Thursday, April 26, 2012


I am reminded of GG's post regarding the lameness that is HSBC, and how I thought I was lucky not to have been hit with half the rubbish that she was.  Well, as of yesterday and today, I can say that the 'rubbish' has hit the fan with these folk.  A few days ago, I attempted purchase tickets to CH to visit the hubs; my card was declined.  I thought that something was amiss with SwissAir, so I let it go.  Yesterday, I attempted to make an online purchase, and my card was again declined.  Mind you, I was having no trouble using the 'chip and pin' system to buy everything from groceries to train tickets, so I really didn't understand what the problem could be.  Yesterday, I rang HSBC and was told that I needed to 'come in with photo ID' and the problem would be rectified.  This morning I visited the Baker St. branch and had my card confiscated due to alleged 'fraudulent activity' associated with my account.  I was told that I would be able to retrieve money from any branch by using the teller services.  I was also offered to use of a premiere 'lounge' where I could drink coffee and lounge around, and, I dunno, feel like a big-shot, I guess.  What I was not told was how rigid the ID verification check would be when attempting to withdraw said cash.

Apparently, my signature doesn't look like my signature.  Right.  The passport I have was issued in 2010.  The signature I use is at least that old and hasn't changed in any grand way.  I could see if my current script were being compared to the scribbles on my passport issued in 1988.  That teenie-bopper signature in no way resembles what I write now.  My scrawl is more stylized, and, hopefully, harder to copy, but not too hard for me to replicate, obviously.  As a fancy-schmancy premiere account person, I was given a hard time at the Shaftsbury Ave. branch when trying to extract £100 from my account.  Not to sound like I'm swimming in dosh, but it's not like I tried to withdraw a grand which I could have done.  It's a only 100 quid, people.  (The woman doubted who I was, I guess, and began asking the standard questions like 'how much money do you have in your account?'  I gave her that and the name of the joint account holder.  -didn't seem to help much.)  My signature does look like my signature, and, what do you know, my picture does look like me.  It's my picture!

The passport and its attendant visas all have photos of me attached to them.  The NY state license (a bitch to obtain in its own right) shows my picture.  I have not had radical plastic surgery, undergone extreme weight fluctuations, or shaved my head since having any of these pictures taken.  They are passport pictures, and, as such, pretty much all look alike.  There I am, not smiling with my hair pulled back. 

The 'signature that is my face' should be the most important part of the verification process.  Nope.  HSBC security measures seem to place more emphasis on the fact that the curve on the last consonant in my name was larger in the passport signature than it was on the signature I had to give in order to withdraw money.  There are subtle variations to one's signature.  A loop written one day may be slightly more bulbous or slightly more anemic-looking on another day.  If I were a robot, then I'd write my name the EXACT same way each time, but, alas, I am not, and folk whose business it is to scrutinize signatures should know what to look for when examining one's script and what to make allowances for.

After telling me 'you wouldn't want me to give your money to someone else' or some such rubbish, the bank clerk then handed over five 20 pound notes.  Again, it's my passport with my picture in it.  So, actually, if some punk were to try and extract money from my acct. using my passport, then I think the larger problem would be that my passport has been nicked.  Call the authorities!

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