Thursday, January 05, 2006

HSBC Mortgage Payment Nightmare

Well, I *tried* to pay my January mortgage a few days early.

I normally have my mortgage payment deducted from my checking account. When I decided to pay my January payment a few days early, instead of sending a check with a payment coupon I decided to transfer the money from my HSBCDirect account (because that's where I had it until payday) to my HSBC mortgage. I put in the exact amount as my monthly payment (to the penny) and chose to execute the transfer on 12/22.

On 12/29 I received my next mortgage statement showing that my 12/22 payment had been applied in totality ... to principal. Needless to say I had to spend a good deal of time on the phone wrangling with an offshore rep who really didnt understand what I wanted to have happen. Finally I was assured that the 12/22 payment would be (re)applied to the January payment and my January auto-payment would be cancelled. He could not give me a confirmation number though....they don't have those (sigh), but I was free to call back after 24hrs had passed to check.

Oops. I forgot to call back.

Meanwhile, my expense check for October had *finally* shown up while I was away. I deposited it in the bank and promptly made EFTs to pay off my work credit card balances. Only I was apparently too aggressive. Every other expense check has been available in 24 hours, but this one needed 48 for some reason (a different, out of state, bank? who knows) and due to the voodoo of clearing funds I invoked my overdraft protection to the tune of $1000. Ouch. It costs me nearly a dollar a day to borrow overdraft money. And clearly time was ticking.

I couldn't fix it until Tuesday due to the holiday but when I got to the bank I was informed I didn't have enough to pay it back. Which was in turn due to the fact that HSBC still took my January payment from my checking account. At which point I sort of turned into Yosemite Sam only not as cute.

More wrangling on the phone with HSBC (my call was dropped three times) and another offshore rep insisted there was nothing she could do to fix the problem because the cut off for January auto-payments was the 28th, and I had requested the stop on the 29th (well why didn't the HSBC rep on the 29th tell me I couldn't cancel the January payment?!!? Oh, never mind). I finally pleaded with her to transfer me to someone who could fix it for me.

And she did! Lance hooked me up. I don't think Lance works "offshore" either. He reversed the January payment (which had become the February payment by the time they took it out since January was paid...oy vey) and said the funds should be back in my account within 48 hours. I have to double check tomorrow but I also confirmed at the branch that with the recent software upgrade, I can now pay off my overdraft online.

But after Lance took care of that, he broke my heart by telling me that once property taxes are established to be paid via escrow there is no changing that. But that's a problem for another day.

Ok. I know what you are saying...that's not really a nightmare...and you're right. Lance the man took care of my problem after I only spent a total of maybe two hours on the phone (the disconnects, the hold times, the multiple calls...sheesh) and everything should be right. But I am bummed that this cost me interest on my overdraft, hopefully it will be under $10.

Anyway...thanks Lance.


  1. Ugh! Sorry you had so many problems! After a few bad experiences with off-shore reps I am now a bit rude to them. As soon as I suspect I am talking to someone off-shore I ask - "Where are you located"? Generally they are good about admitting that they are in India or Malaysia, or once Muldovia (former USSR territory). I then ask to be transferred to their US counter parts. So far they have always done it without too much fuss. Generally the US counterpart is much more experienced and easier to work with. They also tend to have the authority to deal with the issue immediately vs. the run around you get with the more jr. off-shore folks.

    Then their is the whole off-shore bias I deal with. I have had many friends and colleagues lose jobs to those off-shore folks. The more customers who refuse to deal with the off-shore and insist on a states side rep the more state side jobs you are saving...

  2. Wait, I think I know Lance! He helped me out when Wachovia tried to ply some overdraft fees out of me about a year ago. He must be some sort of superhero of banks who goes around intercepting calls from helpless bank customers. Instead of super strength or x-ray vision, his super powers include QUALITY CUSTOMER SERVICE and FLUENT ENGLISH.

    Either way, I always ask right away to be transfered to a state-side operator when there's any hint of a non-American on the other end of the line. It gets things done faster, and it helps keep jobs on this side of the ocean.

  3. why aren't there more reps like Lance in the world? at least he was able to solve our problem -- w00t for that.

  4. Way to go, Lance! And good job hanging in there and getting it resolved ... it's almost impossible to get good service over the phone anymore.

    On a side note, how are you liking HSBC? 2006 is my year to take control of my finances and I was thinking of opening up an online savings account with HSBC after reading multiple bloggers' reviews of them. Care to add your two cents? :-)


  5. Good job sticking to your guns, Caitlin.

    Maybe this will sound unpatriotic, but I've had some perfectly fine interactions with off-shore reps. A lot of the folks in India speak English as well as I do.

    Of course I'm not thrilled to have US jobs go overseas, but until somebody proves themselves to be incompetent, or unless I decide I want someone with more authority, I'm not about to submit myself to the hold music again once I've gotten an actual human on the phone at last.

  6. I actually agree with Claire. I don't immediately ask to be transferred. My problem is rarely with one of language or accent. I HATE to talk on the phone like this so I will do everything I can to solve my own problem before calling.

    My own problem with call centers in India is that due to the current nature of the business, the reps cannot stray from the script. They are not hired to solve problems. It's as if they are hired to just be one step above an automated phone system. So they can rarely help me if I have anything remotely complicated.

    Believe me, what I do is something that is actually and currently being offshored so I have no direct love of the practice, but it's where american business is's pure economics.


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