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    6 November 2006
    Banking pains
    I was doing all my banking with HSBfreakingC here in Qatar. It was OK. I used to work in the building that housed the main branch (that meant I never had to drive and look for parking within 1 mile radius), I had a friend in customer service and she gave me preferential treatment, there was a Ladies section there with comfy sofas and drinks and yadda yadda yadda. I was willing to overlook all the shortcomings of the bank and their exorbitant charges because of these little comforts. This year, however, everything just went downhill. First, we moved out to new offices miles away from any HSBC branch. Strike minus one. They closed Ladies section. Strike minus two. My friend left the customer service and went into Status department. Strike minus three. For those who don't know what HSBC Status is - it's a catch for those stupid customers who make over a specific amount a month, and are therefore "entitled" to a special status within the bank: supposedly they get free Platinum Visa and Gold MasterCard, they get a special counter, and they can make a free transfer once a month. Oh and they have to pay for it all, of course. Monthly. QR 70 (US$20 or so).

    Anyways, long story short, I somehow bought into this scam, and subscribed for this Status service. Not least 'cause my friend was now Status officer, and I could continue banking with her. My new Visa and Master cards weren't ready one month after I subscribed. I was due to go to Malta on vacation, they were still not ready. A helpful HSBC officer offered to courier the cards to Malta for me, so that I could pick them up there. I said whatever, fine, courier them. So I arrive to Malta, go to the HSBC there, one card is waiting for me, one is missing. PIN numbers are missing - i.e. cards are no good to me as such. Awesome. I arrive back home 2 weeks later, go check with the bank here in Doha - they have no idea how come the card and the PIN numbers are missing but they will "investigate and call me" (charging me QR70 every month since I subscribed). So a month or so later, I get a call from HSBC, officer cheerfully informing me that the card was found, and already sent to Malta, along with all the PIN numbers. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. I laughed, told them that they are morons.

    Later that week I went to the bank and told them that I need my card and the PIN numbers. The bank issues a new card and new PIN numbers. My name on the card is spelled wrong. I point it out to the officer who gave me the card - she said it's my fault as I filled in the application form. I said I did no such thing, I was already a customer with HSBC for 4 years, I was told no separate application form is necessary. So no problem they say, we'll replace the card. Fair enough. Few weeks later the card arrives, name is spelled correctly, everyone is happy. Right? Wrong. I check my bank statement. I discover the following list of charges:

    - Status charge monthly for the account I converted into Status (all fine)
    - Status charge for my separate personal account I did NOT convert into Status (and I couldn't even if I wanted to, which I didn't, because the salary doesn't go into that account, and it's a prerequisite for converting any account into Status)
    - Status charge for my husband's personal account he did NOT convert into Status (same as above)
    - replacement charges for the lost credit card which never made it to Malta in the first place
    - replacement charges for the same card again, for being reissued to me here
    - replacement charges for the PIN numbers
    - replacement charges for the credit card with the wrong spelling

    I mean, WTF??? WTF??

    I go to the bank, tell them to cancel their f**king Status. It takes a total of 2 months to arrange. After shouting and pleading with them for an hour they agree to refund the Status charges to personal accounts. They agree to refund the charges for the misspelled name on the credit card. They REFUSE to refund all the other charges, because it is not bank's fault. Yes of course, it's Saddam Hussein's fault.

    I forgot to add that their so called "free monthly transfer" is only free when it's a standing order for the same amount, same country, same date of execution, every month. So much for "free transfer".

    Today I received a call from the bank, congratulating me on receipt of the refund of Status charges. I go online and find out that they only refunded 4 months instead of 6. Apparently, they can't go that far back and I should be happy they refunded 4 months as such. But hey, people rejoice, my account is no longer Status and there will be no more Status charges. Hopefully.

    I am opening an account with IBQ. So very very soon not only my account won't be a Status, it won't be HSBfreakingC, either.

    posted by Bravecat @ 10:19 am  
    • At 06/11/2006, 17:09, Blogger confused arab chick said…

      CBQ CBQ CBQ!

    • At 06/11/2006, 18:20, Blogger Qatar Cat said…

      Poo Poo Poo

    • At 06/11/2006, 18:21, Blogger SaRo0Na said…

      wish u all the best with the new bank! :D

    • At 06/11/2006, 19:05, Blogger don_veto said…

      I can tell you horror stories about Citibank also but they are so painful, I am trying to forget them :-(

      Now I keep all my loot in a piggy bank. ;-)

    • At 06/11/2006, 20:04, Blogger Mise said…

      lol... year one of 13, I exhausted myself changing banks, paying charges,losing my temper etc..etc..then I was cajoled back to the National bank of AUH by a friend who was head of something or other ...as long as you don't have to go into the bank or get them to do anything for you...they're great ... Thank God for ATMs and internet banking ...you can only blame yourself then if something goes wrong! :D

    • At 07/11/2006, 01:14, Blogger confused arab chick said…

      whats wrong with CBQ? They give me excellent service, sometimes all the way from here.

      As for banks in Doha.. well, I don't think I will ever complain, because compared to Canadian banks (in Montreal anyway) they are BRILLIANT.

      All the Canadian banks have terrible service and need to be shut down.

    • At 07/11/2006, 15:04, Blogger moryarti said…

      I've been Status customer for at least 6 years now. Lately HSBC are becoming a nightmare to deal with.

      The service levels of the bank's call centre is appalling. Its only 1 out of 10 times that i end up with a helpful agent on the phone.

      I am slowly severing my relationship with them, 3 weeks ago I requested to cancel my HSBC credit card - and still they haven't acknowledged my request.

    • At 07/11/2006, 19:49, Blogger { 13 } said…

      I like HSBC Ads:-p.....

      I didnt get this..?

    • At 10/11/2006, 17:01, Anonymous Karen Mc Cullagh said…

      oooh HSBC sound shockingly incompentent!

    • At 12/11/2006, 12:24, Blogger Fo0f said…

      "For those who don't know what HSBC Status is - it's a catch for those stupid customers who make over a specific amount a month, and are therefore "entitled" to a special status within the bank: supposedly they get free Platinum Visa and Gold MasterCard, they get a special counter, and they can make a free transfer once a month. Oh and they have to pay for it all, of course. Monthly. QR 70 (US$20 or so)."
      This actually sounded attracting, I dont blame you for getting that. But the whole charges scam IS Saddam Hussain's fault, lol, you know banks, they like to eat your money up! What I dont get is; why would you think IBQ is better than HSBC =\

    • At 12/11/2006, 13:21, Blogger Susanne said…

      Wow, that sucks! I'd definitely take my business elsewhere if I was you.

      I use the Commonwealth Bank in Australia, and I used Lloyds TSB while living in London. I was happy with Lloyds. They set up my bank account really quickly and with little fuss.

      Commonwealth is alright. It's one of the major banks in Australia and there isn't that much difference between the majors really.

    • At 13/11/2006, 00:49, Blogger [m]attâ„¢ said…

      This is coming from a banker personally. HSBC is rediculous in their service fees. I have a friend that used to work for them, and now works at my bank, and she always said that she never understood why people banked with HSBC because the fees were exorbitant.

      I have NEVER heard of a bank charging to have a client card replaced, even if it was your fault it was mispelled, and they seem extremely unhelpful when it comes to any issues.

      My bank, RBC Royal Bank, has a couple different 'status-like' things that we do, but most of them are jut from our end. We give gold (not blue) cards to people with a certain amount of money or investments with us. This card enables them to waive almost all of our ATM fees and service fees of using another Financial Institution's ATM. This costs them no extra monthly fee.

      I'm just really surprised that HSBC CHARGES people to be memeber's of Status. Anyways, I don't know of IBQ, but I'm sure they are a hell of a lot better.

      I had no idea that there were even banks out there that charge so many fees. Here we are competing with credit unions who have unlimited Chequing accounts with absolutely no fees, guarenteed. Anyways, good on you for leaving them !!!

    • At 13/11/2006, 00:52, Blogger [m]attâ„¢ said…


      Confused Arab Chick, which bank in Montreal were you dealing with ? (cause BMO a.k.a. Bank of Montreal sucks!)

    • At 13/11/2006, 11:41, Blogger Sex and Dubai said…


      That's what it is - they absolutely suck even out here.

      And they are just celebrating 60 years of scheming and scamming people.

    • At 13/11/2006, 19:03, Blogger Mise said…

      Just heard a very enticing ad on the radio for an HSBC Premier account (depending on status, of course). It would almost make me want to rush to my nearest branch.

      I wonder if they're any good? ;D

    • At 20/11/2006, 00:40, Blogger Qatar Cat said…


      Thanks and welcome to Life in Qatar. I am still waiting for the go-ahead from my friend who knows all the ins and outs of IBQ. They're about to have some promotion in a few days, when opening an account will give you some additional benefits. Can't wait!

      Don Veto,

      Yes, thanks for not sharing. I have enough of my own :^(


      International credit cards don't work, and online banking works every other day with HSBC. Duhh


      OK I won't go to Canada to open a bank account then. Or I might go to Matt's bank and hope he'll give me preferential treatment :P


      Welcome to Life in Qatar! Yes I am still waiting for them to cancel my extra credit cards. No word as yet.


      I like the ads too. I just got back from London - they have more there, and they're cool.


      Welcome to Life in Qatar. Yes, unfortunately HSBC isn't the beacon of competence. Poo on them.


    • At 20/11/2006, 00:44, Blogger Qatar Cat said…


      How have you been?? :^)
      I don't think IBQ is better than HSBC - I KNOW it. I checked their charges. HSBC overcharges for absolutely everything :^(


      How are YOU??
      I hate banks. Period.


      Thanks for the insight :) Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of banking with you at RBC, so I will have to make do with what's available. Stay tuned :P

      Sex & Dubai,

      Welcome to Life in Qatar! I am already a huge fan of your blog by the way :D
      And I so agree with your description of HSBC :P


      They're awesome. I suggest you give them a try. Then you'll get to write "been there done that" blogs, just like yours truly ;D

    • At 20/11/2006, 05:58, Blogger Rockin' Hejabi said…


      We had our car loan and bank account at Qatar International Islamic Bank. We actually SOLD our car, had the 30,000+ QR IN OUR HANDS, and went into the bank and they had no $#@$#^ CLUE we had even sold the car!

      We could have TOTALLY left the country with that cash in our hands and it probably would have taken them until freakin' September to figure it out that something was wrong, and then it would only have happened bc my paycheck would have stopped coming... They had no idea I had quit my job, no clue I had sold my van over at a used car dealer on Salwa Road, and certainly no freakin' CLUE that I could have run with the money!

    • At 20/11/2006, 08:55, Blogger Qatar Cat said…


      Hey there! Been a while :^)
      So you also think that banks in Qatar are incompetent... well in your case it's not su much the bank really, but yes I can certainly see your point. By the way, many people here do just that - leave the country with cash in hands after selling their cars instead of paying back to the bank. Of course then when the bank figures it out they usually find the culprit :P

    • At 04/01/2007, 13:33, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      all i can say, IBQ is diffrent. try it you will like it

      an IBQ employee

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