Personal Finance

HSBC: So hard to reach, so aggravating to deal with. Does anyone like them?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 1st, 2020 10:15 pm
[OP]
Member
Jan 26, 2020
480 posts
109 upvotes
Canada

HSBC: So hard to reach, so aggravating to deal with. Does anyone like them?

I've noticed HSBC getting more and more uncompetitive over the years but did notice a very good offer for a 3% cash back credit card on US soil. This seems very unusual. Its impossible to get anything good in the way of a credit card offer in Canada if its in US$. So I called them. After a few minutes on hold with the same messages repeating ad nauseum I was transferred to the right department or so she thought. On hold there for over 30 minutes hearing the same message at least 30 times with the same infuriating music droning on, repeating endlessly, just 1 song to wear you out so you hang up and give up. Then when that person got to the phone she said I got the wrong department and when I called another number I was offered a messaging option which I took as I didn't want to spend the rest of the day on hold. What was incredulous about this experience is that the 3rd place I contacted was their "International" department. Can you imagine losing your wallet, you're stranded with not a dime in a foreign country where you may not speak the language, and you're waiting on hold for an hour to tell these idiots to freeze your card? What if you need a cash emergency? How do you contact them? There wasn't even a chat option I saw. Here's their contact us page. Do you see chat on this page?
https://www.hsbc.ca/contact-us/
Here's their US page.
https://www.us.hsbc.com/customer-servic ... 3Afalse%7D
There seems to be a chat option there but its just a bot. Useless. More lies.
How could they possibly not have chat? If you find the local number of a branch that's also a no go. They don't pick up the phone! Its the exact same recording you get when you call their main number. More lies. More total disrespect to the customer.
This has to be the worst customer service imaginable.
35 replies
Deal Addict
Apr 23, 2017
1095 posts
1902 upvotes
HSBC Canada I don't have direct experience with. The annual customer service surveys of Canadian big banks usually has them near last place I recall, but not sure what they did or didn't do to get there.

In the US they have been greatly reducing their branch numbers lately, so I don't think the US market is one they are too keen on at the moment. In Canada they seem stable at present. Not sure what the Hong Kong security law will do for them (especially as regards the USA). I think their main profit regions are 1 Hong Kong, 2 Asia other than Hong Kong, 3) UK, and 4) Canada.

In Canada their offerings seem nice - Premier all inclusive (closest comparable would be CIBC Imperial Service), 'Advance' mostly inclusive with lower financial requirements to open (sort of comparable to an all-inclusive plan at TD or BMO Premium), and then regular chequing accounts non-plan. Cards follow the tiers with colour coding - a regular MC, an 'Advance' MC in red, and a 'Premier' MC in black, as well as a Premier W.E. MC, and the ultra-premium 'Jade' W.E. in metal, and the no-customer relationship required W.E. that RFD likes due to the no FTF and 3% on travel spend. Branches don't seem shabby when I walk by. Not sure if the staff are nice or not. The one thing they have that others don't is the 'global transfer' service that lets one move one's money country to country between one's accounts in different countries.

https://www.jdpower.com/business/press- ... tion-study
Deal Addict
Apr 23, 2017
1095 posts
1902 upvotes
^
The study measures customer satisfaction in six factors (listed in alphabetical order): channel activities; communication/advice; convenience; new account opening; problem resolution; and products/fees. Channel activities include seven sub-factors (listed in alphabetical order): assisted online service; ABM; branch service; call centre service; IVR/automated phone service; mobile banking; and online banking. The study is based on responses from nearly 14,000 retail banking customers of Canada’s largest and midsize banks regarding their experiences with their bank. It was fielded from July 2019 through January 2020.

Mid-size Banks in Canada 2020 J.D. Power customer satisfaction ranking: (1,000 points being the highest ranking)

Tangerine 839
Simplii Financial 819
ATB 801
National Bank of Canada 788
Desjardins 782
HSBC Canada 762
Laurentian Bank of Canada 742

Big Banks (1,000 being the highest score):

RBC 794
TDCT 790
CIBC 787
BMO 784
Scotia 782

If we combine these two lists together:

Tangerine
Simplii Financial
ATB
RBC
TDCT
NBC
CIBC
BMO
Desjardins
Scotia
HSBC Canada
LBC
Sr. Member
Oct 12, 2005
581 posts
493 upvotes
Vancouver
I like HSBC. I have the Advance Package so free unlimited banking with a mortgage of $150k+ or $5000 invested (you don’t have to keep it in the chequing account like other banks). I also get free cheques, free e-transfers, and five non-Exchange Network ATM rebates up to $2, 5x per month. However, the Exchange Network is massive in BC since we have a lot of credit unions.

Their World Elite MasterCard is also a good deal with no FX fees, 3% back on travel purchases, 1.5% back on everything else. $150 AF with $100 travel credit, so net $50 AF.

The customer service has been overall above average. The chat feature on the website works decently, and yes, you can connect with a real person. They are able to help with most banking inquiries (although some questions about credit cards or investments they cannot help you with). Telephone service is usually prompt, professional and friendly, even with the overseas reps. Their product training seems really good.

The app is a bit outdated and limited in functionality, and their debit card still does not tap or support Apple Pay. (The MC does).

I’ve used all of the big 5 for various products. In my personal opinion, HSBC is miles ahead of Scotia, a bit better than BMO, TD & CIBC, and about on par for me with RBC (which has been the best to me) in terms of their customer service.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 21, 2018
5564 posts
5758 upvotes
Vancouver
As a Premier customer I would rate them poor on service, bureaucracy, response time, helpfulness, competitive rates, web services... well, I guess that's about everything, so just call it poor.

But in this COVID-19 year it's a race to the bottom. It would be hard to beat TD Direct Investing, which basically stopped responding to customers at all for 4 months while markets were going crazy. It was literally impossible to get hold of them by any means.
Deal Fanatic
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Nov 13, 2010
7376 posts
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Scarborough
Cdn banks have been exposed during this covid about their unhelpfulness, only care anout their profits
Ofcourse they discourage anything when people want access to their money
Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2006
2060 posts
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Toronto
Scote64 wrote: As a Premier customer I would rate them poor on service, bureaucracy, response time, helpfulness, competitive rates, web services... well, I guess that's about everything, so just call it poor.

But in this COVID-19 year it's a race to the bottom. It would be hard to beat TD Direct Investing, which basically stopped responding to customers at all for 4 months while markets were going crazy. It was literally impossible to get hold of them by any means.
I tried contacting Scotia Itrade twice with questions during these Covid times and only reliable way of doing so ,if I didn't want to wait a long time on the phone , was by complaining to the Scotiabank Office of the President who relayed my question to Itrade.
Deal Addict
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Jun 15, 2005
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I find it interesting that people even have low standards for the Canadian banks and expect something from them. They are all about profits and dividends, so get a free account where you don’t pay fees and leave whatever money there that you need. Then invest in their blue chip stocks for some dividend income Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes

As for HSBC, I find them less helpful than RBC, but it’s all about which reps you’ve dealt with.
Deal Guru
Dec 5, 2006
11012 posts
5990 upvotes
Markham
Big banks are pretty much same if you look at another RFDer survey results

Like TD, I feel call waiting time is relatively short , but then again, they increased minimum balance for chequing account . It's really just what is more important for you
Deal Addict
Oct 27, 2012
2519 posts
4108 upvotes
Toronto
I've been with HSBC for 12 years and I think they have the worst service by far of all the big banks and most midsize banks I've dealt with (save for National Bank).

Everything is always a "no", they don't proactively offer solutions, slow to respond to requests and they are really bureaucratic with certain things. This is despite having been a Premier client with them the entire time (and Jade for a year or so after it was introduced). The only reason I haven't cut them loose is the seamless Global Transfers between countries, but otherwise their service and product offering has really gone to the dogs over the years.

Scotia seems to be universally hated on RFD and in surveys, but they've been the best experience so far for me. Even before I became a Private Banking client with them, I found their service exceptional, and they've always been generous with waiving fees, granting credit and being able to get things done quickly/efficiently, but that's probably because I had a dedicated account manager for professionals.
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2003
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apnayloags wrote: Cdn banks have been exposed during this covid about their unhelpfulness, only care anout their profits
Ofcourse they discourage anything when people want access to their money
How so? Examples?
Sr. Member
User avatar
Mar 23, 2009
934 posts
783 upvotes
Toronto
I've been Premier with them 10 years or so and they're my main bank. It's probably more difficult than other banks to get things setup, and they're very conservative in approving and granting credit, but once you're setup they're good. Stick $100k+in InvestDirect (rrsp is a good one to transfer over since most won't need to withdraw for a while), and you get free banking. I like the decent Premier CC, the enhanced bank security that uses 2 factor with their app, the instant cross country transfers to your HSBC accounts in other countries, and the uloc is attached to your chequing account and can act like a low interest overdraft.
Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2006
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@ozzie16 @astroboy100
Why would you want instant cross country transfers between HSBC accounts? Has to be cheaper transfering money using XE, OFX, Transferwise,Revolut etc.
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Mar 23, 2009
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Bull Dog wrote: @ozzie16 @astroboy100
Why would you want instant cross country transfers between HSBC accounts? Has to be cheaper transfering money using XE, OFX, Transferwise,Revolut etc.
I'm not converting, cdn-based USD Chequing to US based checking account to pay U.S. bills, etc.
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Oct 27, 2012
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Bull Dog wrote: @ozzie16 @astroboy100
Why would you want instant cross country transfers between HSBC accounts? Has to be cheaper transfering money using XE, OFX, Transferwise,Revolut etc.
Not converting here either. I do have accounts and credit cards in the US, UK, HK, Singapore and Malta, where I can pay bills, get better deposit rates (e.g. HSBC Singapore had a time deposit promotion for USD that paid 2%+), and have real bank accounts with an established bank (e.g. I would trust depositing my GBP in HSBC UK or EUR in HSBC Malta more than the Transferwise Borderless). Global Transfers used to have good rates, but then they went downhill a few years ago. That said, HSBC HK and Singapore do have more reasonable spreads if you exchange currency in the local account (e.g. move CAD to HSBC HK first, then convert to HKD, and the spread ends up being around 0.5%, or at least it was when I last did it.)

I think there are better solutions for US banking, but the UK and HK are important jurisdictions for me to maintain accounts in. Even though I'm a UK citizen, it seems I would have trouble opening another account in the UK without being able to prove residency, whereas I opened the HSBC UK account more than a decade ago using my Canadian address. I suppose I could use a bank in Jersey, but the alternatives have high minimum deposits too.
Member
Oct 11, 2013
215 posts
61 upvotes
Almost American
I agree with HermanH. The big banks and telco's here are absolutely horrible to deal with. Hold times in excess of an hour, poorly trained customer service and a generally bad experience in Canada. There is virtually no competition, do you like blue or red? You'll end up with one of them so they both put such little effort into things it's astonishing. A little off track, but you'll have a company like Bell where the individual CSR can't actually do anything, you go trough department transfer hell. They're penny pinching on all sides and just frustrating the customer beyond reason.
Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2006
2060 posts
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ozzie16 wrote: Not converting here either. I do have accounts and credit cards in the US, UK, HK, Singapore and Malta, where I can pay bills, get better deposit rates (e.g. HSBC Singapore had a time deposit promotion for USD that paid 2%+), and have real bank accounts with an established bank (e.g. I would trust depositing my GBP in HSBC UK or EUR in HSBC Malta more than the Transferwise Borderless). Global Transfers used to have good rates, but then they went downhill a few years ago. That said, HSBC HK and Singapore do have more reasonable spreads if you exchange currency in the local account (e.g. move CAD to HSBC HK first, then convert to HKD, and the spread ends up being around 0.5%, or at least it was when I last did it.)

I think there are better solutions for US banking, but the UK and HK are important jurisdictions for me to maintain accounts in. Even though I'm a UK citizen, it seems I would have trouble opening another account in the UK without being able to prove residency, whereas I opened the HSBC UK account more than a decade ago using my Canadian address. I suppose I could use a bank in Jersey, but the alternatives have high minimum deposits too.
You wouldn't have any problems opening Monese and Monzo and possibly even Starling accounts if you have somewhere for the debit cards to ship to in UK, plus set your VPN on your phone to UK if they need to video call you. I think you can transfer bank funds for free from Monese, and there's unlimited no FX ATM withdrawal with your Starling card.

HSBC is a question mark at the moment what will happen if CCP cracks down on them in Hong Kong.
Deal Addict
Oct 27, 2012
2519 posts
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Toronto
Bull Dog wrote: You wouldn't have any problems opening Monese and Monzo and possibly even Starling accounts if you have somewhere for the debit cards to ship to in UK, plus set your VPN on your phone to UK if they need to video call you. I think you can transfer bank funds for free from Monese, and there's unlimited no FX ATM withdrawal with your Starling card.

HSBC is a question mark at the moment what will happen if CCP cracks down on them in Hong Kong.
Hmm I’ll look into establishing a backup account in the UK as a backup plan. I’ve been hedging my bets in the US, given that it appears that HSBC’s US operations are flailing and it’s possible that they’ll sell it off given their plans to make further cuts. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got out of retail banking in the EU as they’re down to a few jurisdictions (France, Greece and Malta) and they’ve also apparently been in talks to sell the French retail banking unit.

I’m not quite worried over what the US may do to HSBC (e.g. sanctions) and I don’t think the CCP will necessarily crack down on HSBC HK in a way that would impact their operations. However, I moved most of my funds out of HK just in case and converted most of my HKD back to USD aside from my immediate needs.
Deal Addict
Apr 23, 2017
1095 posts
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Was reading through some articles about HSBC, and noted that their higher end product offerings in Canada are structured as follows:

Mass-market offerings such as 'Performance Chequing' (limited and unlimited versions). No minimum funds at HSBC required. Monthly fee payable ($14.95 for Unlimited account).

Advance. Entry level 'premium plan' for all inclusive banking. $5k with HSBC to waive monthly fees. (imo a bit like TD All inclusive or BMO Premium Plan). Includes Advance-specific MC, non-network ATM monthly rebates.

Premier. For 'mass-affluent' customers All inclusive banking, plus free opening of international accounts in other countries. Dedicated Premier relationship manager, and express lines/tellers in some branches. $100k with HSBC (imo like CIBC Imperial Service)

Jade. For 'emerging high net worth clients'. More perks over Premier, such as metal Jade W.E. MC, superior relationship managers. $1MM or more with HSBC.

"In 2019, four Jade Centres were opened across Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai."

"In 2019, HSBC grew affluent and emerging high net worth clients globally in Premier and Jade, respectively, by 7 percent and 14 percent year on year. Over half of Jade’s total clients globally are in Asia."

HSBC Private Wealth Services Canada. For High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) clients (US$5MM and up with HSBC ) Private Banking and wealth management. Dedicated 'UHNW Solution Specialists'.

"Global private banking, where profit before tax grew by 19 percent, attracted a record $23 billion of net new money in 2019, two-thirds of which were in Asia. 2019 also saw an increase in Asia client assets of 22 percent to $51 billion."

One thing I noticed is that the big Canadian banks offer their Private Banking services starting around $750k to $1MM. They are structured much like HSBC Private Wealth Services. The big Canadian banks don't have an in between tier like 'Jade'. So, for example, at RBC one either has the top in-branch 'VIP" plan (which assigns one an in-branch advisor for one's queries or an annual telephone call or sit down in branch), or one can get promoted to not in branch RBC Private Banking/Wealth Management if one has at least $1MM with RBC. So entry into private banking at the big 5 is comparable, asset-wise, to HSBC Jade entry. HSBC Private Banking (above Jade level) has a higher entry point. It seems HSBC globally has this added tier to offer quasi-private banking services to the 'emerging high net worth' clients.

This is more in line with big US banks such as Chase, which offer an in-branch 'Private Client' services which sits in between HSBC Premier and Jade (higher assets required to have it than required with HSBC Premier, but not as high assets as required by HSBC Jade) and has an entry point of US$250k with Chase, and then non-branch J.P. Morgan Private Banking/Wealth Management, which has a much higher entry point than the Canadian big 5 banks have for their private banking. Prior to 2016 Chase/JP Morgan Private banking minimum was US$5MM, (similar to HSBC) but I read JPM Chase have since increased the minimum entry point for US Private Banking to US$10MM. That said, the in-branch assigned Private Client rep, if one wants to do complicated things and has assets less than $10MM with Chase, will arrange a joint call with a JPM Private Banking relationship manager which allows the Chase Private Client customer to use the Private Banking resources and expertise as a sort of guest user, even though a 'Private Client' and not 'Private Banking' client.
Deal Guru
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Aug 20, 2012
13480 posts
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Pacific Ocean
MichaelZZZ wrote: I've noticed HSBC getting more and more uncompetitive over the years but did notice a very good offer for a 3% cash back credit card on US soil. This seems very unusual. Its impossible to get anything good in the way of a credit card offer in Canada if its in US$. So I called them. After a few minutes on hold with the same messages repeating ad nauseum I was transferred to the right department or so she thought. On hold there for over 30 minutes hearing the same message at least 30 times with the same infuriating music droning on, repeating endlessly, just 1 song to wear you out so you hang up and give up. Then when that person got to the phone she said I got the wrong department and when I called another number I was offered a messaging option which I took as I didn't want to spend the rest of the day on hold. What was incredulous about this experience is that the 3rd place I contacted was their "International" department. Can you imagine losing your wallet, you're stranded with not a dime in a foreign country where you may not speak the language, and you're waiting on hold for an hour to tell these idiots to freeze your card? What if you need a cash emergency? How do you contact them? There wasn't even a chat option I saw. Here's their contact us page. Do you see chat on this page?
https://www.hsbc.ca/contact-us/
Here's their US page.
https://www.us.hsbc.com/customer-servic ... 3Afalse%7D
There seems to be a chat option there but its just a bot. Useless. More lies.
How could they possibly not have chat? If you find the local number of a branch that's also a no go. They don't pick up the phone! Its the exact same recording you get when you call their main number. More lies. More total disrespect to the customer.
This has to be the worst customer service imaginable.
One answer as to why. Like all major companies these days - Manila call center!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They dont know shit and banks dont care as long as they are cheap and save them cash on the bottom line.

YESS, HSBC is pathetic. You cannot contact the branch in any which way or manner. You cannot leave private vm with any staff. They will not release any direct numbers. The ONLY way to connect to any staff is via the filipino call center. THEY have to forward your message via email to the staff. Allegedly they are supposed to contact you back within 24hrs - FALSE!!! I tried 3-4 times during an entire week having the call center relay the email to ALL staff and no 1 called or anything until 10 days later. And even when I did receive the call the lady was rushed, overtalked me thru out the convo and the call ended in under 5 minutes. Annoying AF...
If the glove don't fit you must acquit! #WINNING

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