The continuous downfall of customer service

140221 Businessman Cover His Head With Bag

Customer service, what is that you might ask, if you live in the UAE? Don’t ask me, I am personally fed up of HSBC Middle East and Axa Gulf currently and their customer service.

My gripe with HSBC is for several reasons; most recently

a. they stopped me using my savings account as the internet banking department had not bothered to update their system with my new visa despite giving it to the bank weeks before.

b. This week they rejected a cheque as they said my signature was incorrect.

I was so incensed that I complained until they reversed the charges for a returned cheque. Ranting on Twitter resulted in all their customers complaining of the same issue; every time they wrote a cheque. A company I happened to chat to also said all customers issuing them with an HSBC cheque get rejected. Every time. We can’t all be incredibly stupid and incompetent to sign our cheques incorrectly every time. But HSBC thinks we are and will charge us for this supposed stupidity by us all.

I only had my issues sorted out as I ranted on Twitter. Their social media team straight away called me, listened to my rants and got it sorted out within a few hours. Calling HSBC customer service results in you talking to a robot in India who reads from a script and tells you that you are wrong and will have to go to a branch to sort out the issue.The other issue calling on the phone is that the line is alway crackly, which results in the customer service person hanging up on you and telling you to redial the number.   That means you have to redial and go through their millions of options before you get through to  a crackly voice again. And if you forget your personal banking number..well let’s not start on that nightmare.

With my internet banking issue, I went to the branch they told me to call internet banking. Internet banking did nothing. And don’t even bother contacting them online as they will never reply. Ever.

You might say why not change banks. I would love to but I can’t for now due to various reasons. The main reason is that my car loan is with them. If I change banks, I will have to provide them with cheques, which they will then reject. It’s not worth the hassle.  Also why should I  change? I have been a customer of theirs since I moved here. Should they not be providing their customers with great service being “the local bank” and also the second biggest in the world. Ok, I don’t have millions in the account, but I still put money in their bank for them to gain interest on. I never seemed to get this much crap with the bank in the UK.

I could complain to Central Bank about HSBC, but I fear that as the issue has been sorted they will not be interested.

The issue with AXA was due to two problems:

1. I was advised to obtain one medical insurance, which turned out to be completely useless. It was immediately cancelled by the lovely woman at the Wafi branch, when she realised the issue. I cancelled the incorrect policy in October.

2. A medical claim I made was rejected for a refund as they claimed it was a pre-condition which I had not disclosed. My doctor wrote to them to say it wasn’t a precondition. Still rejected.

c. They kept delivering other peoples cards to my address.

The cancelled policy should have been refunded within 6 weeks. After ranting again on Twitter, their social media manager seeing the complaint, called me (somehow finding my number despite me not providing it on twitter and also I am still wondering how they linked me to my twitter account….), apologised  and got a refund issued within 2 days. It took a Twitter rant to get the refund.

The claim issue has been talked about on the phone and by email. The customer service rep did a great job at stalling with responses for 5 months and when responding would copy and paste why my claim was rejected. I had promises of managers calling me to discuss the matter, but I had nothing. Notwithstanding the medical claim not being a previous condition; I had also been with AXA for 3 years with my previous company. They had made it very clear they had all my medical details so why do you have to disclose them when you renew if they know your history already. Additional administrative burden on the customer and excuse to not pay any claims.

I received an apology only from the social media manager. Nothing from the medical insurance department, until I sent them a sarcastic email asking if they received training on manners.

I have three policies with AXA but all three will be moved to other insurance companies when they expire. It may be easier and also cheaper in some cases to get cover via AXA here, but their behaviour has left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I had an issue with my property insurance a few months ago and it took 5 calls to get that sorted.

They only reason my issues were resolved (or nearly resolved) was because of social media. Conventional methods of trying to sort out the issues resulted in being completely ignored or messed about.

It gets tiring having to lose your temper all the time with companies here. I am at a loss of why so many of them treat us customers so badly. I have had no positive news from using the Ahlan Dubai initiative by the government. One manager in Zara once threw the Ahlan Dubai notice board at me, laughed and told me to call them. This was when Zara wouldn’t refund me for a dress I was returning within the time frame.  He knew he would get away with stealing my money. And he did win.

Customers are laughed at, ignored and treated like idiots. If we could have a meeting with the Ahlan Dubai people or faith that this system works, I believe we could finally start having good service from service providers and shops. But for now we will continue to have our blood pressure rise.

Note: The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) has an “Ahlan Dubai” helpline for complaints and suggestions, tel 600-545555 in the UAE. Or email consumerrights@dubaided.gov.ae, or visit one of their offices. Tell  me if it works for you.

If you want to complain about a bank in the UAE you can complete the online form and they call you within 24 hours of submission. The issue is resolved within a week by the bank; if not when Central Bank check up on your issue with you after a week you can tell them the bank are still not sorting out your issue.

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