Sunday 13 February 2011

How do you know what questions you need to ask?

Part of the preparation of moving to South Africa was to go to HSBC, The World’s International Bank, to open an international bank account, however, they do not have a branch in South Africa, (they have an agent) but they can assist us with off shore banking. Ok so we still need banking in the UK for when we finally sell the car and get tenants in the house, we have to pay for buildings and life insurances. We need to be able to get credit in SA and at some point may require to take our money out of SA as and when we decide to return to the UK.
Account opened, details received for the off shore account so we can pay Peter’s salary into it and all fees discussed and understood, agent will be able to assist in setting up an account in SA, all good so far? no
So we arrive in SA and call the agent for HSBC in Sandton, need to open an account with Nedbank...on your armed with er..visas, passports and copy of Peter’s contract we head off to proof of address, we’re in rented accommodation, paid for by the company, so return the next day with rental’s in the company’s name not ours...return the following day with rental agreement in joint now all paperwork is in place...return to hurdle...joint bank accounts don’t exist and as I don’t have an income Peter has to give permission for me to have my own account...return to bank two days later to collect credit cards, internet banking details, logged in transfer of money from Peter’s account to mine and PIN’s set (five digit PINs here).
Then there was the slight problem with setting up the payments to the offshore...the plan was salary paid into Jersey then set amount transferred back in Nedbank, SA...set fee...arhhh, HSBC don’t have a branch in SA there is an additional charge payable through the correspondence branch in Sandton...who, please note, have not assisted us so far.
So what have HSBC done for us as a Premier customer?....they cancelled my UK card due to unusual activity on the account...mmmmmm we’re in SA, please see above for why THAT isn’t unusual. We’ve made a complaint, but all we got was HSBC informing me that the information we were given was correct, we weren’t disputing that, we were disputing the fact, that not once, at any point did anyone point out to us, that because HSBC do not have a branch in SA, that all the benefits of being a Premier Customer as
1. Discussed in the bank. 2. In the shiny brochures given to us. 3. On the internet.
DO NOT apply if they DO NOT have a branch in the country you are moving to that the account WILL NOT be suitable for us.
So, Yes, we now know what questions to ask, but we didn’t 3 weeks ago when we arrived and we didn’t 6 weeks prior to that when we went to HSBC. So thanks for nothing.