Thursday, January 10, 2013

bad bank (is there another kind?)

I bank at a HSBC branch in Chinatown, it is not far from my place, and since I go to Chinatown often for grocery, comic books etc, it seems logical.  But HSBC canada has probably the worst service I have experienced out of the few banks I have dealt with.  Case in point:

I do one wire transfer or two per year, and I have been doing this in person at the branch because this service was not available via their website.  If I recall correctly, for the 5 or 6 transfers I have done in the last 3-4 years, I get charged somewhere around $30-40 each time.  Not cheap, but that seems to be on par with other financial institutions.  I went there today and the teller ask me if I understand there is a fee for wire transfer.  I nodded and said yes (she kept trying to talk to me in Cantonese, but it is painfully obviously from the start that I don't speak Cantonese).  After I sign the paper authorizing the transfer, I said I would like to do one more, at this point she started to point out that the fee is lower if I do this online ....

Surprised, I asked: 'how much did that transfer just cost me'?  One hundred fucking dollars, it would have been just fifty big ones if I had done it online.  I was like #$%$%*#@!?!?  Firstly they obviously have increased the fee sometime between now and last January, which is fine, I understand things gets more expensive all the time.  But why was I not make aware of the lower cost option of doing it online?  And this increase from ~$40 to $100 for doing it in person just in one year seems pretty outrageous to me.

The $50 lesson here is to always ask how much it is going to cost before you sign anything (incredibly the fees were not stated on the wire transfer form).  Either this was really poor service or HSBC is low enough to purposely prey on ill informed customers.  I guess when you launder money for drug cartels, nothing is out of question.

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