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HSBC to reduce waiting time for call back in Welsh from three working days to one

14 May 2024 4 minute read
HSBC bank. Lucy North/PA Wire

Emily Price

HSBC has announced it will reduce the waiting time for customers who request a callback in Welsh from three working days to one following a review of the service.

The bank scrapped its Welsh language customer service telephone line in January 2023 despite weeks of calls and campaigns by politicians to keep it open.

HSBC said the closure of the service was due to “an extremely low level of calls”.

The bank claimed that after an in depth review 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.

This was later disputed by the Senedd’s Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee which accused the bank of treating Welsh speakers with “contempt”.

Sine the telephone line’s closure, Welsh language calls have been automatically transferred to the bank’s main contact centre and undertaken by English speaking agents only.

Call back

Customers seeking to converse in Welsh were able to request a call back – but initially this has taken three working days.

On May 1, HSBC wrote to Chair of the Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee, Delyth Jewell to provide an update on the callback service.

In the letter, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, José Carvalho said: “Following our review, we are reducing the maximum length of time for a callback from three working days to next working day.

“We now have the confidence to reduce this timeframe through our experiences from this first quarter, and the diligence of our Welsh-speaking branch colleagues.

“We will write to all customers advising them of this change in Welsh and in English. Whilst it will take longer to formally update our procedures and public website, we will endeavour to keep our current average callback time as low as it currently is.

“Customer feedback has been positive, and our customers have told us they are ‘pleased with the service’, ‘being called back so promptly’ and that ‘HSBC are supporting customers who wish to conduct their business in Welsh.’

“Two customers indicated they would have preferred to request a call back via the automated system, rather than through an agent, but this is not something we are currently able to implement.

“We also sought feedback through the members of Merched y Wawr and have listened to their views on the removal of the original line and other operational challenges.

“We continue to meet and engage the Welsh Language Commissioner and have committed to working with their team to promote the callback service beyond our branch network.”

Welsh language campaigners Cymdeithas yr Iaith say the announcement counts for “virtually nothing”.

The group has reiterated calls for new legislation to ensure Welsh language provision is equal to English provision.

Barriers

Siân Howys, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Welsh Language Rights Group, said: “This announcement counts for virtually nothing, as there remain barriers in place which mean that HSBC’s Welsh language services are still far from equal to their English language services.

“We certainly hope that HSBC don’t expect their customers to be grateful for this. Additionally, their telephone service is only part of the problem, as HSBC do not have any Welsh language service online or on their app.

“The fundamental problem – as highlighted in the parking company One Parking Solution’s recent case against Toni Schiavone – is that there is nothing in the current legislation that protects the rights of Welsh speakers in the private sector, regardless of what the Welsh Government says publicly about official, equal status for the language. That is why we need a new Welsh Language Act.”


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Aled
Aled
7 days ago

Os am sicrhau dyfodol i’r iaith a swyddi yng Nghymru, jyst siaradwch Cymraeg, hyd yn oed o fod wedi mynd trwodd i’r llinell Saesneg. Mae’n dibynnu ar agwedd y sawl sy’n ateb, gyda rhai yn mynnu na allan nhw eich helpu, ond o’m mhrofiad i o lwyddo mwy nag unwaith, mae’r gallu ganddynt i drefnu’r alwad nôl yn Gymraeg heb i ni orfod siarad Saesneg. Ond trwy dyfalbarhau y cawn unrhyw hawliau yn pen draw.

Rhian Davies
Rhian Davies
7 days ago

Hi, I agree with The Cymraeg language society. Cymraeg-speakers should be able to deal with HSBC on their phone-lines in their own language. The Cymraeg-speakers are the main disseminators of the Cymreig-culture of this nation Cymru, commonly referred to by an insulting label ‘Wales’, which meant ‘strange-people’ to the English. If the HSBC bank are taking money from Cymraeg-speakers, then why don’t they take an interest in our culture? Where are HSBC’S cultural values? If there was any sanity on this island, one of the first things HSBC would do, is encourage some of their staff to learn Cymraeg.  Helo, Dwi’n cytuno gyda Cymdeithas Yr… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 days ago
Reply to  Rhian Davies

They have stacks of Welsh speaking staff across Wales and beyond. However the company is too lazy to use its technology resources to divert calls to nominated staff. Easy to do and no doubt within their existing capabilities.

Riki
Riki
7 days ago

They should be charged as they breaking the law. Cymraeg is protected under our law and they must either respect that fact or take their jobs elsewhere.

Last edited 7 days ago by Riki

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