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No. I don't have any problem paying them off each month. But three or four years ago I started having occasional glitches when I traveled. I have 5 different credit cards for various reasons and traveling is one of them. It turns out that each credit card makes up their own rules about foreign transaction fees, what countries they will honor charges from and what countries they won't. In the past couple of years I have contacted my credit card services to let them know when and where I will be traveling only to have one or more of them tell me that they won't honor charges in that country. Last year, when SGSpouse and I traveled to Taiwan, it turns out that only two of our cards could be used there and one of them carried a 3% foreign transaction fee on every charge. Various cards have chosen not to allow charges in Egypt, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan and even Barcelona. And it's not always the same card.

Anyway . . . after our Taiwan experience, I decided to shop around for a credit card that might have better international service and low foreign transaction fees. I settled on an HSBC Mastercard. It has a cashback reward system, no foreign transaction fee and seemed to be accepted all over the Asia Pacific. Since I am planning on trips to Beijing, Seoul and Hong Kong this year, that seemed like a very good choice.

I've been using the card for several months. I have always paid off the amount owed each month. I carry no balance. I have never even approached the credit limit of $15,000 on the card.

So today I contacted HSBC to let them know of my travel plans and was notified that my account was terminated. In fact the wording they used was, "We have decided to terminate our relationship with you entirely." Well . . . I figure there must be a mix-up that I will have to address so I ask what the issue is.

1st person I talk with: We have no indication of why this occurred. You will have to call this other number and ask.

2nd person I talk with: We have no indication of why this occurred. You will have to call this other number and ask.

But wait. That's the same number I just called. Then they go away for a few minutes and come back.

Our records indicate that we sent you mail requesting additional information that you did not respond to, so we took action to close your account.

But wait. I didn't receive such a letter. What information did the letter ask for?

We have no indication of what information was corrected by nothing can be done. We have terminated our relationship with you.

Please let me talk with your supervisor

supervisor: We will not tell you what information we requested. We have terminated our relationship with you entirely. I will not allow you to speak with anyone else. No one here will give you any more information about this.

So . . . I have no idea what this is about. I'm kinda guessing that HSBC got caught by regulators doing something they were not supposed to be doing and somehow that led to them "terminating their relationship entirely" with a number of credit card holders. I did get two of the people I spoke with to tell me that whatever was going on, I was not the only customer affected.

Still . . . I sure would like to know the real story.

And, if any of you have recommendations for a good international credit card, let me know. It's too late for this trip. I leave on Tuesday next week. But I still have trips to Germany, Hong Kong and Korea coming up later this year.
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Please let me talk with your supervisor

Unfortunately, I can't add anything that helps. Credit card companies are run by people who are a sneeze away from being criminals.

When I'm in a situation where I need to talk to the "supervisor", I ask for the supervisor and then as soon as that person gets on the line I ask for their supervisor. That doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. Either way, I then ask them if they are a decision making supervisor or a patsy for the higher ups. That forces them into the awkward position of either admitting they are a patsy or making a decision.
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Sounds like you entered the twilight zone--or a corporate star chamber.

Good luck.
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When I'm in a situation where I need to talk to the "supervisor", I ask for the supervisor and then as soon as that person gets on the line I ask for their supervisor. That doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. Either way, I then ask them if they are a decision making supervisor or a patsy for the higher ups. That forces them into the awkward position of either admitting they are a patsy or making a decision.

You sound like you take a similar tactic to me. I spent over one hour on the phone with the supervisor I talked to. I asked to speak to his supervisor within minutes, but he was a stone wall. I interrogated him and pushed for any further information or action. Eventually I did let him know that I understood that he was a peon without any visibility into actual corporate decisions and without any authority. I understood that he was simply following orders.

Once I realized I was not going to get any answers and after I got bored running him around in illogical circles, I finally said: "So you are telling me that HSBC has terminated our relationship entirely. Is that correct."

Relieved, he answered, "yes".

"And there is nothing you can do about it?"

Another relieved, "yes".

"And there is no one at HSBC who can tell me more about this situation?"

"Yes".

"So this means that I am under no obligation to pay of the remaining balance?"

"Yes ... er .. I don't ..."

So I quickly broke him off and said, "Thank-you and good afternoon." and hung up.

I followed up with a series of email messages to their customer services contact address stating that this supervisor indicated that I would not be required to pay off my remaining balance. I thoughtfully supplied his name and phone number which I had gathered earlier in our conversation. My email said that I really wanted an explanation for their action but that since they were willing to wave my remaining balance, I would accept their action. Of course this will have no effect on my obligation to pay off my balance (which is fairly high because it has two plane tickets to China on it) but I'm hoping it might create a little drama in the customer service call center.

I still have no idea what the real story is.
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Good luck.

Thanks. But I am convinced I will probably never know what happened. I clearly am not going to be doing any business with HSBC or my HSBC credit card - even if I wanted to.

I've dealt with plenty of crazy customer service call centers in my life, but this experience really was unique. They must be trying to cover up something. I just can't imagine what or how "terminating their relationship with their customers entirely" would help anything.
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I like the "waive my remaining balance" move.

intercst
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"And, if any of you have recommendations for a good international credit card, let me know. It's too late for this trip. I leave on Tuesday next week. "

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I tend to use two cards for international transactions and call the
card company before the trip to notify them of my itinerary. The
approach generally works.

I use a corporate American Express card that has worked well - as well.

Howie52

And may I add that HSBC Mastercard has quite effectively lost
any chance they may have had in having a business relationship
with me or mine based on your comments.

Companies with poor customer service eventually learn to improve
or go out of business. I recall a salesman in an auto dealership
- (this was a GM - Pontiac as I recall)- who after being told of a
lemon being sold suggested that "Every dog deserves a second bite."

No.
They don't.
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"So this means that I am under no obligation to pay of the remaining balance?"

"Yes ... er .. I don't ..."



Brilliant.
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<<<supervisor: We will not tell you what information we requested. We have terminated our relationship with you entirely. I will not allow you to speak with anyone else. No one here will give you any more information about this.

>>


Of course I have no actual knowledge of what triggered this action.

My GUESS is that your inquiry led someone to be suspicious that some kind of fraudulent activity was likely to take place in a foreign country you planned to travel to.

Perhaps the surest way to avoid that kind of risk was to close the account.

Let's face it. Banks are on the hook for a lot of fraud. I don't blame them for taking pre emptive action of the kind you describe when something triggers their alarm bells.

I wouldn't take it personally, although I'm sure it's a nuisance.


Seattle Pioneer
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My GUESS is that your inquiry led someone to be suspicious that some kind of fraudulent activity was likely to take place in a foreign country you planned to travel to.

I'm still baffled. But I didn't make an inquiry. I simply called to notify them that I was planning of visiting New York and China. They had already terminated our relationship and told me at that time. I have made charges to China Air and to the hotels where I will be staying while in China. But if that created a problem, why wouldn't HSBC simply tell me?

Perhaps the surest way to avoid that kind of risk was to close the account.

Again, why not simply tell me that. Actually, last month I got a letter from my AAA Visa card telling me that my card had been cancelled and a new one was in the mail. When I called to find out what was going on, they apologized for the inconvenience, then told me that a vendor's database had been compromised and the safest thing to do was to re-issue cards to all those that might have been impacted. I was without a card for a few days, but I appreciated the explanation and apology. They would not tell me which vendor was compromised, but I was still satisfied.

Let's face it. Banks are on the hook for a lot of fraud. I don't blame them for taking pre emptive action of the kind you describe when something triggers their alarm bells.

Yeah. I get that. But HSBC was using what I would consider very aggressive language. Plus, after some pressure, they told me that crazy story about sending me a letter requesting more information and that it was my lack of a response that caused this action. I really don't believe them. I never received such a letter and when I asked what the information they requested was, they refused to tell me. Why make up a story to blame me? And why not at least make that story complete and believable?

I wouldn't take it personally, although I'm sure it's a nuisance.

Well . . . I don't know if I took it personally, but it did make me angry - especially to find out just before I took the first trip when I needed it. The whole reason I applied for the card is to get the 0% foreign transaction fee usage in Asia where my other cards seemed to be unreliably accepted. I've only held this card for about 4 months, so it turned out to be hardly worth the effort of applying for it.

And I do worry (not much, but a little) about how this impacts my credit rating. What will my credit record indicate?
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I do have an American Express card. It has the highest foreign transaction fee (2.7%) of any of my credit cards. It used to be 3%, but has been reduced recently. I have also visited places where no one accepted it. But I do carry it as my card of last resort.

It is interesting. I have a Discover card that until recently has been of no value at all outside the US. But for some reason, Discover rushed to get established in China back in 2007 and supposedly offers 0% foreign transaction fee there. I will see how widely it is actually accepted in a few weeks.

My credit union provides me with a Visa through Bank of America with a 1% foreign transaction fee. This card has caused me countless headaches and on more than one occasion has been closed on me during the middle of trips even though I called and notified them in advance of my travel plans. When I call about travel plans, they always act like everything is okay and that they know the dates and itinerary, but somehow, things still go wrong. I hate the card and the lousy service but I tend to use it first when I travel outside the US because of the low foreign transaction fee.

And I have a Visa card through AAA that I use primarily because of a 5% discount on gas purchases that is also administered by Bank of America but apparently through some competent part of the organization. I have to pay 2% foreign transaction fees, but it has been my most reliable card when traveling outside the US.
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As big a pain in the ass all of this is, just think back to the bad old days when you had to carry traveler's checks.
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If only I would have done a little checking on the internet before getting this card:

http://www.hsbccardinfo.com

http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/HSBC

http://hsbc.pissedconsumer.com/credit-cards.html?order=recen...

It still doesn't make any sense to me. None of these horror stories exactly mimics my own. It appears that there is some demented person at HSBC who regularly terrorizes customers for no apparent reason.
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I haven't had any problems lately with banks/credit card companies/phone companies/retailers, etc.

But in the past I've mentioned that I plan to post details of the transaction on line to warn others of the behavior of the relevant company(ies).

When I had a NYState residence I used the threat of complaining to the AG and that worked as well as anything.
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Bummer!
I also have credit cards chosen specifically for use in international travel.

I don't travel often enough, however. Last time I couldn't remember my PIN for that card. It takes two weeks to get a new one, which was too long.

It turned out that most of Tanzania prefers American cash anyway.

Vickifool
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I followed up with a series of email messages to their customer services contact address stating that this supervisor indicated that I would not be required to pay off my remaining balance. I thoughtfully supplied his name and phone number which I had gathered earlier in our conversation. My email said that I really wanted an explanation for their action but that since they were willing to wave my remaining balance, I would accept their action. Of course this will have no effect on my obligation to pay off my balance (which is fairly high because it has two plane tickets to China on it) but I'm hoping it might create a little drama in the customer service call center.

I still have no idea what the real story is.


Brilliant!

I'll have to practice to become a quick thinker like that.

Vickifool
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