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My first claim against HSBC - Settled


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Now that this claim has been settled, here is a summary of the whole thread, and all the steps I took. Feel free to read the whole thing if you wish:

For the benefit of others, a brief summary of the Spiceskull v HSBC action to recover bank charges, with the help and advice of Consumer Action Group.

 

I have had an account with HSBC for 24 years (opened when it was Midland Bank) - and in that time I attempted to run the account properly. However, life being what it is, there were many periods when I incurred overdrafts and cancelled direct debits, and penalty charges were ruthlessly applied to my account.

 

Many times I contacted HSBC to have these unfair penalty charges refunded, but all my requests were flatly refused. I heard about Consumer Action Group from MSE (Money Saving Expert), and understood that the unfair bank charges were unlawful, and that I would be able to use the courts to reclaim the right, and have the bank charges refunded.

 

After reading around the CAG forums, the steps I needed to take were clear:

 

Step One: The first step in getting penalty charges refunded was submitting a DPA request to HSBC. This involved the bank providing me with a full transaction history on my account, and specificaly highlighting all instances of when unfair penalty charges had been applied, as well as any evidence of manual intervention in my account, in respect of unfair bank charges

 

Step Two: Once my transaction history had arrived (in the form of statements) I was able to calculate the total value of all bank charges applied to my account. Over a period of six years there had been more than £3,000 worth of penalty charges applied, and with the help of Consumer Action Group I was determined to get a refund.

 

Step Three: Step three was to send a preliminary request for a refund from HSBC, outlining my beliefs that the unfair penalty charges were unlawful, and that I expected a full refund. This was met with a standard letter of refusal by HSBC, who maintained that the unfair bank charges were lawful, fair and transparent.

 

Step Four: A second letter to HSBC, a letter before action, giving the bank the opportunity to reconsider their position regarding bank charges, and putting them on notice that I would raise a claim in court if the penalty charges were not refunded within fourteen days.

 

Step Five: Again HSBC refused, and therefore I raised my claim. Along with the claim form, requesting a full refund of the unfair penalty charges, I provided a schedule detailing where the unfair bank charges had been applied. My claim also included a request for interest, pursuant to s.69 of the County Courts Act in respect of bank charges.

 

Step Six: HSBC had 14 days to acknowledge my claim, which they duly did. The next thing I heard from HSBC was a letter from DG Solicitors. The letter indicated that HSBC believed that the penalty charges were fair, transparent, and fully defensible in court. Therefore HSBC would not be refunding any unfair penalty charges to my account.

 

However, DG Solicitors advised me that HSBC was mindful of the management time and costs associated with litigation in respect of unfair bank charges, they were prepared to make a payment for the full amount, representing the bank charges applied, and requesting that the settlement remain confidential.

 

Step Seven: I wrote back to DG Solicitors, informing them that the offer made by HSBC was not satisfactory. I fully expected the refund of penalty charges to be unconditional, and that I would therefore seek to recover the unfair penalty charges in court. Two days later I received another letter, advising me that HSBC would be crediting my account with the full amount, in respect of unfair bank charges applied to my account.

 

The moral of the story is simple - the banks do not want to defend bank charges in court, and therefore they will settle all claims before divulging the true cost of penalty charges.

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

 

Edited by Spiceskull
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All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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Continued...I requested my DPA/Statement information last Monday, by post, after my failure to download statement info from my online account.

 

Seven days later I am still waiting for some communication from the bank "...why do you want this info - are you going to request a refund...? (LOL)" although I notice that I have been charged £10 for my request (applied last Wednesday)

 

It doesn't matter now (in terms of my claim) as I was eventually able to access online statements, although I WILL report them if the information isn't forthcoming...

 

Do you know what really pi**es me off - whenever I have been into the branch for anything, I have always been turned down by someone who wasn't even born when I opened the account at that very branch...although in all fairness there was a solitary instance when the young lad was very helpful and polite indeed. I would imagine that he is now the manager receiving my refund requests...(punishment for giving good customer service...?)

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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Advice sought:

 

In anticipation of a reply from my bank regarding my refund request, I am drafting my second letter. My intention is to include the following, and would like advice on it's relevance:

 

Again, I would draw your attention to the terms of the contract, which you agreed to at the time that I opened my account. It is an implied term of that contract that you would conduct yourselves lawfully and in a manner which complies with UK law. It is my belief that the charges you have levied against my account are not lawful, and that they have been applied in an unlawful manner.

 

I therefore charge you with the following:

 

a) To demonstrate that the charges applied are fair and just, and that they accurately reflect the cost to the bank due to my banking activity with you

b) To demonstrate that the charges are lawful, and that they comply with Common Law, Statute Law and recent Consumer Regulations

c) To demonstrate that the charges have been levied against my account in a lawful manner in compliance with the above

I realise that some would argue it makes for verbosity, but all I really want to know is whether this is a fair call or not.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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DPA Request is good value for money...for my tenner I just received all my statements for the last six years - in 10, yes TEN separate envelopes.

 

Now, if it costs £10 to retrieve all that data, and to send ten envelopes, then can they honestly justify £35 for a single letter?

 

And before I am picked up on this, I realise that the two are not related, as the former is a legal requirement. However, if the requirement incurred a substantially large and real cost to the bank, I am sure that the IC would adjust the £10 to reflect this.

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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Correction: I received two years worth of statements (effectively the first two years of my claim). I expect that the rest will follow tomorrow (I feel sorry for postmen/women at the moment...)

 

I read in an earlier post (and believe me, I have used search to try and find it) that someone else only received a part of the DPA request. It was suggested that in not complying fully, the bank had waived it's right to the 40 day period.

 

Can someone either a) confirm that this is correct, or b) point me to the thread concerned. It is my intention to keep pushing the bank to comply, and then make a complaint when they fail to do so, but I do want to have the right ammunition.

 

Thanks.

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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A question for if it does, unexpectedly, end up in court:

 

One of my arguments will follow the line that over the years I have asked the bank to 'explain' my charges, and raised my concerns regarding the continual addition of charges. However, I gave up on that many years ago as it was futile.

 

If I was questioned to explain 'when' I raised concerns, and they were certainly outside of the six year timeframe of my claim, would the bank be able to counter that I was lying, and use records to prove that I had the date wrong:

 

Or would it be the case that the argument focuses ONLY on the disputed timeframe?

 

Thanks.

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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The time at whch you raised concerns is irrelevant. The fact that yu raised them is enough. However, the fact that you raised concernes is not much of an argument. The banks failure to reveal their costs is more of an argument. Coupled to their fiduciary duty towards you which means that they have a duty to be completely straight with you as they know that you are depending on their expertise and integrity is also a useful argument.

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Thanks BF - I just wanted to ensure that I don't get tripped up on a technicality - the concerns were raised, end of story.

 

Regarding the revelation of true costs/charges - I fully intend to make this the key plank of my argument: after all, at no time have I denied breaching my limits, and at no time have I claimed that the bank should not be compensated.

 

These are empty arguments if the bank wants to use them. Over the last couple of weeks I have gathered enough focus and determination from this group to not only set the timetable, but ensure the bank discusses what I want to discuss, not vice versa...

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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Update:

 

Even though the bank has confirmed that my refeund request letter is being handled, lo and behold, a letter turns up informing me that £50 charges and £6.64 interest will be unlawfully levied against my account on 6th April.

 

Oh well, I may just give them a call, and ask which they would prefer: a call to discuss this matter or a letter outlining my indignation and disgust...

 

Am I being soft by giving them a choice...?

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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Have decided on the letter route:

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

I find myself in the position that your actions require my intervention for the third time in the space of a few days. I am seriously reconsidering my view that HSBC has the capacity to act as my fiduciary in a responsible and lawful manner, as implied by the terms and conditions between both parties.

 

This morning I received a statement from HSBC, stating their intent to unlawfully apply penalty charges to my account on 6th April 2006. These charges are to the sum of £50, as well as an interest penalty of £6.64 for the 'privelege' of this unlawful action being undertaken.

 

As you are aware, I have asked you to demonstrate to me that these punitive charges are fair and just, that they are lawful, and that they are being lawfully applied. You have failed to demonstrate this to date, and therefore it is implied by your refusal or inability to supply such demonstration, that these penalties are, indeed, unlawful.

 

***I decided to remove this section of my letter from the board, in the event that there are bank snoopers searching for possible lines of defence. If anyone would like to know the missing text, please PM me - Mr Skull!***

 

In view of my first paragraph, and considering your apparent incompetence to act as my fiduciary in a lawful manner, I will start to consider a course of action whereby I may seek redress for all the inconvenience you have caused me.

 

Yours faithfully,

Mr Skull.

Any advice before I send it?

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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Another question that I would appreciate advice on.

 

The way I see it is that the banks have 4 options:

 

1 Pay up on first request (ha ha ha)

2 Allow court action, and then default

3 Allow court action, and then settle before hearing

4 Allow court action, and contest (unlikely)

 

In the case of two and three, is there a legitimate route to compel the bank into the court? It would take a brave person to refuse settlement in the case of 3). However, the fact that the bank wanted to settle demonstrates that they really don't want the hearing, and would convince me to compel them to do so even more.

 

On another issue, with so many banks settling/defaulting before the hearing, is there a case for considering that they have wasted the court's time? Not an issue to group members, obviously, but certainly an angle that may make them more inclined to settle when initially asked.

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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If you didn't accept and still took it to court - the judge would not look favourably on you and if in the unlikely event you lost, then the judge would probably award costs to the defendent as you will have wasted their time and the courts.

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DPA Request is good value for money...for my tenner I just received all my statements for the last six years - in 10, yes TEN separate envelopes.

 

Now, if it costs £10 to retrieve all that data, and to send ten envelopes, then can they honestly justify £35 for a single letter?

I can beat that! My postman delivered 78 letters last Friday from Homebase & Argos cards. He was somewhat bemused. Good value at £10 each but the cheques were then credited to the a/cs so in fact it was free. Each envelope had a reply envelope too but not post paid sadly.

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If you didn't accept and still took it to court - the judge would not look favourably on you and if in the unlikely event you lost, then the judge would probably award costs to the defendent as you will have wasted their time and the courts.
That is why I said it would take a brave person to refuse settlement. However, whilst the judge may consider it unfavourably, he/she would still have to hear the case...

 

My point is this: the single fact that this group needs is for a bank to demonstrate, in court, the true cost of issuing these charges. If a bank could be compelled to give this evidence, then the case would be 'won' for everyone.

 

Now whilst I'm not stupid insofar as I would accept a compelling sum in settlement, I believe that if they were to offer my request, I would probably still get it from the judge anyway (all other factors notwithstanding).

 

For me, this isn't really about the money - it's about moral justice. After all, if the role was reversed I believe the bank would try to crucify me.

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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"its", not "it's".

Thanks BW - I did change it before delivery. In my excitement I posted my first draft to the boards...prior to final proofing.

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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An update:

 

Received this message via online secure messaging:

Dear Mr Skull

 

Thank you for your e-message dated 24 March 2006.

 

Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in this response.

 

I am sorry to learn you have felt the need to complain about our service. I appreciate your comments regarding this matter and if you feel you would like to raise your comments in writing, please read our brochure titled 'Listening to your comments' (that old cherry - weren't Midland the listening bank?) which I have sent to you today.

 

If you wish to discuss this matter further, may I suggest that you contact us on 08457 404 404.

 

I trust this clarifies matters.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Mr M Bowden

Manager Customer Credit Services

My response to this cryptic message:

Hi,

 

Not quite sure what you mean by 'complaint' as I remember that I only asked a question.

 

However, as the question has not been answered, would you be so good as to let me know which query this is in response to?

 

a) The identity of Mr Bowden

b) The progress of my initial query to my branch

 

Thanks in advance,

Mr Skull

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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Update:

 

In setting up a parachute account with the Co Op (cashminder account):

 

Andrew Cleverley

Head Of New Business Centre

Given Number: 08457 240 752

Landline Number: 0161 947 7135

 

Calling landline gives an IVR, and then the person on the other end tries to give you the 08457 number. I asked firmly to be transferred, I was, and after 16 minutes (and a quid of phone credit) I now have my account accepted...

 

Andrew had Cleverley made sure he wasn't available personally...!

 

***I also got an admission that there have been a lot of people requesting new accounts lately. My reply? "Really? You do surprise me..."***

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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UPDATE:

Dear Mr Skull,

 

Thank you for your recent enquiry.

 

We are pleased to enclose the information you requested.

 

Blah blah blah

My reply:

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

Thank you for completely ignoring the contents of my previous communication.

 

1st point: I did not, and have not, requested information about your complaints procedure, nor have I asked you to send me the leaflet entitled 'Listening to your comments.' As I did not request this leaflet, I consider it to be junk mail, and DO request that you refrain from sending me similar information in the future.

 

However, I DID request some information and it was this: that you confirm that my initial request for account information, made as a Subject Access Request under the DPA, is being managed with due dilligence, and that you give me a date by which I can expect to receive this information.

 

Clearly you are unable to read communications from your customers, do not undserstand the questions or simply choose to ignore the questions being asked of you. To say that this smacks of ineptitude would be to give HSBC customer relations procedures far too much credit.

 

Therefore I repeat my previous request, and ask that you give me a date by which I can expect to receive the balance of my transaction details. Additionally, I would like confirmation of manual intervention, if this has taken place, or confirmation if it has not.

 

Yours faithfully,

Mr Skull.

Thanks to Bookworm for the flavouring of my reply - I must compliment you on your condiments! :rolleyes:

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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Update:

 

Just received my letter requesting full refund. After a quick read I can see that there are a lot of holes to be picked in their contention that they will not refund a penny...

 

I'm going to read it again, scan it to [email protected], and draft my response to the bank. Oooohhhh...I'm really really going to enjoy this one...

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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Update:

 

A coruscating response sent to:

 

Mr Alan Pretty

Senior Service Quality Officer

HSBC Bank Plc

Arlington Business Centre

Millshaw Park Lane

Leeds

LS11 0PP

 

He is going to wish he hadn't signed his name, turned me down flatly or made the errors that he did. Recorded delivery, should arrive Tuesday, at which point I fully expect a 'phone call...

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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***UPDATE***

 

The charges were applied this morning, so I gave the bank a call. I asked young Duncan to justify the charge, he couldn't, and he was taken aback by my reference to the OFT report (are they so slow to cascade this sort of stuff out to their staff?) He realised that any attempt at explanation would be futile...

 

I told them in no uncertain terms that I would be getting my money back. He said I need to contact head office, and I said 'No' - head office can return my money then THEY can contact me to confirm it...oooh, the power...

 

"In a nutshell Duncan, if the money has not been refunded by 09:30 tomorrow morning, I will raise a claim in the county court at 09:31..."

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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No offense, I understand you are frustrated but you seem quite intent on having an argument with them.. Isn't it easier to just get your money back politely? then slag them off? lol

UPDATE -

 

Claim submitted, HSBC have until May 13th to Acknowledge.

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Initially, I thought the same.

 

But after dealing with the banks (a lot!) I have found that being stern and not taking their cr*p is far more effective.

 

Odd, as I've always been an advocate of being polite, as this will get you further.

 

It really doesn't get you anywhere with the banks sadly.

 

I know that they are only call centre staff and only doing their job, but they do talk down to people and are very condescending.

 

Also, I don't think SpiceSkull was being particulary rude or nasty - just forceful and truthful. Something the banks only know half about.

If you feel that we have helped you, or you would like to help keep this web site running so that others can continue to get their money back, please click the donate button at the top of the forum.

Advice & opinions of Dave, The Bank Action Group and The Consumer Action Group are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability.

Use your own judgment. Seek advice of a qualified insured professional if you have any doubts.

 

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Add me as your friend on FaceBook - I need all the friends I can get :-(

 

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577405151

 

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On the contrary - I was incrdedibly controlled and polite (a very rare thing for me). I was polite to Duncan, called him by his name, explained that I realised that he could not help me in person, and when the call was finished I thanked him for his help - after all, he did say that he would escalate the enquiry internally...

 

But as Dave says - letting them set the agenda is a route to failure and frustration. I prepared my call, explained my request slowly and clearly, and stated my actions if this was not met. There was no bargaining involved - in a nutshell I was offering the bank about 24 hours grace...

 

If I raise the claim I will not get on the phone again - they have had two weeks to deal with this...more than enough time I reckon.

 

To see the steps I took to recover unfair bank charges with the help of Consumer Action Group, please read my thread Spiceskull v HSBC.

Alecto, Magaera et Tisiphone: Nemesis on Earth is come.

 

All advice and opinions given by Spiceskull are personal, and are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group. 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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