Saturday, January 03, 2009

HSBC Merida - Possibly the World's Worst Bank?

HSBC - the worlds' worst bank? Maybe not. But they are definitely in the running.

Besides implementing such shoddy hiring practices that have resulted in the lower primates appearing at the front lines of the banking industry in Merida, they have provided me with this latest gem in banking logic that defines Mexico for me (the admittedly neurotic foreigner) in all its Kafka-esque wonder.

Having sold the Yellow Car, the neurotic foreigner aka William Lawson, aka me, finds himself with enough cash for a down payment but not enough for a complete whole car; neither a decent enough used one nor a completely new one. So I figure, what the hell, I have had an account with HSBC for the last six years, with HSBC, faithfully - and supposedly - building up a relationship on both a business and personal level with this 'world's local bank' (their slogan, I didn't make this up)

So I visited a reputable used car lot (I found one), found a reasonably decent used vehicle that I liked and was told that I could apply for credit for the balance through one of two banks:
  • Scotiabank: the only Canadian bank with the balls and the vision to invest and remain in the country after Salinas re-privatized the Mexican banks some years ago (it's a long story; Canadian banks were very strong, the Mexican government was giving banks away at a way-below market prices, the markets were already established and potential for growth huge), this Canadian Mexican hybrid bank - Scotiabank bought Inverlat - is very aggressive in the car loan market, and offers very competitive (the best actually) interest and insurance rates, or;

  • HSBC: the world's local bank. Indeed. Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation has taken the term 'local' to a level perhaps previously unheard of in the banking industry. They are also aggressive in the car financing area, actually offering a lower rate of interest than their main competitor, Scotiabank. Where they get you though, is in the insurance. They insure through ING and over the period of a longer term, the difference in the insurance will make a big difference in the amount of money paid on the loan.
I decided on HSBC, figuring it would be quicker, since they already had all my info on file, such as income and ID information which would make the application a breeze, while at Scotiabank I was a complete stranger.

It did however strike me as strange and rather onerous that they would ask me for photocopies of my passport, FM3, proof of domicilio (photocopy of my telephone bill). Didn't they already have all this on file? Well, perhaps they need this because I am a foreigner and something might have changed, although a quick glance at the activity in my bank account would ascertain, that no, there was plenty of movimiento, money coming and and going out daily, as in any business.

In addition to the above, it turned out that my bank needed a co-signer/guarantor, because I was, after all a foreigner. Make a note of that. At this point of the application, I AM A FOREIGNER. So, along with everything else, a photocopy of my wife's ID and a completed application signed by her as co-signer of the loan. I have the bank account, the debit card and a credit card issued by this very same bank, that I have had the misfortune to max out this past September October November thank you very much and only pay the interest on.

But, I need a car and don't have that last chunk of cash. So I am thinking: whatever.

My income information, I was assured, would be pulled from 'el sistema' so it wasn't necessary to provide photocopies of three months of banks statements. Well thank goodness for that. As my new friend Lynne would say, with just a touch of sarcasm 'happy dance'. Not.

Later on in the day, after not receiving the promised phone call, I managed to contact the 'ejecutivo' who informed me that 'chispas' (literal translation: sparks, but actually a euphemism for 'chinga' which is much worse and considered a 'bad' word) there is a problem.

The problem is that the ejecutivo needs an ID with my second last name on it.

This is where the fun begins. As you may or may not know, in Mexico, people use their second last names ie mothers' maiden names. Thus, William Lawson becomes William Lawson Walker, for example, Walker being my mothers' clan, who also became famous in their own right in the world of scotch - you may have heard of them. Whether or not this is a good thing or a bad thing, I will leave for another day, but that's the way it is here. Unfortunately, it's not the way it is in Canada, the USA, Germany or most anywhere else...

So my bank, the bank I have been dealing with for the last SIX years, has me on file with both my last names. At some point, upon opening the account, they asked me what was my mothers maiden name and I told them. At no point did I show them an ID with my mothers maiden name on it because such an ID DOESN'T EXIST.

When I applied for a credit card, they issued me one, with the offending second last name ON THE CARD. When I applied for an increase in the limit on said credit card, it was approved, OFFENDING SECOND LAST NAME AND ALL.

Now, it appears that they need some sort of ID to validate this strange last name that has somehow come to their attention. After SIX years. This is the bank I have been dealing with for the last six years. They have my personal and business accounts.

My business is registered with the Mexican version of the IRS, called the SHCP, under my name which is my FULL name and that includes my mothers maiden name. So when the fine HSBC ejecutivo offered to 'remove' the offending last name I kindly reminded him that such an action would cause some serious problems with the federal tax authorities, he had to concede that yes, that would be a problem and repeated, in a hopeful but sad little voice 'chispas' couldn't I find an ID that had my mothers' maiden name on it?

........................... to be continued ..........................


Theresa in Mèrida said...

Yeah, HSBC is the bank that wanted a copy of our original contract to change the address on our account. Husband asked if we needed it to close the account, the answer was yes, so he asked what about to take everything out of the account (but 3 pesos I think)? Then they magically discovered that they could make a copy of our original contract!!! We were so happy to close that account. Then there is Bancomer, who have managed to lose our fideicomiso paperwork twice!!!
My suggestion is to produce your birth certificate (if you have it) which if it's like mine has your mother's maiden name on it. Then shrug.
It could be worse, if your BH had applied her name is probably totally "wrong" on all her ID.

William Lawson said...

Just between us, and the rest of the world that reads this :) the country of my birth didn't issue me with a birth certificate if you can believe that; the preferred method rather was to register births in a family register that remained in the hands of the head of the family. This is how my dad explained it to me. The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems. Anyway. I have no birth certificate. Perhaps I was hatched, not birthed in the traditional sense. And therein lies the problem!

Theresa in Mèrida said...

If you think you are having problems with HSBC, read what is going on in Isla with them!


William Lawson said...