'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Friday, July 08, 2005

The World's Local Bank. Not.

It's a hot Friday afternoon in rural Cumbria. At 3:15 I step up to the cashpoint at HSBC in Aspatria - a branch that's open two afternoons a week and, for all I know, spends the rest of its time being a trendy winebar (if such a thing could exist in Aspatria). The machine takes my card - and promptly decides to re-boot itself. By the time it's wandered back from the middle-distance of clearing its cache & registering with whatever DNS it required, it's forgotten that my card is trapped somewhere in its intestines.

Two hours and several phone calls later, someone in Bombay has assured me that he's cancelled my card and a new one will be with me in five working days. When I point out to him that I am penniless on a Friday afternoon and intending to drive to London on business first thing Monday morning, he's at a loss to suggest how I might be reunited with the money which I foolishly entrusted to his incompetent employer.

I'd strongly recommend that any readers holding an account with this bank close it immediately & move to one that actually has a Saturday morning counter-service. Better still, try to find one that doesn't run its ATMs on OS/2 WARP, a computer operating system abandoned some time in Late Antiquity by corporations whose IT departments didn't want to be laughing stocks. Better still, go and bank with one of those posh outfits that actually still aspire to face-to-face service. That way, when this sort of thing happens you will at least have the satisfaction of taking the poltroons and periwigged flunkeys they employ and horsewhipping them the length of Pall Mall.

Note to HSBC's Customer Service Training Dept: it's not a good idea to tell your staff to use the words 'But I've just explained to you . . .' when addressing valued customers.


Blogger Miles said...

The world local bank wants to charge me, an loley student, for using my card in places other than the UK. I could understand the logistics of getting me cash in Africa, but Germany?

"World", "local"?

8/7/05 7:19 pm  
Blogger User451 said...

I withdrew 100 Tunisian Dinars last week on a back street in Souse. No problems. They did charge me £1.75, but I was in Africa, and the machine even had the decency to switch from French to English when it recognised my card.

9/7/05 12:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What the Xxxx????


10/7/05 1:36 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

You heard me right first time, pardner - OS/2 WARP. Yes, the cheapskates at the HSBC not only refuse to provide a decent counter-service, but expect you to interact with technology that no-one with a brain has willingly used for over ten years. I will be taking my custom elsewhere. My message to the executive board of HSBC is simple: keep on banging the rocks together guys.

10/7/05 6:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yet - First Direct, HSBC's phone and t'internet bank continue to amaze me with their service. Don't press my buttons on bank charges please!!!!

10/7/05 11:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have HSBC stopped charging for using other peoples cash machines yet (as in UK ones)?

Oh if you want to avoid a cash machine, also be careful around Nationwide ones which use WinNT. Theres a standalone one in I think Forton Motorway Services (M6 - one with the aircraft control tower thingy) which I've never actually seen work yet. It's always got "This application has caused a General Protection Fault" and "Press OK to close" - hmm, still not found the OK button and "Enter" doesn't work.

I say avoid it because I'm sure just before doing that it probably ate someones card then had a GPF.

As for the cash machine in Aspatria - it probably just got such a shock that there was actually someone left in Aspatria that it immediately fell over! ;)

OS/2 Warp was a superior OS however and even Windows is based on what MS & IBM learned from creating it, but MS went it alone with Windows and the rest as they say is history. It is however very popular with some corporates as the chances of getting a OS/2 virus is pretty much zilch.

That not enough - well there's always it's ability to run Win3.1 within OS/2! OK, I'll get my coat... :)


11/7/05 1:52 pm  
Blogger Viking Longship said...

I would imagine that HSBC figured that anyone brave enough to use a cash point in Aspatria probably doesn't have any money in there account anyway.......

Maybe the maching wasn't programmed to recognise positive numbers..........

Was the person you talked to called John, it really amazes me how many folk in Bombay are called John......... Or Maybe there is a whole generation given English sounding names by there parents to open up the opportunity of a career in call centres....

13/7/05 8:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an ex-HSBC IT (internet) employee, the things I could tell you about them and their attitude to IT systems....

Suffice to say that they probably became aware of the problems with OS/2 about 9 years ago, and immediately proposed a project to move to a better system. I should imagine that they've now just about reached the stage of writing the final proposal, having spent the last 8 1/2 years writing "Terms of Reference" documents, feasability studies, "Proof of concepts", and having countless meetings where vaguely interested parties from various different business units argue the toss about what it should and shouldn't do, and what it should look like.

Hell, if it's anything like the internet, they've probably spent a few million on getting various external companies to put together glossy proposal documents and designs, which they'll then decide they won't like and design it in-house anyway.

As an aside, you should see the data centre where all these systems are run from. Looks like something from "The Prisoner" inside. "You are now entering the Brown Zone. Only authorized personnel may enter the Brown Zone" etc.

13/7/05 10:38 am  
Blogger Nick said...

Anon - thanks for the insight. It takes me back to the less-than-wonderful world of corporate IT from which I escaped some time ago. Oddly, one of the things I did in those days was a large project aimed at getting some airline systems off OS/2 & into the 21st century . . . .

13/7/05 8:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a HSBC employee i have to suffer the bad os2 system on a daily basis, but they have nearly completed the migration process. The main system is written in java and html and is suprisingly good. which will also allow for an easy port as it runs in any browser. most of the other systems are using citrix onto a windows 2003 server. Os2 is just currently the backbone to the operation but a migration to windows is iminent

10/12/06 8:39 pm  

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