HSBC Credit Card

I took a long bath, chewed on some ice and had a long talk with my sister (about a separate topic). And, I think I still want to share my experience here.

Now, I don’t really consider myself a difficult person. My purpose for calling any contact centres (banks, telco) is simple. I have a question and I need an answer. Straight and simple. I think Citibank & OCBC has been pretty good at that. Other than one bad experience each, they are pretty awesome.

I also understand that I should not judge a company’s service through a contact with one person because the person might be having a bad day or new or there was a communication breakdown. So, I am okay with the occasional “bad” service. No one is perfect. And I am pretty sure I gave some pretty “bad” service when I was working in IRAS contact centre donkey years ago bcos I was new.

So, the reason why I am writing here about my experience is because I have met with a series of rather unfortunate “bad” service.

Let’s talk about the good first.

The only exceptional service that made my day was when I called in during lunch time and enquired about credit card application. I mentioned very briefly that I will be going overseas the following week and the guy on the phone took note of it.

After assisting me with my questions, he said, “Thank you for calling, HSBC! Have a great trip, Ms Wu.” I was impressed.

Now for the not so awesome ones 😦 

1. Online Credit Card Application
I wanted to get a VISA card for my trip to Korea since most of my cards are MasterCard. So, I googled a little and stumbled upon HSBC. I liked the look of their card, there was an online promotion and the application was all online.

By online I mean…I can do everything electronic! Not key in my details online, print the form and bring it down to the branch. This was all done electronically. I just have to fill in my details, agree to let them obtain my CPF statement, sign and fax over a “agreement/confirmation” and VIOLA!

Sounds simple right? Wrong.

At 12 midnight that very day, I received an email telling me that I need to submit my CPF statements and/or salary statement and/or SOA to complete my application. Heh? I already did all that!

So I called the contact centre the next day to try and verify that my application went through. I was worried that I was scammed into revealing my CPF statement.

The contact centre couldn’t help. They just repeated what the email said. WHAT? I told the person on the line to help me check and get back to me.

2 hours later, I got a call from HSBC. The person repeated the same thing! Told me that I need to send in the supporting documents to complete my application. I was kind of angry and I told them I have already the submitted my documents online, gave them the period that they can access my CPF statement and told to check.

The person never got back to me. But a week later, I got my credit card. Just in time for me to bring to Korea.

They burst their timeline by the way. Think it was supposedly 5-7working days? But it took 14 working days.

2. The redemption letter and the statement

I used the card during my Korea trip. A month after I came back, I have yet to received my statement which is kind of weird.

So, I called up the contact centre again. I wanted to find out the statement date and if the statement was lost in the mail or something.

The lady told me that I should be receiving my statement the coming week as it was just sent out. Ok.

Since I was on the line, I asked when will I be receiving the redemption letter for my activation gift. She asked if I have used my card within a week from the date of issue and when I said I did…She said something like, “Our relevant department will check on your eligibility. Should you be eligible, a redemption letter will only be sent out on the 30th of June.”

HEH? I repeated what she told me to double confirm and she re-confirmed it.

The outcome? My statement arrived 2 weeks later (from the date of my call). It was a consolidated statement and NOT my credit card statement.

I received a redemption letter sometime in late May? Way before what she told me.


3. Where did I spend $90+?

After receiving my consolidated statement, I decided to utilise their automated phone banking services. It was pretty cool! If I don’t have a Phone Banking PIN, I can choose to verify my information like IC and contact number! I like!

So through the automated Phone Banking service, I managed to have a breakdown of how much I spent. However, I couldn’t quite remember where I spent $90+. I decided to speak to a “phone banker” as they call it.

We went through the usual process of verification. And I asked the phone banker to help me check the name of merchant. I gave him the date and the exact amount.

The phone banker told me repeatedly that he cannot tell me the merchant. But he can tell me that it was made on this date and this amount. BUT…I ALREADY KNOW THAT!

So I tried asking for the location where the purchase was made – locally or overseas. He said he didnt know but it was made in S-E-O-U-L! That’s OVERSEAS!!! I can’t remember if he spelled Seoul or Korea but either way…if the system doesn’t read SINGAPORE, it should technically be overseas?

I asked if he could tell me which shop in Korea/Seoul it was. He put me on hold cos he wanted to check.

After 5-10minutes, he was back on the line. He told me he tried to Google for the merchant and found out that it was an antique shop. I panicked. I didn’t go to any antique shop in Korea! So I asked if he could tell me the name of the merchant and he said he can’t and he can only tell me that it is spelled as A-R-I-R-A-N-G!

*face palm* That’s what I wanted to know in the first place. And didn’t he say that he can’t tell me the name of the merchant? So…erm?

My conclusion was…he didn’t know what he was doing. But I give him points for trying to Google it for me. Sweet but no thanks?

4. Redemption letter

I received my redemption letter much earlier than I was told. Which is a good thing for me! But silly me thought I misplaced it.

So I called in to ask for a regeneration of the redemption letter. The phone banker (Aysa) who answered my call told me that it will take 5-7 working days before I can know the outcome. Fair enough.

I think about 5 working days or so later, I started receiving calls from this HSBC number. As I was rather busy during that period, I keep missing the call. Plus, signal in the office was pretty bad so sometimes the call couldn’t get through. The only time I picked up, I was in a train. I asked the person (let’s call him “agent”) to call me back 15 minutes later.

He didn’t.

He called an hour or two later. When he called, I was away from my phone and couldn’t pick it up.

Feeling bad, I called the contact centre again. I left a message with the phone banker who answered my call and he said he will pass my message to the “agent”. The phone banker also told me that my request for a regeneration of redemption letter was rejected.

Right. I told him to pass the message to the “agent” as he can probably explain more about it.

That night, at some inappropriate timing, I received yet another email saying that HSBC was trying to call me several times over the past week and couldn’t get me. If I have any questions, I should call their contact centre. HUH?!!

No one called back after that email. Chucking it to bad luck, I decide to just NOT redeem the letter and consider the case as CLOSED.

5. The final blow

Then last night at 10.30pm, when I was about to go and wash up for bed, I received a called from Aysa. She said she was calling to check on my issue. Forgive me but it has been almost a month since I made that request so I was like, “What issue?”

She said, “I am just calling to check if you have received your new redemption letter?”

I replied, “You mean I am supposed to receive a new redemption letter? But your colleague told me that my request was rejected. Anyway, I have found my letter. Let me double check.” I left my letter in the office so I went, “Is it possible for you to send me another redemption letter? I think I might have left it in the office.”

Aysa said, “Yes. I can see that your previous request was rejected. What I can do is to set up another request for you. It will take about 3-5 working days.”

I didn’t want to wait cos I waited for a month before I know that my request was rejected. Didn’t want the same thing to repeat itself. Forgot what happened in-between but I remembered the following –

Problem One.

Tired and impatient (WHO CALLS A CUSTOMER AT 10.30pm!), I asked, “So why are you calling me at 10.30pm at night to ask me if I have received a new redemption letter when your CRM system clearly states that my request have been rejected? Are you telling me that there were instances where customers’ request was rejected but a new redemption letter was sent out? And the purpose of your call was to check if your system is working fine? ”

Aysa replied, “Yes.”

MIND BOGGLING! Even if you want to do that, fine. But can we do it at some human hours?

Problem Two

I went, “And don’t you have a rule about what is an appropriate timing to call your customers?”

Aysa: “Yes. Before 4.30pm.”

OMG! Then why is she calling me at 10.30pm?

Problem Three

Anyway, I asked for the matter to be escalated and that I would like to get a new redemption letter before Friday, 22 June.

Aysa went, “Of course. Everyone has their own time management. I will get the redemption letter to you before Friday, 22 June. ”

After some really confusing talk…Aysa went, “But Ms Wu, even if your request is approved, I have to go through a lot of process to get your letter.”

Irritated, I cut in, “So are you telling me that you can’t get the letter to me before Friday?”

Aysa: “Yes. You need…”

Me: “But you said you can previously.”

Aysa: “Nothing is confirmed, Ms Wu. I didn’t promise you anything.”

Me: “I’m sure this conversation is recorded. You can listen for yourself.”

Problem Four

We were going nowhere and we were on the phone for almost an hour.

Me: “Can I speak to someone of higher authority?”

Aysa: “Sure. I will get my higher authority to call you back tomorrow?”

Me: “You mean there’s no team leader working the night shift now?”

Aysa: “There is.”

Me: “So why can’t I speak to her?”

She relented and went to get her team leader. Unfortunately, the team leader was engaged with another escalation case (her words, not mine). So she asked me when will be a good time to call me tomorrow. I told her 10am in the morning and with an outcome for my request.

Problem Five

I don’t know what she was mumbling but she said something about calling me between 2-11pm tomorrow. And asked when I will be free during that period. I told her I have class at night and 2pm is after my lunch hours. Can’t she call earlier.

Aysa, “Because I am the cause of this whole issue. I will follow-through. But I will only be in from 2-11pm.” Now, while I admire her sense of responsibility, I thought it was pretty ridiculous. Can’t she get someone to follow up?

Aysa: “Okay. Do you want to speak to the “agent” who was calling you?”

Me: “On what? Why my previous request was rejected?”

Aysa: ” Yes.”

Me: “And why would I be interested in that? How would that solve our issue here?”

Aysa: “Okay. Then can I call you anytime between 2-11pm tomorrow?”

*face palm*

Me: “Fine. You can call me at 2pm tomorrow. I will make sure I will pick up your call.”

Aysa: “So I will call you around 2pm tomorrow?”

Me: ” Not around 2pm. AT 2PM. Thank you very much.”

After some argument about the timing, she went, “But Ms Wu, I don’t know what will happen to me tomorrow. I might not be able to call you at 2PM.”


Problem Six

I asked to speak her Customer Quality Management team. She didn’t know if it exist in HSBC.

Problem Seven

Here was my proposed solution:

1. She send me an SMS (she suggested it. nice!) at 4.30pm about the outcome.
2. If the outcome is favorable, great! Case is closed.
3. If the outcome is unfavourable (request rejected or letter cant reach me before Friday), she will get her Customer Quality Management team to call me at 10am on Wednesday.

Simple. Straightforward.


I had to repeat it several times, make her repeat it and she still dont get it.

In the end, I simplified matter for her.

1. She send me an SMS at 4.30pm.
2. Get her Customer Quality Management team to call me at 10am.

Let’s see if it happens tomorrow..Or should I say in 7 hours time.

Anyways, I found my redemption letter. I did leave it in the office. I took a picture of its location. So if I do received a call at 10am, I will just relate my experience to the person and ask her to ensure that my redemption process will be seamless.

fingers crossed.


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