HSBC attracts attention for $1.60

When is a paid off account not really paid off? When it is an HSBC account. Part two of this bad joke: When is a closed account not really a closed account? You probably already guessed the answer – When it is an HSBC account!

JW in Illinois said:

I contacted HSBC to pay off my account. They assured me the total given was the full amount. I paid off the account, and I closed the account. That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? It is, but apparently not for HSBC. The next month I received a bill for $1.60. The amount is not much, but when I called to question it HSBC said the interval between the billing and payoff required me to pay the interest.

I paid off the account online. Why is there a delay? HSBC are major scumbags and will squeeze every cent possible. Taken in the context given, no matter when I pay, there will always be a balance. If as**oles had wings HSBC would be an airport.

JW brings up interesting software or programming issues. While HSBC seems to be ‘flying high’ with this brilliant idea to make an extra $1.60, it also tells me that HSBC online software does not interface directly with the main system. Transactions are not performed in real-time, resulting in a delay and an additional balance.

Apparently even HSBC customer service terminals do not interface with the mainframe in real time. Why is that, and what security issues does it cause? JW’s account was closed, but HSBC added interest to a closed account.

A survey of our office staff revealed that all online mortgage and credit card payments are processed immediately. Not so with HSBC, where online payments might not post for a few days after the payment was made. Customer service personnel have been known to tell customers to make their payments five days before the due-date. If an online payment is made the same day as the payment is due, and additional $15 fee might apply to ‘expedite the payment.’

HSBC claims to have 50 million customers. If JW had not been aware of the $1.60 billing, the amount due would increase by over-limit fees (after all, the account is closed) and past-due fees. In less than thirty days JW would owe HSBC at least $79.60 on an account that was paid off and closed.

The HSBC representative told JW that the payoff amount was the total payoff. Is this duplicity by act of omission? I remember when my wife called to pay off her Best Buy card. She was quoted the payoff balance, and was told that there would be a $15 charge for a payment by phone. She asked if the $15 was quoted in the payoff amount, catching HSBC in another act of duplicity by omission. My wife specifically said she wanted to pay off the account and close the Best Buy credit card account.

Let us examine what JW discovered, and what was verified with my wife’s Best Buy account. If HSBC transactions were in real-time, in both cases the accounts would have been paid off and closed. The computer would reject any new charges. Delay benefits HSBC, thus the computer will not close the account, and thus will not reject new charges.

After a lawsuit HSBC was forced to record telephone payment fees as ‘new charges’, thus the scam they tried to run on my wife would not have worked if the account was closed. The scam did not work because my wife was smart enough to ask the right questions, and increased her payment by another $15. But what happened to her balance? It did go to zero, and the account was actually closed.

Is JW’s account closed? When does HSBC actually close the account? Perhaps it is when there is no chance of running another scam, charge, or interest payment, either through an act of omission or commission on the part of HSBC.

Perhaps the delay discovered by JW allows time for a team of lawyers and a team of mathematicians to review each account, and when they make a final determination that HSBC cannot legally scam another penny out of the account holder, the account is closed.

The time between my wife’s experience with HSBC and JW’s experience with HSBC is TEN YEARS. So for a dollar, $1.60, or $15, multiplied by the number of accounts HSBC actually has, we see where HSBC might make $500 million or more every year.

Account holders cannot sue. Binding arbitration is mandatory. Merchandise is collateralized. Class action suits are forbidden. What recourse does one have? Almost none! Clearly JW was lied to. What can be done about it? Almost nothing! Clearly my wife was lied to ten years ago.

Clearly HSBC will not be stopped by a proposed credit card bill of rights, nor by regulators that have been asleep for years.

What needs to happen is a lawsuit that can actually calculate the total of improper profits, multiplied by a factor of ten, to determine the next major fine that HSBC would actually pay as a result of the lawsuit. My numbers tell me that the fine should be approximately $5 Billion.

Remember that HSBC Plc shut down everything but the HSBC Finance credit card business. Now is the time to send HSBC a message, and perhaps U.S. regulators and our State Attorney’s General can redeem themselves.

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