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HSBC condemned for answering just 6% of calls to Welsh helpline in Welsh

29 Nov 2023 2 minute read
Llyr Gruffydd

HSBC’s treatment of the Welsh language has been condemned after it was revealed that just 6% of calls to its Welsh-language helpline were answered in Welsh.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales MS, said the bank’s poor record revealed how it failed to prioritise the Welsh language and that he, as a customer, was very unhappy with the service being provided.

He made his comments to José Carvalho, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC UK, who was appearing before the Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport and International Relations committee to defend the bank’s decision to discontinue its Welsh-language helpline.

Earlier this month, HSBC announced it will no longer be offering a Welsh speaking customer service phone line, claiming there had been a drop in users.

Review

The bank has claimed 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 calls to its English-speaking lines.

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

Mr Gruffydd said: “As only 6% of calls to the helpline – just one a day – were actually answered in Welsh is it any surprise that Welsh speakers turned their backs on the service? You never really had a Welsh-language service in the first place and that was your business decision to do this.

“As a customer, I am not a priority of yours. How do you think that makes me feel as a Welsh speaker?”

Very happy

Mr Carvalho said the bank had 600,000 customers in Wales and many were “very happy” with the services provided.

He added that the plans to provide a call-back service within three days would improve the service for Welsh-language customers: “It is an unsustainable service at the moment and not yielding the outcome that we want. The alternative service will yield more with all calls dealt with in Welsh. That is at the heart of the decision.”

But Mr Gruffydd hit back, saying: “How have you promoted this service? I have a bank card but the Welsh-language hotline is not on that, I have an app but there are no details on that. Why are you surprised not many people use it?”


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Alwyn
Alwyn
2 months ago

Well I’m not happy, Mr Carvallo. I’m Treaurer for a Cardiff society that has its affairs run, and managed, in Welsh. Our cheques are written in Welsh and our cocumentation is also provided in Welsh. We have been customers of the HSBC for many years. However, having requested in early August, a meeting with a Welsh -speaker to change the primary holder and seconondary hder , the three Office holders webt down to the Cardiff Queen Street bank to a pre-booked meeting on 31 August this year to effect the changes. Not only was no Welsh speaker available, but the… Read more »

Crwtyddol
Crwtyddol
2 months ago
Reply to  Alwyn

I finished with my HSBC credit card and account some years ago due to the poor or non existent Welsh service.

Mr Jones
Mr Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Alwyn

If the person dealing with the bank has better English than a bilingual bank employee has Welsh, as is quite likely in any particular branch, then conducting the conversation in Welsh is just making a political point and very likely to lead to mistakes.

hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Jones

You need to get your head out of John Bull’s fat arse and realise that some people prefer to do business in their first language which just happens to be Cymraeg. Geddit ?

Stephen
Stephen
2 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Welsh maybe the traditional language of Wales,but it’s the minority language in Wales. English is the primary language and you can’t expect business to support all minority languages.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

If Wales had its own banks like Scotland and Northern Ireland does then they would be obligated to provide a Welsh language service. Furthermore that prevents them outsourcing call centre jobs overseas.

Mr Jones
Mr Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

There are not enough fluent Welsh speakers for this to be a practical proposition in every branch.

Stephen
Stephen
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Jones

That may well be true, but obviously their roles don’t involve 1st line support in customer services.

Frank
Frank
2 months ago

There has never been a Welsh service. If the Welsh service was selected it was never answered. So it’s lies lies lies all along.

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