HSBC has certainly kicked a hornets nest by messing with our village! Protests are appearing from many corners, and plans are now being made to create a more collective approach. Continuing its excellent approach to customer care, HSBC would not reveal the time of regional manager’s branch visit earlier this week. We also understand that the manager in question has also declined an invitation to lunch with a few concerned customers.
Last Saturday, Helen White and friends set out a ‘Protest Pitch’ outside the HSBC Bank doors in Milford on Sea and collected many signatures on a petition. It was quite exciting to see a constant crowd queuing to sign, in an attempt to get their voice heard by ‘Mr & Mrs big bonus’ in HSBC.
To date the Advertiser & Times have run a story and seem very willing to visit the village to report on our guerrilla activities against this faceless, bonus ridden, banking giant. Thanks guys. Wave Radio were outside the bank at around 7.10am on Wednesday morning, where they met Helen & friends with their banner, and conducted an interview with Hugh Whitlock, our village solicitor, who was accompanied by some other early rising protesters. We also understand that South Today are taking an interest in the story. A number of local people have contacted the national press and the story is now appearing on various websites as the news spreads. The village’s other community website http://www.milfordonsea.com/ has also covered the story.
Another local villager, Jan England, has been around nearly all of the village shops to find details of all those who bank with our HSBC branch. She is also contacting local clubs & organising to establish the same.
Judit, who manages the Village Charity Shop, has reported that her ‘in-shop’ petition is now ‘getting huge’, and is urging people to come and sign it. She also writes: "As the HSBC were only willing to meet with individual callers to discuss the closure today (Wednesday), I took the opportunity to call in and meet with Julian Collinson, Regional Service Manager, South West Region for the HSBC. He confirmed the "party line" on the closure, but was unable to comment on why the bank is keeping open the Brockenhurst branch and shutting the only bank in our unique village. Mr Collinson can be emailed on email@example.com. He has promised to pass on all of our many comments to head office, but I am sure he would love to hear from you all individually, so get typing and make his day."
We also know of a number of account holders who have personally written to HSBC expressing their displeasure. At this stage of course they have only received ‘Automated replies’, I am sure in time the ‘comedy letter department’ at HSBC will construct a formal patronising reply.
BBC News (Hampshire & Isle of Wight) have reported on our story, and interestingly also report that the HSBC branch in Findon Valley will shut on 10 September, apparently because not enough customers use it. HSBC (which recently announced profits of £7bn) have promised to help customers make alternative arrangements for managing their finances. (I bet that doesn’t included helping transfer accounts to other banks.) Maggie Winter of Findon Valley Residents' Association said: "The usage isn't actually as low as HSBC would like us to believe”. Does this sounds familiar? Maggie continues; "They were the last bank standing here and five years ago they made a promise that if they were in that position they would never ever close and now they are totally reneging on that undertaking." Hmmm, they made the same promises when Lloyds left our village. HSBC have also given the same garbage excuses to them, as they have to us. Nowhere can I find them revealing the real truth, which of course is, ‘we want to make more money and we couldn’t care a less about the problems it causes you’.
If you would like to get involved in the current protests…...
Saturday (Tomorrow): The petition will be available to sign outside of HSBC or in the Village Charity shop.
Monday: The Parish Council meeting has the bank closure on the agenda. Everyone welcome to attend. Venue: Monday evening at 6.30 in the Village Hall, Park Road. The bank representatives have been invited to attend, but there has been no response so far.
Friday (Today): Helen White and Mark Cummings have a meeting planned with Desmond Swayne to discuss position. They also plan to coordinate a meeting with HSBC at the village hall in the following weeks. (Should they be willing to attend)
Future Public Action Group Meeting: There is talk of bringing everyone together to create a collective action plan, but no news on this so far. Will let you know where & when if it happens.
You can also post comment below, or on a Facebook page started by Karen. We will let you have the address when we know it.
We have heard that some replies are now been received from complaint letters to HSBC. One reiterates the patronising statement made to customers in the letter informing them of the closure. Amusingly, it says at the end ‘that if they don’t hear back, they will presume that the person is satisfied with their response to their complaint’. I guess this process just continues until someone get bored and gives in.
The HSBC Regional Services Manager, Julian G Collinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) who visited this week and met with a few customer individually, has also replied to some comments, saying: “Thank you for your contact, as promised I am collating the various feedback I received yesterday from many customers, and will contact you again as matters become clearer around the provision of an ATM. The decision to close Milford on Sea branch was a very difficult one to take in such challenging times and I do not dismiss the genuine concerns expressed to me by residents and business owners in the village. I do appreciate the feelings of the local community, equally a decision has been taken by ourselves which is not reversable. The issue of reduced hours is on reflection impractical, however I will be happy to pass on the thoughts to my colleagues for due consideration, although my personal view having reflected on this is that if we were to consider reducing hours this would not have the desired affect upon the contribution to the bank's business from this particular branch. Commercially the decision to close is sound, but having said that I understand the impact, emotionally and financially, upon customers as a result.”
Dear Julian G, Your reply to a friend gave me great comfort, as for a change the spelling errors in that letter are not mine! Interestingly, I have not once seen in any HSBC correspondence suggestions that the branch is losing money, so it is fair to assume it is not. Neither do you mention the value of the deposits which are held by HSBC customers in the village. I suspect with over 5000 people and some serious wealth it may be a nice few quid. We have heard that HSBC consider our branch ‘under-used’. This is of course not quantified by HSBC. How long does the queue have to be before a branch is considered ‘well-used’? I am sure we could call in a bit more often if you wanted us to. I would love to see the statistics on ‘Customers served per head of staff’ in comparison to other branches, but guess you will not publish them to us.
As we have been told that the decision to close the HSBC Milford on Sea branch was made after ‘careful consideration’, who forgot about the ATM Cash machine then? I know it is outside, but I guess the ‘grey suits’ knew the branch had one. I am unclear what you mean by; ‘and will contact you again as matters become clearer around the provision of an ATM’. Does that mean; ‘Ooops, we forgot about that, and need to come up with an idea’, or ‘We have already decided that this is going anyway, but by giving false hope we may quieten the silly villagers down a bit’. Being pedantic, we don’t actually want a ‘provision’ of an ATM, we just want to keep the one we have.
Your Corporate Responsibility pages on your website are quite humorous, there are quite a few that tickled me, but the best one is: “For HSBC, corporate social responsibility, or 'CSR', means managing our business responsibly and sensitively for long-term success. Our goal is not, and never has been, profit at any cost because we know that tomorrow's success depends on the trust we build today”. Absolutely hilarious!! Who wrote this then Julian? Whoever they are, they must have forgotten to tell everyone involved in deciding to shut our branch. Perhaps the ‘knife wielding grey suits’ could have a chat with the 'nice & cuddly' directors that wrote your ‘feel good policy’ and see how this fits in with your closure decision. If you would like to sell tickets for this meeting I am happy to promote these for you. (Returning all profits to HSBC of course) I suspect many of us in the village would love to see senior HSBC blokes talking to themselves, as they try to work out why they say one thing, and then do exactly the other.
I know from previous correspondence that HSBC think we are a bit stupid, and I guess you may be right, because I just can’t get my head round how HSBC still enjoys tax payer underwritten inter-bank loans, the usage of the special liquidity scheme and the benefits of quantitative easing, and then after posting £7billion in profits, decide to attack a community in Milford on Sea simply because they are not delivering you enough profit.
Our local shopkeepers & businesses know all about ‘striving for a fair profit, whilst providing a service to the community’. Should HSBC ever rethink their corporate ‘profit only’ strategy, I am sure we could arrange a bus load of small business people from the village to mentor at one of your management training programmes. We would happily cover our own costs if you felt you were running a bit short of cash. We would also bring our own flasks of coffee and sandwiches so that we did not waste any of the profits destined for bonuses. In fact, whilst we were travelling to you we might also find a bank to pay in the shop takings, so sounds like a win-win’ to me. Perhaps, when you get it on ‘your radar’ & are ‘thinking outside of the box’, you can get everyone ‘onside’ & ‘going forward’, to ‘run the idea up the flagpole.’
Some in our community feel that we should appeal to HSBC’s better nature. My opinion differs, as I have seen no sign that HSBC have any intention of considering us in any way. I see HSBC as insensitive, arrogant, hypocritical, selfish and greedy. Have nice day.