February 22nd, 2007


Card work

A few weeks ago I finally got round to cancelling three credit cards (leaving me with just one, which is quite enough). The three to get the chop were:

HSBC - the card I got with my student account in 1996, heavily used until about 6 months ago
Egg - a card I originally got on a 0% balance transfer deal to help me pay off the HSBC card, and had used occasionally thereafter
first direct - ditto, except that I hardly ever used this card after the initial balance transfer</blockquote>

The banks' different approaches to cancelling the cards were interesting to note.

first direct eventually sent a clear and official-looking letter and form with a pre-paid envelope to confirm cancellation and return my card (cut in half).
Egg phoned me up fairly promptly to confirm that I wanted to cancel, to tell me that I didn't need to return the card so long as I destroyed it, to ask me why I was cancelling it (on being told "I just don't need more than one credit card" they just said "fair enough!" and didn't push or argue) and to read me the small print (I can't reapply within 12 months).
HSBC ... nada. Absolutely no checking, no acknowledgement, but I can no longer log in to my online banking, so I assume they have closed the account. (Some of you may remember that it took me FIVE MONTHS to close my current account with them, and when I finally managed to overcome their obstructiveness to achieve this -- after several phone calls and two visits to the branch -- I asked them to send me a closing statement; they said they would, and never did.)

I was rather hoping that HSBC would ask me why I was leaving, and they didn't even do that, so I didn't have a chance to tell them it was because of their consistently appalling customer service, uncompetitive rates, unhelpful staff, total lack of communication, and generally being as much use as a chocolate fireguard. A mouldy chocolate fireguard. It seems a bit pointless writing to them now to complain about a service I no longer use, but instead I'll just disrecommend them here.

The annoying thing is that HSBC are one of the (as far as I can tell) very few banks who explicitly offer a house-sharing mortgage for up to four people. Unfortunately I wouldn't trust them to organise the proverbial drinking spree in a drink-producing establishment, let alone to manage a mortgage, so I'm just hoping that some more competent banks will start to offer the same. (Not because I'm personally interested in it, just because I think it's a Good Thing!)