I'm thinking about whether I want to respond to an HSBC message that I received today.
I recently transferred USD from Hong Kong to Vietnam (both are my personal accounts). I transferred USD500 and HSBC charged me USD45 + HKD65 (not sure if I got the HKD transfer fee correct) for the transfer.
I was very confused and asked HSBC about the fees.
Initial response from HSBC: they didn't take the fee, check with Vietnam
So I checked with the Vietnamese bank and they said that they don't charge any incoming fees
Second response from HSBC: they did take the fee, but it was one of the remitting branches and not HSBC Hong Kong
So when transferring money, HSBC provides two options regarding fees. One option is that the recipient (ie: the bank account in Vietnam I believed - and it turns out they take it during transit) pays. The second option is that the transfer (ie: my HK HSBC bank account pays). During this transfer (was a test transfer for me), I had selected the first option, that the recipient pays. So I was confused to why HSBC had charged my HK bank account fees.
Third response from HSBC:
a) recipient pays allows HSBC to charge my HSBC HK payment with remittance fees during their routing of the payment and the amount is outside of their control, hence no information on the transfer fees
b) transferer pays means that HSBC will not charge any transfer fees
At this point I was slightly annoyed (these are strange options, of course I would always pick the "no fee transfer" had I known) and told them that they hadn't labeled things clearly and asked for a refund. Obviously they said they weren't going to refund me. So I asked them to escalate my case because based on what they've told me, their labeling doesn't make sense.
So the high ups reviewed my account and refunded the charges and told me they would prepare a statement explaining what happened. 1 week after the refund, I received a message that they had drafted their explanation to me but needed 2 weeks to clear the explanation with an even higher up. 3 weeks after the refund, they sent me this:
2) explanation that TT involves many banks, of which any bank can charge any fee
3) that they take note of my expectations of their labeling and they're taking it "very seriously" and it's been relayed to the relevant department for improvement
4) that they're acting on a best effort basis
5) they mention again that fees are not under their control (implying that they don't have a responsibility to inform the client of any actual related transfer fees?)
6) stress that this is a goodwill measure
So my questions are:
What stops HSBC from sending my payments around the world and incurring a ton of fees?
Is there anything that stops HSBC from sending payments back and forth between their own banks in different countries?
WTF do they give two options, which ultimately boil down to: we charge fees on the transfer, we don't charge fees on the transfer - is there no legal requirement to label transfers in this manner with reference to the actual fees charged?
My understanding is that they're not admitting to any legal fault, everything they do is for customer satisfaction and not because they have done anything wrong. I'm not familiar with the rules within banking, but the way they've presented things doesn't seem kosher/logical. Was wondering if anyone could provide more context/insight.
It's not like HSBC wanted to refund the fees. I had to message them and also contact the relationship and branch managers, all of whom refused to refund the charges as it was outside of their control. In the apology one of the things they apologized for was for the multiple refusals to offer me a refund. It was only until I escalated that my charges were refunded and then they re-escalated (whatever that means?) to provide me with their explanation.
edit: and this was one of those matter of principles which is why I'm even considering sending a follow up to understand the situation better. Paying 10%+ on a transfer in a low rate environment seems ridiculous to me.