HSBC gets it wrong a second time

By | March 14, 2011

Today, I received a second letter from HSBC, claiming once again that they sent me a Statement Available Alert on January 13, despite my twice providing proof that they did not.

They also claimed that they were not in violation of the Truth in Lending Act because the Act only requires them to make statements available on their Web site at least 21 days before the payment due date. I.e., the law does not actually require them to notify customers that their statements are available and they have a payment due.

It turns out they’re right… I also received today a letter from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency confirming that the law does not require banks to send electronic statement notifications to customers who agree to receive their statements on-line.

In short, customers who agree to save the bank money and help the environment by not receiving statements on paper, lose the protection of the law when it comes to requiring the bank (or not) to notify them about payment due dates.

Here is the letter that I would send back to HSBC were I willing to waste paper, an envelope and a stamp on it (the HSBC “Executive Liaison” with whom I have been corresponding has not provided either an email address or a fax number, and I refuse to waste my time conducting business of this sort in telephone conversations):

Dear Ms. [elided],

I have already provided to you, twice, incontrovertible evidence that the alert you are claiming was sent to me on January 13 was in fact sent on February 10.

I sent you the mail header of the alert, showing that it was received by my mail server on February 10. I even highlighted the dates in the header.

I also explained to you that I run my own mail server and that I checked its logs and confirmed that there were no attempts by HSBC to send me email between January 13 and February 10.

I also explained to you that this isn’t the first time this has happened.

I’ve been maintaining mail servers for over two decades. I get paid for it, and I’m very good at it. I know what I’m talking about.

If your coworkers within HSBC are giving you conflicting information, then they did not bother to read and understand the information I sent you; they are not competent to understand that their systems are malfunctioning; or they are lying to cover their butts. Or perhaps you know the information you are giving me is factually incorrect, and you are lying to cover HSBC’s butt.

What I do know is that if HSBC cannot be trusted to alert me of statement availability in a timely, reliable fashion, and if your response to a customer proving to you that your alerts are not working is to call the customer a liar and then say that it doesn’t actually matter anyway because the alerts are not required by law, then I am not willing to participate in your paperless statements program. I have therefore just unenrolled from it. Going forward, HSBC will just have to spend the money to mail me a printed statement every month.

Through your handling of my complaint, you have ensured that I will never willingly choose to patronize HSBC in the future. But then, I doubt you care all that much, since your ideal customer is probably the kind that pays lots of late fees and interest.


Jonathan Kamens

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