Those attempting to defend HFC and Beneficial like to say “we don’t make that kind of loan anymore” or defend the company in other ways. While some former employees speak of customer abuse when they were with HFC or Beneficial, others comment on positive changes. Other than a small $10 million settlement for credit card customers HSBC (Household International) paid only one $484 million nationwide settlement. To take advantage of the $484 million settlement customers had to release Household of all future liability. To take advantage of the $10 million settlement customers had to produce receipts up to 10 years old. In both case HSBC and Household accepted no responsibility. William F. Aldinger commented on the nationwide predatory lending settlement by saying it was easier to settle, but he thought the company would prevail in court.
From 1994 (Aldinger joined Household International) through today (HFC and Beneficial branch closings) HSBC Finance Corp accepted no responsibility. While putting the blame on the customer, upper management said customers should learn more and become more financially educated. The mindset trickled down to branch-level employees who say the customer is at fault. Saying “you didn’t pay your bill” or “you got behind on your payments so it is your fault” is the common defense. One must examine why the customer was late, and proof shows it was not always the customer’s fault.
Change of address requests were not processed.
Military APO and FPO addresses received late billings.
Entire trays of payment envelopes were placed back into the mail system.
Statements were not mailed for interest free promotions.
New credit card intake resulted in 45 day delays on a 27 day payment cycle.
Auto loan payoffs and title requests were not processed.
Statements arrived on or after the due date.
The list goes on and on. The fact remains that Household and HSBC paid out $494 million in fines and much of that amount was not paid out at all. Business is business, but profits certainly outweighed any potential fine. The net impact on families like yours and mine last a lifetime. HSBC tightened lending standards and is making changes. Now the same employees who once said it is the customer’s fault say it is management’s fault. Employees say they are paying the price for management failures.