming in to the local credit union account before I close the checking account with First Niagara.

    Which I will do as quickly as possible.

  11. bben says:

    Go with a credit union. Banks answer only to their stockholders and not their customers. A Credit Union answers to the customers – because they are the stock holders. Yes, the tellers at the bank may be super nice and friendly, but what about the management? At my Credit Union, the branch manager knows me by name, he is a long time resident here – not transferred in from 3 states away. He knows the local conditions and wants to see the town do good, not just the company. And, the money in the Credit Union stays in the local community – and is not transferred out to some banking headquarters in NYC to be used for buying foreign stocks or paying the CEO’s outrageous yearly bonus.

  12. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I’m in a little different boat, I have the HSBC Visa card with 2% cash back on everything. It’s been taken over by Capital One. I received a letter in the mail that says everything will remain the same for now.

    I’m not holding my breath that Cap1 will continue with the 2% cash back program. if they don’t, I’ll cancel the card and just use Chase and Discover. It was nice getting 2% back instead of 1% when I paid car insurance, fuel oil, etc.

  13. PLATTWORX says:

    Let’s see:

    #1 – 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.

    {BUZZER} WRONG. Why did the OP tweet his friends and “do some more digging” instead of pick up the TELEPHONE and call either HSBC or First Niagara instead of spending his day online tweeting and digging? He would have gotten an answer before the branch changeover much faster.

    2. “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.”

    {BUZZER} Wrong again! Yes, it was stupid of HSBC to not sell the accounts opened online where they would no longer have branches. However, the OP simply has to go to a new First Niagra branch, open new accounts and close his accounts with HSBC. Done. :)

    Seems like the OP turns what should have been a phone call and a visit to a branch to open a new account and move his business into a Lifetime Original Movie. Not needed.

  14. Mike says:

    Dump HSBC, just because they’re HSBC.

  15. libwitch says:

    In the OP’s (weak) defense, if you listened to the local news media – which for many, tended to be how they found out HSBC was selling branches, to story was generally “HSBC local branches” (and in some stories, all upstate NYS and CT branches” – which is really really incorrect are being sold to FN.

    The real story was actually “most branches are being sold to FN, but random branches are going to other banks, and it all depends on what exact branch you opened your account (not where you have been banking for years) and how you opened your account, and if you don’t get your paperwork from FN by x and x date, then you better start to wonder if and when your account is moving, because you may not have a local bank at all.

    And frankly, when most finances are done directly through a bank account – because most people live a cashless existence, it is a PITA to have to completely close out an account and re-open with a new bank – esp, when you are trying to close an account out with a bank that isn’t physically anywhere near you. It can just be a huge time suck.

  16. mischlep says:

    That’s odd. My online-only account is being converted over to First Niagara this weekend. I was given the option to stay with HSBC, but I discovered First Niagara has branches in my general area (which is a long way from where they’re based).

    I’m planning to sign on with FN, see what works or what doesn’t, and if it’s not to my liking, drive out to their area branch, close the account, and take my cashiers check elsewhere.

  17. Yorick says:

    I recently moved to a state where my bank has ATMs but no branches. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to close the account yet.

  18. Weekilter says:

    Find a new place to keep your money. Try a credit union.

  19. karlmarx says:

    Now that Capital One took over the HSBC credit card divison I need a new credit card. I refuse to do business with Capital One. If I could get an Amex card I would be happy not to have any other credit cards. I have been happy with Bank of America since I have had an account wth them since 1996 and tried other banks and credit unions that were not as efficient with overdraft fee refunds but I lost my credit cards from my chapter 7. HSBC helps you restore your credit. I don’t know what to do now because Capital One is evil

  20. D in Buffalo says:

    I live in Western NY and have been following this very closely. Customers who ONLY had online accounts were not being transferred as those accounts are not housed by a branch. Customers who had online accounts AND at least 1 other account opened at an affected branch had their accounts sold.

    I would also advise the OP to review his account opening documents – for the online savings accounts, usually the first three ATM withdrawals are refunded. (I’ve had a few accounts with HSBC over the years…)

    As far as the ‘random’ branches – that was determined by the Department of Justice, NOT HSBC, First Niagara or KeyBank. (Read the press releases!)

    As others have said, it might be a good idea for the OP to switch to Ally or some other bank that refunds ALL ATM fees. Switching is relatively painless nowawadays.

  21. Kisses4Katie says:

    New bank, or the one he’s happy with, First Niagra. I can’t believe they tell him to use local ATMs, but oh no, we won’t waive the fees. P*ssheads.

  22. scottd34 says:

    What is the purpose of picking a branch? I bank with USAA and dont pay fees and dont need a branch.

  23. IraAntelope says:

    I think 1st Niagara is somewhat overwhelmed. we are still waiting for new atm cards and info packets, they keep saying they were sent and to the right address. who nose?

  24. IraAntelope says:

    Be Brave: transfer to jpmorganchasemerrilllynchgoldmansuchs.

  25. ddrury says:

    My HSBC credit card was bought out in this change over and I’ve found that my Reward Points have dropped in value significantly. Under HSBC I could redeem 35,000 points for a flight to Alaska or Mexico. Under First Niagra one flight to Alaska is a minimum of 70,000 points. I’m doing my best to get some reconciliation and I’ll let you know what I find.

  26. cmac147 says:

    My situation is similar, only a bit more extreme. I had not heard anything about this sale of HSBC branches, until my bank card was declined the other day. When I talked to HSBC they told me quite literary that they sold my account to First Niagara, and that I would have to contact them to find out how to access my funds. Even worse I think I have had direct payments bounce (I am not sure of this since I have no access to any account records). It’s almost like leaving your child with a babysitter, only to come home and find out the babysitter gave your child to someone else, and you can’t find the new person who has your child. As soon as I can track down my account and gain access to it I will be separating myself from both HSBC and First Niagara for this extremely unprofessional act. I just wanted to share my store.

  27. braindead83 says:

    HSBC is making bank selling parts of their bank, and you the consumer are left in the dust, as usual. Try calling HSBC customer service, and not being infuriated by the lack of support you get. They cannot give you an actual number to reach someone at. When you ask for a manager, you will not get one. They were closing my savings account for some BS reason, so i called to ask for the number to reach someone at the branch i opened it at on 5th avenue. This was the directions left in the notes section for my account. Mind you this branch location is massive, it was just remodeled (to look pretty for Mr Rich) and is always busy. You’d think i could reach someone there. NO, you cannot. The customer service agent would not give me a direct number to someone there, and you cannot find one online. Believe me, i looked. They are shifty, shady, and provide some of the worst customer service I have ever experienced with any industry. In person, they are quite nice, and deposits are a breeze. If you do not have an account with a substantial amount of money in it, you will get minimal treatment. This is my experience. The woman in Indonesia from their customer service even apologized to me, and said she wished there was more that could be done from her end. I am thinking of looking into a credit union here in NYC. To a bank, quite literally you are nothing but a number unless you are worth decent money. Otherwise, they tell you to turn and piss in the wind.