I just had a bit of an adventure with the HSBC Bank and I’ve discovered a couple of things that might be of interest to other customers.
On Monday I paid a rather large cheque into the Holborn Circus branch of the HSBC. For various reasons it was important that this cheque cleared as quickly as possible. I paid it in to one of their automated teller machines and being a technology-friendly sort of person I used a particularly new type of machine. The difference with this new machine was that you don’t put the cheque and the paying-in slip in an envelope, but you feed them into to the machine which then gives you reduced photocopies of both the cheque and the slip as your receipt.
This morning the cheque still hadn’t appeared in my account so I called my bank (First Direct, another part of the HSBC chain) to find out why. They agreed that it was unusual and said they’d contact the branch to find out what had happened. I’m going to omit all the details of the phone calls I’ve been involved in this morning as you’d only get bored, but the end result was that I went back down to the branch at lunchtime. It’s all been clearer up now and I’ll see the funds in my account tomorrow but, as I said before, I’ve learned two important lessons.
1/ If you want a cheque to be paid in as quickly as possible, don’t use a machine
When you pay money in over the counter, it goes into the system immediately. If you pay it into a machine it only goes into the system when the machine is emptied. This might be at the close of business that day (which could add an extra day to the processing time) but in less busy branches the machine might only be emptied every few days.
2/ If you must use a machine, use one of the older ones
The problem, it seems, was with my handwriting. I’d put my sort code and account number on the slip, but there was some confusion over a couple of the digits. It took them a couple of days to work out which account to pay the cheque into. Now, on the older machines when you pay money in you put in you bank card and the machine reads the account details from the card and prints them onto the envelope. So even if you have the worst handwriting in the world they will still know who you are. With the new machines, you still need to put your card in, but this is just used to authenticate as an HSBC customer. Your bank details aren’t read from the card. So it becomes vitally important to print your sort code and account number legibly.
So there you go. I’ve been on a bit of a financial rollercoaster this week because I didn’t have this hidden knowledge. So I hope this saves someone else from having the same problems.