Saturday, August 1, 2009

Then Vs Now

This is a tale of two interactions with a bank. Both involved the same customer (me) and sort of the same bank. Marine Midland Bank, then based in Buffalo, NY was subsequently gobbled up by HSBC, which I believe is headquartered in Hong Kong.

The first interaction took place at three AM Buffalo time in February of 1993, when yours truly telephoned them to advise that his credit card (and money) had been stolen in Madrid and I was now without funds in Lisbon, Portugal, and what could they do about it.

Within a very few hours, I had a pocketfull of Escudos from a bank two blocks from my hotel and a new credit card with the old one blocked. To this day I am still grateful to Ruby for her swift action, because I got off the phone almost totally relieved, with funds to eat and to get home.

The more recent interaction was this morning, as it is the first of the month and bill-paying day. The NY Post office has not covered itself with glory in forwarding my mail to me; in fact only three out of five important bills managed to find their way to Dixie.

One of the missing bills is from HSBC, and I needed to know the date and amount of next payment due and the account number (sixteen easy-to-remember digits).

For my security, they refused to tell me the account number, although it ran up a five dollar cell phone bill while they decided this...fifty minutes of listening to really horrid screechy techno-'music'.

Any wonder I keep using and using the word "dysfunctional" to describe more and more of our society today?


Wizardress said...

that is SO frustrating. That type of thing drives me bonkers. I can't believe they wouldn't give you the information, especially since I'm sure you could have provided them with more than enough 'secure' information that woudl prove you are who you say you are. I'm so sorry.

Wizardress said...

oh and it makes me smile on your feed that it says Pascagoula, MS which is where I was born.. even though I know that's technically not what city you're in.

Anonymous said...

I have my account with HSBC set up online - I don't send payments through the mail anymore unless I absolutely have to. Thus, to access your account when you register, you need only the name you chose for the account and your password. There is one bank, however - ING - that forces you to go enter in all kinds of preselected info (when you set up the account) to ensure you are - who you say you are.
I do wonder, though, if you were stuck in a foreign land nowadays, and they don't want to help you out on the phone with a simple matter like this, what would happen if your 1993 misadventure were to happen today....?

Dorrie said...

I do ALL my banking online, and important, regular bills like rent, insurances, etc. are taken directly and automatically from my account. So I can go off on vacation or move or whatever and not have to worry. Even if the amount changes, like the telephone, they still take it off automatically. I can cancel that permission at any time if I feel the need, but so far... no problems, ever!

Fin said...

My finances are set up pretty comfortably for me when I am at home, with a mix of some automatic deductions for bills that do not change amounts each month, and many charges made to a visa card which is then paid down to zero each month...good for me, bad for them.

I actually only write about six checks a year these days. For the bills in question, I have used a system for over a decade which works perfectly for me when I am home, using a touch tone telephone to pay a series of bills from my credit union account which I of course can manipulate via computer.

The real problem here was the failure of the Postal "Service" to forward 40% of my important mail in a timely manner.