HSBC takes its cue from the “we’re a large corporation and we don’t care about you” playbook

By | February 26, 2011

I’m not going to bother to reprint the response I received from HSBC to my recent complaint. Instead, I will reproduce the response I just sent them:

25 Foster Street
Brighton, MA 02135-2616

February 26, 2010

[name elided]
Executive Liaison
Office of the President
HSBC Card and Retail Services
P.O. Box 80026
Salinas, CA 93912

Dear Ms. [name elided],

I have received your letter dated February 18 in response to complaint #[elided] which I filed with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Your letter does not in any way address my complaint.

HSBC did not send a Statement Available Alert to me on January 13. If your records say that you did, then your records are wrong, and someone or something at HSBC is not doing its job, and you need to figure out who or what that is and fix the problem rather than blowing me off with a non-responsive response.

In addition, the Statement Available Alert which HSBC sent me on February 10 was not for the payment due on March 5. Again, if that’s what your records say, then your records are wrong, and someone or someone at HSBC is not doing its job, etc.

Here are the full email headers of the Statement Available Alert I received on February 10:

Received: from murder ([unix socket])
	 (authenticated user=jik bits=0)
	 by (Cyrus v2.3.7-Invoca-RPM-2.3.7-7.el5_4.3) with LMTPA;
	 Thu, 10 Feb 2011 07:04:19 -0500
Received: from ([])
	by (8.13.8/8.13.8) with ESMTP id p1AC4E4W001883
	for <[elided]>; Thu, 10 Feb 2011 07:04:14 -0500
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2011 06:04:13 -0600
From: "HSBC Retail Services" <>
Reply-To: [elided]
To: [elided]
Message-ID: [elided]
Subject: Your Latest Credit Card Statement is Available Online
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="1297339454730.MimeBoundarY"
X-Mailer: ehouse

Here are the log entries from my mail server showing when the message was received:

Feb 10 07:04:17 jik3 sendmail[1883]: p1AC4E4W001883: from=<[elided]>, size=16719,, nrcpts=1, msgid=<[elided]>, proto=ESMTP, daemon=MTA, relay=[]
Feb 10 07:04:19 jik3 lmtpunix[31548]: Delivered: <[elided]> to mailbox: user.jik
Feb 10 07:04:19 jik3 sendmail[1894]: p1AC4E4W001883: to=[elided], delay=00:00:05, xdelay=00:00:00, mailer=local, pri=47107, relay=[elided], dsn=2.0.0, stat=Sent

And here is an excerpt from the body of the message:

I hope it is now clear that your claim, “The Statement Available Alert which was sent on February 10, 2011 was for the payment due on March 5, 2011,” is simply wrong.

I wish that this were the full extent of the problem, but I’m afraid that it is not. As I mentioned in my complaint, in at least one previous instance, I received no Statement Available Alert, timely or late, for a particular payment. I run my own mail server and therefore I have access to the logs showing all incoming email attempts and deliveries, and there was not a single attempt from HSBC to deliver email to my account.

But wait, it gets worse. On February 11, after I filed my complaint, I received two more alerts from HSBC for the payment due February 5, one right after the other. Worse, one of them said it was for a Saks Credit Card account, when in fact my account is for Jordan’s Furniture. Here are excerpts from both of these alerts:

The Statement Available Alert for my March 5 payment was actually sent to me on February 14, 19 days before the payment due date, i.e., not 21 days as required by law.

I hope it is now clear that HSBC is not sending Statement Available Alerts properly and in a timely fashion, and you need to fix that.

As for your assertion that HSBC is not in violation of the CARD Act because these Statement Available Alerts are “not required,” I will leave it to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to decide whether making a statement available for review on your Web site, without notifying the account owner that the statement is available, after telling the account holder that you would notify him or her when statements are available, is sufficient to fulfill the legal notification requirement. I don’t believe it is, but it’s their job, not mine, to interpret and enforce the law.

Regardless of whether HSBC’s failure to send out prompt, accurate Statement Available Alerts is a violation of the CARD Act, it is clearly unacceptable and irresponsible. For you to respond to a customer’s complaint about this failure without adequately investigating it is simply unconscionable.

Ms. [name elided], I know how large corporations like HSBC operate, so I know what “Executive Liaison, Office of the President” means: your job is to make complainers like me go away. In many corporations, someone in your position who recognizes a real problem would not have the authority to bring it to the appropriate people’s attention. In fact, in many corporations, it would be considered poor job performance for someone in your position to attempt to do so. I hope that HSBC’s culture is not so dysfunctional.


Jonathan Kamens

CC: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Case #[elided]
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