HSBC Business Bank Account Review

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TimBenjamin's review of HSBC Business Bank Account

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“My business banking needs are very simple. I receive...”

Written on: 22/03/2006 by TimBenjamin (1 review written)

Good Points
None, although I used to have a good account manager who was able to sort out problems for me quickly. He's since been transplanted to India, I assume, and the branch phone number is a closely guarded secret.

Bad Points
Too numerous to list, see review.

General Comments
My business banking needs are very simple. I receive money from a small number of clients (I'm a consultant) and pay a small number of suppliers (e.g. telephone) by cheque or internet banking. I make a few "expenses"-style purchases each month using a bank card. For these services I pay, to my shame, around £10 per month.

How can HSBC get this simple scenario so completely wrong, and yet charge so much for it?

The internet banking system is a complete joke. You are encouraged to cancel your paper bank statements and to use the online ones only, but they only last for a couple of months. You cannot login on just any computer, oh no, that would not be the whole point of the internet! You have to install a "certificate" and remember numerous passwords and questions for every computer you intend to use for internet banking. If you change computers, or hot-desk at a client's office, woe betide, for if you've forgotten the 20-odd digit code (plus 2 passwords) you originally received from HSBC, you can't access internet banking.

Even if you can login, I find it very unreliable and often have to come back later in the day or on another day to see if it's working again. Oh and it doesn't work on anything that's not Internet Explorer on a Windows PC. So, if you've joined the rest of the world and have moved on to the more secure Firefox - and maybe use a Mac - forget using HSBC's internet banking.

Forget trying to call them to sort it out; if you haven't set a password for telephone banking (which I never use - no need, if your internet banking works!) then they refuse to speak to you ... even if you want to register for telephone banking!!!

Finally. I want a bank card - just like I have with my personal account - which I can use to make purchases from shops. So, it should directly take money from my current account, should be usable at no charge at most cashpoints, and should incorporate Visa so I can use it overseas. HSBC refuse to give you this option. You are forced to take their Mastercard "commercial card", for which you are charged c. £20 per year. This is just a bog-standard credit card, for which the entire balance is taken from your current account each month. So, you get two statements per month rather than one, and you have to reconcile the two for your accounts. The default credit limit is just £1000, so forget buying, say, a laptop on it. I had to fight HSBC to get it raised to £4000 just for 1 month (so I could buy a few large items from the high street). This despite HSBC's subsidiaries being very willing to give me a personal credit card with a limit of £20,000. This is truly pathetic.

One attempt at customer relations I experienced was some Indian- sounding gentleman (I don't mean to be racist but I suspect this was a long-distance phone call) ringing me and asking me for my account details. I refused on the basis that I didn't know who he was, so, could he please prove he was from HSBC? He said he couldn't, until I first proved I was who they thought I was. This impasse was resolved by them sending me literature in the post, for a special "high interest" account for my surplus cash, which they had thought to set up for me. It's still a mystery to me, 3 months on, where this account is, and in any case they were only able to offer something like 3%, which is derisory. There is a good range of alternative interest-bearing options on the market.

In short, if you're considering HSBC for your business, i advise you to look elsewhere.

Oh and I haven't even started on my experiences trying to get an e- commerce solution out of them...

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