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The TRUTH about "MCS", "Metropolitan Collection Services Ltd"


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EDIT: Please note, the following information in no way means that you should disregard communications from Metropolitan! But, you should realise that in communication with "MCS" you are in reality dealing with HSBC themselves, masquerading as another company and so deliberately trying to mislead you and conceal their true identity. Read on...

Today I phoned those people purporting to be "MCS" to grill them on issues such as their identity, security and data privacy. I have no less then 24 minutes of recorded conversation (thank you Skype etc.) which I will edit down to the relevant parts and post a link here to the recordings soon.

 

What becomes clear from this conversation:

 

* When you phone MCS (the 0500 number) your call is actually routed to an outsourced service located in the Philippines. Although the call is initially answered (automated message) with "Thank you for calling Metropolitan Collection Services Limited" you actually end up talking to a separate organisation, not even based in the UK.

 

* Whether they're "MCS" employees or not is unclear, but it seems they're probably some third party, neither HSBC nor MCS. He said "it's a global service company" - MCS Ltd are a UK company with no overseas operations (according to public record) so this is an anomaly in any case.

 

* Likewise when they call you, although the number which shows up as Caller ID is a HSBC (0800) number in the UK, in fact they're calling you from the Philippines. Misleading information?

 

* Their operators are trained to insist that MCS is an entirely separate organisation from HSBC, although public record (Companies House Annual Return) confirms that MCS Ltd are in fact 100% owned by HSBC, and therefore fully under HSBC's control. That said, their operator didn't really seem too sure who he actually works for, or at least was not prepared to tell me, he just kept on insisting "we're an outside agency" etc.

 

* The so-called MCS (Philippines) have access to a database of information provided by HSBC which includes some personal information, at the very least date of birth, first line of address and account and sort-code details. Given that the Philippines is hardly regarded as the most secure part of the world, it could be questioned as to whether HSBC are thereby putting their customers´personal information and security at risk.

 

In summary, I feel I'm entirely justified in refusing to deal with these people. For sure they're not bound by UK law, Banking Standards etc, which alone is probably a good reason to refuse to talk to them. Since their identity is rather difficult to confirm, how can you be sure just who they are, who controls them etc, and should you be discussing your personal finance situation with such a fly-by-night organisation who won't even tell you they actually are?

 

Will post links to the audio soon.

Edited by netg
See EDIT note at top - added warning in case people don't read the whole thread
  • Haha 1
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MP3 of the second part of the conversation (edited) now available here:

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=14851&stc=1&d=1260385972

 

This is the part where I give him a hard time about the identity of "MCS", their relationship with HSBC, and the issue of their access to "personal information" supplied by HSBC. Also he makes it clear that they're in the Philippines, which was news to me!

 

If you're are being given a hard time by MCS agents on the phone, you might enjoy this to hear the tables turned. Well, maybe it's just a boring conversation, but I had great fun making it :) This is only half of the entire call, there's more in the unlikely event that anyone wants to hear it!

 

The "beeps" represent parts that have been editied out. I've also blanked the sound every time he mentioned my name.

 

Let me know your comments :)

Edited by netg
mp3 as local attachment
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...Just listening again to the bit where I asked him to confirm if he's actually employed by them and he says "um... so far...". Poor guy. Under the circumstances he was doing a really great job.

Edited by netg
corrct typo: very improbable -> very probable
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I decided to do a little more investigation from Companies House records today about "Metropolitan Collection Services Ltd". Here are some interesting snippets:

 

From their Annual Accounts, Dec 2006...

 

"The ultimate parent undertaking (which is the ultimate controlling party) ... is HSBC Bank plc"

So, this is the directors and auditors of MCS going on public record to say that, categorically, HSBC Bank plc controls MCS. Yet, both HSBC and MCS representatives will inform you (on the phone, at least) that MCS is independent. I'm not sure how the law would see that, but I see it as an outright lie, designed to mislead you into thinking something that HSBC would like you to believe. From my conversation with one MCS representative, it's clear that they are trained to feed you this misleading information, so it can hardly be an accident!

 

"The directors made no charge for their services. The company has no employees and hence no staff costs."

 

They have no employees! So clearly, the people that you speak to when you phone the MCS number (or when they phone you) are not MCS employees. Who are they? Who are they actually employed by?

 

The directors of MCS don't get paid! Perhaps because in reality they are actually HSBC Bank employees, and salaried accordingly. Very probable, IMO.

"The company provides debt recovery services, as an agent to other group undertakings and to external clients. The company makes no charge for these services."

 

I seriously doubt that there any any "external clients" at all. Why would HSBC operate a company which provided services free of charge to external clients, except perhaps to help justify the legal validity of the whole charade?

 

"The company has no employees. Services are provided by fellow HSBC Group companies"

So, we already know they have no staff as such, but this goes further. Assuming that "services" in this context include people, then it's clear that those people who claim to be representatives of MCS must actually be employed by or contracted by HSBC Group (whether directly or indirectly). It also implies that the other services which would be required in order to operate at all (office space, IT services, telephone systems, administration, etc.) are provided by HSBC Group.

 

 

Ok, so none of this is really new, just confirming what I suspected, and indeed other members of these forums suspected long before I did.

 

This information in no way means that you should disregard communications from Metropolitan! But, you should realise that you are in reality dealing with HSBC who are deliberately trying to conceal their true identity.

 

As for the reasons for this fairly complex charade, I suspect the main purpose is to allow HSBC to operate debt collection activities completely unconstrained by Financial Services control and relevant law. There are probably other reasons too.

 

EDIT: As these Annual Accounts related to the situation at the end of 2006, it's possible (though in my opinion unlikely) that the above conclusions are no longer valid. However, a very recent recent document, their Annual Return May 2008, confirms that MCS are still 100% owned by HSBC.

Edited by netg
See EDIT note at end
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Can anybody confirm that a company providing "debt recovery services", i.e. not a bank as such nor other type of financial institution, would be completely unconstrained by Financial Services law? It's an assumption on my part, I haven't verified it. Anybody?

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Just found another relevant bit:

 

"During the financial year and the preceding financial year, the company ... incurred no expenditure ..."

 

So, this makes it clear that all, not just some of MCS's needs must be provided by HSBC - if they used any other provider then they would have resulting expenditure. So as I already assumed above, the people you deal with who claim to be "MCS" must in reality be employed directly or indirectly by HSBC, as they cannot be employed by MCS (they have no employees) and not by some other party contracted by MCS (as MCS have no expenditure.)

Edited by netg
made conclusion a bit clearer.
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Sorry for so much replying to my own posts :) but just smiling - the above makes it really clear why the guy I spoke to wouldn't answer my question as to who he was employed by! (listen to the recording) - he was stuck between a rock and a hard place, having been trained to mislead you into thinking that MCS is independent from HSBC and that he was an MCS representative. My guess is he's actually an employee of HSBC Philippines - About HSBC Philippines - that would explain everything! If only I had his full name :( I could then call HSBC Philippines directly and ask for him by name ... hmmm ... maybe next time I'll get the full name...

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This is an old thread and there are a couple of others regarding the trading status of DCA

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/general-debt-issues/54683-dcas-filing-dormant-company.html

 

Thanks for the info. I took a look, but I don't think the it applies in this case as MCS are not "dormant". What they are is a paper company - no employees, no expenditure, no assets, no employees. It would be nice to be able to confirm that some law is being broken, but I don't think so (though Data Protection law is an angle we're still considering.) In general the set up is IMO highly unethical, but probably legal.

 

I also wonder if the Inland Revenue might be interested ... HSBC are funding MCS's activities, providing them staff, office facilities etc, yet presumably writing off those expenses as their own (HSBC) running costs, thereby reducing their tax liability accordingly, without (arguably) those expenses being "wholly and necessarily" for HSBC's own business.

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More things about MCS:

 

- even though they try to maintain the pretence that they're a separate company, all the people that work at MCS have hsbc.co.uk email addresses

- if you ask for their senior staff contact details, they will send fictitious phone numbers

- they also use 'Central Debt Enforcement Unit' as a 'trading style', with a PO Box address in Worthing.

 

With regard to dormant companies, they are obviously just a front for their parent company's less savoury activities. Perhaps that's why the front companies have their own consumer credit licences, so as not to risk the parent's.

Edited by ScarletPimpernel
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More things about MCS:

 

- even though they try to maintain the pretence that they're a separate company, all the people that work at MCS have hsbc.co.uk email addresses

 

Interesting, I didn't know that! Can you give any examples, just for the record? I guess you shouldn't post the actual email addresses, as that would result in them getting spammed, and even I still hate spammers more than I dislike HSBC/MCS liars, though perhaps they're at a broadly comparable level - after all, they both hassle you, try to get money from you and pretend to be something they're not.

 

More things about MCS:

- if you ask for their senior staff contact details, they will send fictitious phone numbers

 

Likewise, any examples?

 

More things about MCS:

- they also use 'Central Debt Enforcement Unit' as a 'trading style', with a PO Box address in Worthing.

 

Also news to me - more details please?

 

More things about MCS:

With regard to dormant companies, they are obviously just a front for their parent company's less savoury activities. Perhaps that's why the front companies have their own consumer credit licences, so as not to risk the parent's.

 

I'm still wondering about just why HSBC have bothered to set up and maintain the MCS charade. There's probably an element of wanting to intimidate you (by making you think you've been passed to a DCA) but being able to operate outside of controls (Banking Standards, Financial Services) that would otherwise restrict them is perhaps the more significant factor.

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being able to operate outside of controls (Banking Standards, Financial Services) that would otherwise restrict them is perhaps the more significant factor.

Nuff said.:mad:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Very interesting this, i have 2 accounts with these jokers, DG are just some department of Metropolitan Collection Services

 

There is a different guise HSBC use "Payment Services Bureau" they another trading style for MCS

 

haven't come into contact with "Central Debt Enforcement Unit" myself but i know some peole whom have and they send out letters looking like court forms which is contravening OFT collection guidelines

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  • 1 month later...

The details supplied on the following website seem to reinforce netgs good work ! unfortunately as a new poster you will have up itself as it wont let me hyper link just yet so look up www csa -uk .co for original format

 

They seem to have the directors email adress here (unpaid charity worker for the bank here !)

Metropolitan Collection Services Ltd

 

56 St James Road

Edgbaston

 

Birmingham

B15 1JL

 

Contact: Mr S Singh

Phone:

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  • 7 months later...

Scarlet, you seem to be the only one from this thread about just now, could you tell me if MCS buy debt as a debt purchaser or are they just a collection agency like Trident is for RBS/Natwest? an in-house collections 'dormant company' no assets, employee's costs etc.. outfit?

 

I am helping a friend to negotiate full and finals on a John Lewis credit card which is probably underwritten by HSBC I guess given it's out to Metropolitan.

 

Just want to get into the best negotiating position by knowing..

 

 

Thanks

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Hi Andrew 1:)

 

As I said to dev123 a few hours ago :

 

Metropolitan are a branch of HSBC which collects their debts for them .... they do not work for anyone else , they use HSBC's premises, database , notepaper etc ...... and they are not listed in Companies House as a separate company ........ so no , not a lot of power - if they get stuck they hand you on to DG Solicitors .. .... who only work for HSBC ,etc etc ... LOL :rolleyes:

So , don't let them put the frighteners on you - if you're in the right - fight 'em tooth and nail ....:)

  • Haha 1

Nemo me impune lacessit

 

 

Advice & opinions given by johnnymitch are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

 

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Thanks Jonnymitch, I'm actually intrigued because my friend is currently in a Debt Management plan with Payplan, but he told me earlier that the account was originally with HFC rather than HSBC..so did HFC get taken over by HSCB?

 

It doesn't matter too much because what he want's to do is try and full and final all his creditors and settle for about 20% of the debt overall. What's happened is that he has the opportunity of some cash which equates to about 20% of all debts. Payplan apparently can't negotiate settlements because the are inundated with requests for full and finals :eek: (too much money about! LOL) so we have to do it ourselves. It's Metropolitan who we'll have to deal with I guess because they have been 'assigned' the debts although to be honest he says he's never had any correspondence to say so...strange. Anyway, as with all things Cabot Fan Club, I'd fight them through the courts if necessary where they are not able to support their debts, but my chum makes the call on this one and he wants to settle one way or another so I'll have to go into my negotiating mode for a change :p

 

I don't think most have copies of agreements, none have actually responded to CCA requests, but he still want's to negotiate and pay these people off - so be it, this is all about peace of mind and I respect that, but there's limited funds to do it so I'll take one by one and do the hard sell to get settlement, I just need to know as much as I can about each one. There's Egg for example, 3 accounts and PT is showing us some astonishing issues on their agreements and being an ardent fan clubber and cagger it goes against my nature to give when they don't deserve, but hey ho - my chums is in the driving seat. So what's the chance of doing a 20% deal with Metropolitan?

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Yes andrew .... HFC are a subsidiary of HSBC

 

HFC (Household) - The Consumer Forums

 

To answer your last question .... I doubt if your friend will get much joy offering MCS 20%..... They(well HSBC ,which is the same thing) have been known to turn down formal requests for reduced settlements even when all other creditors have agreed .....but if you don't ask you don't get ......:cool:

 

Be interesting to know the outcome though ........ :D

Nemo me impune lacessit

 

 

Advice & opinions given by johnnymitch are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

 

If you think I've helped you please feel free to tickle my star :-D

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Percentage offers tend to work with proper "freelance" DCA's where they have purchased a batch of debts for next to nothing and are trying to get their cash back.

 

Metro are not a DCA in that sense they are just a department of HSBC using a different letter head so I doubt the drones working for them would be allowed to do any deals like that.

 

pete

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Have just been directed to this thread in answer to a question I posed earlier. Thank you for all this information. Exactly what I needed. :D

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  • 1 month later...

I registered to this website so I could talk about them, that's how much they have angered me. 2 days ago I recieved debt collection letter telling me I owe HSBC money on the account I closed a year ago in November 2008 (went into the bank personally to close it). I call MCS 3 three times and HSBC customer services 3 times. None of them could give me a bloody clue of what they are charging me for. HSBC said they couldn't recover information from the closed account (the thrid time, the staff hung up on me). MCS said they only knew it has something to do with outstanding balance and said my account closed in May 2009. I left UK the day after I closed my account and never returned since (which I'm curtain I haven't got any debt then), so was it my ghost who closed my account in May 2009? How has this debt sprung from out of nowhere. Just because I'm a foreigner and has already left UK, is this making me an easy target for them, to force me to pay debt I didn't know of? Is this a new of begging for money or what? My sister told me, if they harass me too much I could just bring a lawsuit in. But for me, I'd like to see them flying over to my country and knock on my door too.

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See my reply on your other thread blackrabbit ! :D

Nemo me impune lacessit

 

 

Advice & opinions given by johnnymitch are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

 

If you think I've helped you please feel free to tickle my star :-D

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  • 1 month later...

Hi there, I've just been listening with interest at the phone calls to MCS. I've had some good advise from another member on another thread but I thought I'd ask the guys on here as well.

HSBC are chasing me for £2000 worth of CC debt which I already told them I couldn't afford to pay, but so much for that they demanded it back anyway. So I'm getting threatening letters from MCS.

The other member told me to send a letter with a postal order requesting some info (I didn't quite understand it) they hadn't got the letter up to yesterday.

I am going to pay the amount but can't afford to pay the majority till the end of the month. (I'm having to borrow it from a friend)

I have a couple of questions:

My mum thinks I should call and explain that I will pay them a lump sum now and the majority by the end of the month (But the other guy told me not to call them under any circumstances) Should I call?

Can they charge me more than the £2200 I owe in interest? Will I owe them or will my account go back to HSBC (They wont discuss it with me)

I am worried and confused about all the stuff I have heard about them not being governed by the British rules and regs.

It's very confusing that they are owned by HSBC yet are threatening me with Bailiffs!

do you think I should send the partial payment and a covering letter as oppose to ringing them?!

Somone helpppppp me pllllllease! :confused:

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