HSBC Avoids Complaints About Small Business Account Closures | HSBC
HSBC was quick to dismiss complaints from small businesses that discovered the bank had frozen or closed their accounts as part of the crackdown on financial crime.
Hundreds of small businesses are believed to be affected, ranging from an importer of avocados to marketing and design firms.
Britain’s biggest bank, which has been accused of reacting slowly to the debacle, said after learning about the issues over the past week it was putting additional staff on its hotline and speeding up the process of handling of complaints. He said staff are reducing the time it takes to unlock an account after the exam is complete.
She pointed out that professional clients received several letters requesting information about their relationships with foreign suppliers over a period of three months, inviting clients to make an appointment by phone or at an agency. A spokesperson said problems occur when customers do not respond, respond late, or provide partial information.
A number of small businesses have claimed that their accounts have been suspended without prior notification.
Calan Horsman, whose company Loogun makes a hand held water gun for cleaning toilets, said he was left with stranded inventory in China, in default of payment to suppliers and unable to pay staff after the freezing of the professional account. He said he sent 60 emails to various people at HSBC and spent 18 hours on the phone. He eventually managed to close the account and transfer the funds to another bank.
Horsman said the company has lost a month in its production schedule, which means that a new product that was due to launch before Christmas has been delayed into the New Year. “It means we missed the entire holiday season. “
HSBC told him he had provided incomplete information and the bank “apparently left a voicemail message but since I didn’t respond they suspended our account 24 hours later.” He believes the problem was a shareholder deposit the company received as part of a fundraiser that was deemed unrelated to his business.
HSBC said: “As part of our efforts to end financial crime, we conduct detailed ‘KYC’ reviews in which we ask customers to provide information about themselves and their businesses. We are allowing several months for this process, as we may need to speak to clients multiple times to get additional data and clarify what they have told us.
“We apologize for the inconvenience caused, but urge customers to respond to our inquiries as quickly and fully as possible. If we do not receive all the information we need, we may be forced to restrict services or, as a last resort, to close an account. We want to work with customers to make sure we don’t have to do this.
Kelly Molson, co-founder of design agency Rubber Cheese, tweeted in August: “For 14.5 years as a business client @HSBC_UK, I am totally disgusted with the way we have been treated. No account suspension notification. and “No time limit to lift the suspension. I cannot make payments, card payments are blocked. You have effectively closed my business.
HSBC has around 1 million business customers in the UK.
A small business owner said one of the issues was that many businesses did not have bank managers to talk to but had to go through inexperienced staff at the Nottingham call center.