I’m at the stage where just hearing, saying or writing those four letters – HSBC – makes me want to hurl something across the room. I’m tempted to start trolling them on facebook; I could set up a fake account and post antagonistic comments in the middle of the night just to let off some steam. I could strive to be as irritating to them as they are to me. It wouldn’t be fair, of course. I’m sure the customer support team at HSBC France already wants to scream as loudly as I do. I’m sure they curse their wretched online banking system that is slower than a snail’s gallop; that they want to weep with frustration every time a caller says, “I’m sorry, but your system doesn’t recognise the answer to my secret question”. I lived in the same house on the same street my entire childhood. There can only be one answer to the question, ‘what is the name of the street you grew up on?’ Yet, somehow that answer is always wrong.
Yesterday, I tried to pay the tax bill – the same one at the centre of the never-ending circle of unhelpfulness earlier this year. When I paid the last one, in person at the tax office, they made me sign a paper to say that I would not be late in paying again. The due date is today. I managed to log on to www.hsbc.fr – a small victory in itself – and navigate to the payment transfer section. There, I was asked to create a new beneficiary and I meticulously typed in the account details. This step took a couple of attempts. The account holder’s name was too long for the online field and when I eventually figured out how to abbreviate it and clicked on continuez, nothing happened. I couldn’t complete the step so I had to go back and start again but the second time it worked. Beneficiary created, I could go ahead and pay the bill. However, after typing in the requested code, generated by the app on my phone, the system took so long to process the request that the code had expired by the time the form was sent. This happened three times and on the fourth attempt at entering a code, I got a message to say that I was temporarily blocked and to try again later. Logging in some time later, I tried to pay the bill again only this time instead of the now familiar, ‘your code has expired’ message, I got a ‘this service is temporarily unavailable’ message – another familiar foe.
I’m about to try again. So, if in about 10 minutes (ok, let’s be realistic, if any time in the next 15 minutes to an hour), you feel a shudder go through you, it’s my simmering rage at the ineptitude of the HSBC France online banking system erupting through the atmosphere. Here goes…