Jerk Magnet Returns. Just a relatively innocuous post to help the many HSBC Philippines customers out there who have what might be considered “unisex” names and who are getting their card renewed right about now and are experiencing some unusual delays. God forbid you carry a name like Alex, Angel, Jules, Jordan, Kyle, Sam, Chris, Taylor, etc. If you are biologically female, you may suddenly find yourself with a hairy set of weighty gonads, or if you are male, suddenly experience call center “castration” performed on you by some asinine clerical worker that decided to change your sex with the accidental or intentional press of the wrong button.
We have two male crew members with supplementary HSBC credit cards with modest credit limits who have had them for approximately 10 years. They work brilliantly for filling the car with gas, buying medicine, booking airline tickets, getting groceries or picking up light bulbs and tools at the hardware. My logic has always been, if you trust staff with your children and your vehicle, why wouldn’t you trust them with a credit card to help make your and their life easier and more convenient?! Never once have they misused the card and on many occasions the card has been particularly helpful. We started off with Citibank cards, but later switched to HSBC because the latter presumably could put varying limits on supplementary cards, which Citibank could not at the time.
So a new card arrived over the weekend for one of the crew. He has one of the “unisex” names in the list above. He calls the bank, waits for 10 minutes, talks to a phone banker, gets the runaround, they find out he has a “Premier Card” and try to transfer him to “Premier” phone banking which is in fact, busy. After another 5 minutes or so, he finally gets on the line with “Ash” and I only name the phone banker not to single her out, or to blame her for anything, but because appropriately, her name is CLEARLY one of those potentially UNISEX type names. And I only say she, as she seems to have a female voice, but in this day and age, can you really know that for sure over the phone? For all I know, he has an unbelievable falsetto and wears stilettos? In fact, I have never come across an “ASH” before. Is it short for Ashley? Ashmore? Stash? Anna Samantha Helen? Ashram? Or worse, if they have evil ancestors, ASHTRAY or ASHOLE? At any rate, this isn’t about Ash, but it is about HSBC and someone at HSBC responsible for the error…
So Ash asks me a whole bunch of questions, clearly this wasn’t a standard card activation, and when I couldn’t answer the question “do you know when you first got an HSBC card?” I said, “No, I cannot recall, I have had the card for decades” she put me on hold. She returned to ask me my wife’s full name, the mailing address, my birthday, etc. and finally said, “Sir, the card is now activated, but the problem was/is, your assistant is a Ms. in our files, but it’s a Mr. that called to activate.” I said, my assistant is a Mr. and to my knowledge has always been a Mr. and he has been a Mr. from the time I put in the application. I thought to, but didn’t add that, he has a Mrs. and several kids and I am sure his nether regions look markedly different from her nether regions, assuming she was in fact biologically a girl. At any rate, they asked me for birth certificates, etc. and I just put my foot down and lost it. Before exploding, she says, “Mr. MM…” to which I said, “how do you know I am a Mr.?” and she says “because it’s in your file” but then I said “your file says my assistant is a Ms. but he is a Mr.” and well, she couldn’t categorically state why she called me a Mr… and I am pretty sure I never had to drop my boxers at an HSBC branch so they could categorically state I was indeed male…
I told her to talk to her supervisor and have the supervisor call the head of phone banking and for them to FIX THE PROBLEM while I waited on the line. When I asked them to check the records, they agreed he was previously a MR. in their files, when I asked them to check the statements, they said they don’t indicate gender on statements, when I asked them if when the card used the cashier asks for gender, they said it did not. So I said obviously, the ONLY POSSIBLE source of the error is at HSBC, sometime between the last card and the issuance of this new one. Some computer (no, a machine couldn’t be that STUPID) or some clerk decided this Mr. was now a Ms. and forget the complications born by this simple mistake when the card was being activated!!!
DUHHH?! Finally, after a few minutes more on hold, now some 20-25 or more minutes since we first started calling the bank, Ash says it is all okay and the gender will be changed on the records without need for a birth certificate or any further bother on my part. Is a birth certificate even a requirement for a new card? NO?!. So the bank allows the applicant to chose gender without asking them to drop their trousers or skirts to make sure it is the biologically accurate designation. Geez, and isn’t it the United States that just allowed people NOT TO CHOOSE MALE or FEMALE and put NON-SPECIFIC if they want to? What do you call those people if they are not a Ms., Mrs., or a Mr. or a Master? Non-Specific Alex Smith?
It seems like a simple matter. But the amazing thing is, why don’t banks just put the gender or the client on their bill or whatever the main base of information about the client is? Or totally NOT care what the gender is so it never comes up again. That way, the gender is right from the beginning, and will remain the same unless the client requests that it be changed. Why is there some human intervention between card renewals that futzes with this information when it DOES NOT affect the banking relationship in any way? Instead, if 10,000 people (out of millions of HSBC card holders in the Philippines) with the same problem waste half an hour correcting it (and I am sure others don’t lose it like I do and they do submit birth certificates and spend hours more to correct it) that’s a good 10,000 man hours of time wasted, 5,000 for the client and 5,000 for HSBC phone bankers. Take an airline website that takes reservations. They ALWAYS ask for gender, as it helps in check in to ensure that the passenger on the ticket is the person using it. And it helps if the plane crashes, to identify bodies, so they collect that data easily and only inaccurately if the passenger mistakenly presses the wrong gender on his or her reservation…
It’s just all so STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!!
And I am pretty sure the folks at HSBC will read this post, as dozens of them read my last banking rant here and HSBC response here, so I hope they actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS to correct the INANE ROOT CAUSE that wastes a phenomenal amount of client and phone banking center time. And for the word by word exchange, listen to the tape of the conversation this morning and note the amount of time wasted. I really wish I had the foresight to tape this morning’s conversation, so I could put it on youtube, and get a few hundred thousand hits… Remember MM, record all calls to call centers, and let them know up front you may be recording them for “quality” purposes. Hahaha.