Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

HSBC announces end to Welsh speaking customer service line

08 Nov 2023 4 minute read
HSBC Building – Nick Garrod (CC 2.0)

Emily Price

HSBC has announced it will no longer be offering a Welsh speaking customer service phone line because of a “steady decline” in its usage.

The bank said that after an in depth review it found the Welsh speaking line was “no longer being fully utilised” with only 22 calls each day – compared to 18,000 call to its English-speaking lines.

From January 15th 2024, only English-speaking agents will be available to answer any customers banking with HSBC.

Alyn and Deeside MS, Jack Sergeant said the announcement highlighted the need to establish a community bank for Wales.

Managing Director of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC UK, Oliemata O’Donoghue wrote to Mr Sergeant laying out the reasons why the decision had been taken.

Ms O’Donoghue said: “We recognise that for some customers, banking in Welsh is still their preference, so we can arrange a call-back in Welsh, within 3 working days, to help with any questions they may have.

“Whilst we understand it is not their first choice, we have confirmed that all customers are able to bank in English. We appreciate change can be difficult, and therefore we have created an outreach programme to support specific customers who hold vulnerabilities or call frequently.”

“This will involve a personalised call to advise them of this change, how they can continue to contact us, including alternative ways to bank with us, and addressing any specific concerns they may have.

Ms O’Donoghue added that HSBC provides Welsh speaking colleagues in half of its Welsh branches with some of branches in Wales offering a full translation service.

Responding to the news, Jack Sergeant told Nation.Cymru: “I’m extremely disappointed that HSBC have announced they will no longer be offering a Welsh speaking customer service phone line.

“Cymraeg is a living language and preferred choice for many when accessing banking services.

“This is another example of high street banks letting Welsh citizens down. Once again this highlights the need to establish a Community Bank for Cymru.”

Welsh Language Commissioner, Efa Gruffudd Jones said her office had been in contact with HSBC to offer advice on how to recruit Welsh speakers, but there was “no evidence” that this had happened.

“Disappointing”

She said: “It is disappointing to hear that HSBC intends to discontinue the Welsh language telephone service and the offer of a call back within three working days in Welsh means that they are offering a sub-standard service to Welsh speakers.

 “While presenting evidence to the Senedd committee this week I expressed my frustration with the banking sector in terms of meaningful action and unfortunately this has proven my point.

“In our discussions with HSBC we have been offering advice on how to recruit Welsh speakers and encouraging them to better promote the Welsh language line but there is no evidence that this has happened which again is disappointing.

“I have already written to HSBC asking to meet urgently to discuss the situation in the hope that they will be prepared to consider other options, rather than closing this important service.”

“Lifeline”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Welsh Language Minister, Samuel Kurtz MS described the customer service line had been a “lifeline” for Welsh speaking customers.

He said: “The decision by HSBC to no longer provide a Welsh language customer service line from January is bitterly disappointing. With high street banks shutting their branches, leaving holes in our high streets, telephone banking has been a lifeline for a number of customers.

“The offer of a ‘call back’ service, which could take up to three days, for those wanting to use the Welsh language is a bit of a token gesture from a bank which at one time claimed to be the ‘the world’s local bank’.

“For a bank operating globally in a number of languages, I strongly urge HSBC to reconsider their decision and to keep Welsh-language provision available for customers as and when they need it.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
23 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago

I thought there was now legal parity as between the use of English and of Welsh throughout England and Wales? Is this not an obvious breach of the law?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Yes… But you soon learn that some languages are more equal than others… As far as I’m aware it’s only HMRC that provides a Welsh language service throughout the UK, though TV Licencing is also pretty good in providing a proper Welsh language service. I guess though, they do want our money, so maybe they are just canny enough to not give us a reason not to pay… The DWP are also very good, and in my experience, their Welsh speaking Jobcentre staff are not just human, but also humane – almost a different breed to the English speaking equivalent… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Padi Phillips
Riki
Riki
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Absolutely they are, and we will now see how truly committed the Welsh (Really British) are to the language. Don’t hold your breath thou!

Llewz
Llewz
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

To my knowledge, no such law exists in the private sector.

‘Welsh” Labour said no to it.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
6 months ago

When is Banc Cambria going to be established, so I can transfer my pennies?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago
Reply to  Rhufawn Jones

It was decided quietly earlier on this year that under the present cost of living crisis, or some other such nonsense, that it wasn’t the right time to set up Banc Cambria. Utter b******s if you ask me; if not now, then when? Is there ever a good time to set up such a badly needed instution?

I too was looking forward to moving my pennies to Banc Cambria.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
6 months ago

If I banked with hsbc, this would be reason to switch to a different bank. There should be a boycott of hsbc!

Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
6 months ago

To be honest from my experience of using the English line it would be easier if some of the respondents spoke fluent British English. The decline in use likely reflects the fact that most banks are virtual. The tradition HSBC had of being one of if not the most Wales orientated bank has likely gone with the decline in the economic importance of agriculture and with branch closures. HSBC were early on using telephone banking with First Direct. I hear from a friend that that service has declined to almost unusable.

Rob
Rob
6 months ago

Scotland has its own banks – Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale etc, as does Northern Ireland – Allied Irish, Bank of Ireland, Ulsterbank etc.

Yet Wales does not because we are labelled as ‘England and Wales.’ Non-Welsh banks will have very little interest in Welsh-specific needs ie the Welsh language, and rural towns across Wales

Yet the Tories would have us believe that the ‘England and Wales single jurisdiction’ serves Wales well?

Riki
Riki
6 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Yeah, all designed to make people perceive the two nations as one. 21st century version of “For Wales, See England”

Maglocunos
Maglocunos
6 months ago

That’s HSBC off the Xmas card list then!

Time for Llywodraeth Cymru to introduce a comprehensive parity language act in ALL domains, and that means banks, and American supermarkets and massive UK retailers etc. etc. etc. not just public authorities.

If Aldi and Lidl CAN DO IT, what the hell is preventing Morrisons and M&S from doing the same.

.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago
Reply to  Maglocunos

Aldi and Lidl go some way to satisfying the needs of Welsh speakers, and on some of their products, butter and, their unique and very special Welsh speaking eggs! (Wyau Cymraeg, which seem to be temporarily unavailable) but really all products should have fully bilingual labelling.

wyau-cymraeg
Nia James
Nia James
6 months ago

I used to have a HSBC account but closed it a few years back as I noticed they were becoming less user-friendly in pushing for online banking and there was certainly a degree of anti-Welsh sentiment among some staff (my brother was once told in one of their Cardiff branches that he should not speak Welsh as some members of staff couldn’t understand it). Welsh Government, and all Senedd Members, should state today that they will boycott HSBC. WG also needs to renew its efforts to promote Welsh banking institutions.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago

It’s not just banks that are playing fast and loose where the rights of Welsh speakers are concerned. I’m pretty consistent in my use of Welsh language services, but it’s a constant battle, and I’m sure I’m not alone in being constantly frustrated when attempting to use services where the body concerned has a statutory duty to provide services in Welsh to those that demand them. Cardiff County Council is terrible.I access all services through Cymraeg, and as often as not I will get English responses through the post when I’ve sent in a Welsh language application form, or written… Read more »

Riki
Riki
6 months ago

Well there you go folks. The people at HSBC believe The British language is fair game to be eradicated.

karl
karl
6 months ago

No worse than Transport for Wales that no longer uses both languages. Avoid both I say

Rob
Rob
6 months ago
Reply to  karl

In my opinion TFW to abandon the Welsh language would be much worse. They are supposed to be providing a service that is Wales specific and in which many are dependent on

Peter
Peter
6 months ago

Well i reckon the 22 people who ring the HSBC Welsh helpline each day must be the same 22 people who watch some of the S4C programmes that they broadcast each day.
It makes you wonder what percentage people that receive official paper work read or fill out the Welsh section of the bi-lingual forms that cost a fortune to produce each year.
Sorry to say although I and my family can all converse in Welsh that we seldom do. And to those of you out there that think we should be beaten for not doing so. Tough.

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter

I bet that you got quite aroused writing that nonsense. Go back to jerking yourself off. At least we don’t get to know you’re doing that

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago

Some weeks ago I failed to get a Welsh language telephone service from HSBC despite attempting 3 times in 2 days. Each time I got connected to a call centre in India and to make matters worse they failed to execute my request correctly. Some service ! One of the staff I spoke to wasn’t even aware that the Welsh language existed. Yesterday’s e-mail confirmed my worst suspicions.

Erisian
Erisian
6 months ago

Let’s face it, they’d sonner not speak to anyone. The want us to do everything on-line via an app or webpage.
You can only speak to them after negotiating an automated switchboard and an inevitable wait. There is always a queue.Due to the “unexpected volume of requests”.
You’d think by now they’s have expected that, but no. They know you have little option and that due to a cartel of indiference, all the other banks are just as bad.

Last edited 6 months ago by Erisian
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago
Reply to  Erisian

I doubt it’s a cartel of indifference,far simpler than that – sheer bloody greed! Call centres located in India are hugely cheaper.

Rob
Rob
6 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Any company that outsources call centres overseas will not get any business from me.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.