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Card work - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
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!)

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Comments
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: February 22nd, 2007 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I may be about to cancel my TSB Visa card, as I hear they're going to charge an annual fee to people who pay off every month.
I was wondering what to replace it with, but L says I should use 'our' card for my personal stuff and transfer the dosh to the account we use to pay it off with. 'Our' card is Egg, but with a small% cash back on every use, which is why we have it. The Pru are selling Egg to somebody else, though, so that may change, in which case...
j4 From: j4 Date: February 22nd, 2007 11:45 am (UTC) (Link)
The one card I'm keeping is an NSPCC charity credit-card from the Halifax. Not a very good interest rate, but I don't intend to use it unless absolutely necessary, and if I do use it, the NSPCC gets some kind of micro-payment.

The Motley Fool's credit card comparison table is generally quite useful, though they don't seem to list any charity credit cards.
aardvark179 From: aardvark179 Date: February 22nd, 2007 11:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Friends' mortgages scare me, there just seem to be so many ways in which things could go wrong, but I agree if I were thinking of going down that route I'd want good evidence that the lender was very well organised and on the ball.
gerald_duck From: gerald_duck Date: February 22nd, 2007 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
There's a reason the Midland Bank changed its name to HSBC. No longer being shit isn't it.
bellinghman From: bellinghman Date: February 22nd, 2007 12:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, being bought out was.

Back in the days they called themselves Midland, they were OK - a perfectly competent bank by the standards of the day. Sadly, since more competition has appeared, rather than learn lessons from the newcomers and improve their service, they appear to have gone backwards.

They're a dinosaur, one of the apatosaurs. It's just that the nimble little raptor chewing on the end of its tail has yet to be noticed.
emperor From: emperor Date: February 22nd, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have an HSBC card, because it's the only one I have with a plausibly-large credit limit. My other bank, Nationwide, are just as inept, sadly :(
j4 From: j4 Date: February 22nd, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
How big a credit limit do you need? None of the cards I took out seemed to have any problem with offering me 3K or thereabouts, and kept upping the credit limit to try to entice me to get into debt; but I can't imagine ever wanting to spend anything like that much on credit. I suppose if you were using it for the downpayment on a house or something, but then surely there are better ways to get loans!
glittertigger From: glittertigger Date: February 22nd, 2007 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't have a credit card at all any more. I applied for an HSBC one a year or so ago (I was going abroad and thought I ought to have one) and they kept losing paperwork and never set it up. Possibly a blessing in disguise.

I have a mortgage with them and at least that service seems to be competently run.
lethargic_man From: lethargic_man Date: February 22nd, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never had a credit card, and don't want one; I manage perfectly well with my debit card.
caramel_betty From: caramel_betty Date: February 22nd, 2007 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
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.

Via the magic of Google and boredom:

j4 From: j4 Date: February 22nd, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! Like I say, not immediately necessary, but I will bookmark this so I can find it at a later date.

And good to see someone harnessing boredom for the forces of good. 8-) Recently I've been soaking up some of my spare cycles being a Mechanical Turk, but usually it's just sudoku and arguing on usenet...
jvvw From: jvvw Date: February 22nd, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
You've got me worried - I'm actually in the process of moving my bank account to HSBC. Jon's used them for years and the folk at our local branch know exactly who we are and bend over backwards to be helpful. I've been impressed so far. It was the fact that it took me over an hour at a branch of Barclays to get my address changed when we moved that was the final straw, and our joint account and mortgage is with them, so it made sense.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 1st, 2007 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)
[don't know why I've only just seen the notification for this comment, but]

I'm sorry if I've got you worried -- other people have obviously had much better experiences of HSBC, so maybe I have just been unlucky. If your branch already knows you and is being helpful, sounds like a good reason to stay there. I figure all banks know that the hassle of changing banks is enough to deter most people from doing so most of the time, so they've no real incentive to bother overmuch about customer service; but if they're giving you a satisfactory service, then clearly there's no need to change, and if they stop doing so, you can always change later. (NB I don't really have any money to speak of, so they've no incentive to treat me politely! -- your experience is likely to be a lot better in this regard.)

Fortunately, now that I can do most things over the web I can't imagine ever needing to go into the branch of any bank often enough that the staff would get to know me, & that suits me just fine.
i_ludicrous From: i_ludicrous Date: February 23rd, 2007 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I find I have to have this kind of credit card cull every couple of years. So far the HSBC card I got when I was 18 has always survived, but I think it will go in the next round: they have finally decided to get rid of the interest free period for cash advances, which is the only reason I have hung on to it up till now. I can't understand why they ever thought that was a good idea in the first place...
voiceofsauron From: voiceofsauron Date: February 24th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Hello my name is David. I work for HSBC.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 1st, 2007 11:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I've only just seen this comment (dunno what LJ was doing there with the notifications) but I'm sorry if you're offended by my account of my experience with HSBC. I have spoken to helpful members of staff there (the Loughborough branch were certainly better than the Cambridge branch) and I'm certainly not saying that everybody who works for them is useless, but overall my experience with the bank was pretty bad. Maybe I was just unlucky.
hairyears From: hairyears Date: February 28th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I keep one spare card in a safe place, unused except for a couple of subscriptions, as a backup in case the main card is stolen - or in case the issuer withdraws it.

...Which leads to your point about HSBC: if you don't trust them, dont trust them. I find it astonishing that anyone thinks otherwise.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 1st, 2007 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Frankly, I don't trust any banks. If I actually had any money to speak of, I'd be worrying a lot more than I am!
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