So here's the story. Two weeks ago I changed the address, online, for my HSBC credit card account. I received a verification email, stating that it would be processed in 24-48 hours. Fine so far.
A few days ago I got my monthly email from HSBC informing me that my statement was now ready to view online. When I tried to access my account, however, I got the following message [click image to enlarge]:
When I saw this, two weeks after I had done the address change, my "uh-oh-this-is-gonna-be-a-bitch-to-fix" sensors went off.
I found the email address for HSBC's Customer Care, and wrote to them about the problem. At that point, knowing that HSBC has a large presence in Taiwan, I was halfway confident that the problem would be resolved quickly. I received an email response later that day (impressive) stating that I would need to call their Customer Service number to resolve the problem (not so impressive; why can't we just handle this by email?). I wrote back, explaining that I was in Taiwan, and asked if they would accept an overseas collect call. They wrote back and said 'yes.' Still, with all this writing back and forth, I didn't understand why they couldn't fix this by email.
I admit that a small part of this hassle is my fault. I don't have a land line phone, just a cell phone (with which it seems I can't make collect calls, or at least I can't figure out how). So today I walked half a block to the pay phone to call HSBC collect. I get to the pay phone and, thankfully, there's a list of calling options in English. I dial the number for the one that says "International Calls." A recording in Chinese comes on, and then in English, "For English, press 9." I press 9, and then some more Chinese. And more. I can tell that it's a recording that keeps looping, but never any English.
Don't get me wrong. I'm know I'm living in Taiwan, and I don't expect the country to cater to my language. However, when I hear "Press 9 for English", well, I assume that I'm going to hear English.
Anyway, I hang up, and this time I dial the option that says simply "Operator." A nice woman who speaks English gives me the number to make a collect call to the US (00801134567...I think it's Sprint or something). OK, things are rolling now...
The HSBC automated phone menu tells me to enter the last 4 digits of my social security number. I do, and it doesn't recognize it. So I'm then told to enter the last 4 digits of my card number. I do, and that isn't recognized either. So I'm instructed to enter my full card number. I'm a little wary at this point, but I go ahead and do it. It seems to recognize the number, but to verify me it asks for my 5-digit zip code.
Hmmm. Do I enter the zip code for my old US address (which has been changed??) or my new 3-digit Taiwan code? I tried the US zip, which wasn't recognized. Thinking I'd outsmart the computer, I entered the Taiwan zip with 2 leading zeros. Nope, that wasn't recognized either. Finally I get an option to talk with a human, which I choose, and am now put on hold. The computer indicates that my holding is a punishment, because it advises me, "You can prevent this hold time by calling back with your correct account information." Nice.
I hold for about 5 minutes, then get connected with a very sweet woman who sounds like she's from Texas. She asks me all kinds of questions about Taiwan. We finally get around to my problem, and she says she'll need to transfer me to Tech Support. So I hold again for them. TS tells me that according to their end, my address change has already been processed, and the gentleman advises me to type the HSBC address directly when accessing the log-in page, not to use any bookmarks. I'm suspicious of this advice, but I believe him and tell him I'll try it.
I walked home, tried to access my account, and got the same "you currently have a pending address change" message. My account is still blocked. This really didn't surprise me.
I immediately walked back to the pay phone and again went through the process of calling HSBC collect. I tell the guy that answers all the steps I've already gone through, and that I'm frustrated because my bill is due soon, but I can't access my account online to pay it. His suggestion? Make a payment over the phone. Of course, there will be a $15 charge for this "convenience". I take a couple of deep, cleansing breaths so that I don't scream at the man, and calmly as possible explain that there is NO REASON for me to pay $15 to make a phone payment when I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO IT ONLINE LIKE I'VE DONE FOR THE PAST YEAR! He gets the hint and quickly transfers me to Tech Support.
At least he tries to connect me. It seems that TS closed just 1 minute earlier. Gee, imagine that, I missed them by 1 minute. What are the odds? There's no use in getting upset with the guy, so I admit defeat and tell him that I'll call back.
This may seem perverse, but I do get some satisfaction knowing that HSBC had to foot the bill for overseas collect calls totaling nearly 30 minutes, with even more to come.