Sunday, February 17, 2008

Banking abuse

Last week, one of the last things I wanted in an exceptionally busy working week was to have a major row with my bank. I had banked a cheque from a client in Dubai, drawable in UK Sterling at a London bank, and the cheque had gone missing in transit between my bank and the London bank. While these things happen, of course, I did not for a second imagine that the first I would know of this would be to discover a debit on my account (online) of the value of the cheque and referenced as "Sundries". Now, "sundries" to me are small, unimportant elements of expenditure barely worthy of itemisation. To the bank, however, it was the cloak under which they were prepared to steal my money. I had always assumed that once a cheque was presented over the counter and my deposit book stamped that it became the responsibility of the bank. Not so according to HSBC, who sent me a letter telling me that as the missing cheque could not be honoured they were reclaiming the money and pursuing the matter "on my behalf". I hate to think what colour I went and how much stress I underwent at the time and for much of the rest of the day. However, several conversations later, including one with an Asian call centre (not the most personal way to resolve a dispute in the UK), I had ranted and screamed and made it quite clear to all and "sundry" that once a cheque had been deposited and subsequently "lost" while in the bank's charge, I could not possibly be held responsible, that my money should be recredited immediately and that the bank's efforts to resolve the issue would be on "their" behalf and not mine. I quite simply insisted (albeit in a very irate manner) that unless the money was back in my account by the next morning, I would remove both the family's business accounts and our current account. The money was refunded in time. However, I am shaken at this behaviour and will now seriously consider moving my accounts in any case.

The week was particularly busy - jobs just arrived in two's and three's every day. Most of the work was UK based but there were jobs for Germany, Italy and the United Arab Emirates. You name it - there was Safety Training, English learning, industrial narrations, 3D web tours, company awards announcements and incentives, radio, web and satellite tv commercials. A very full week and enough to overflow into another week. Let's hope the bank doesn't interfere with the next seven days!