10 November 2006

HSBC, thou art a wickedness! - Part 2/3

- On the next morning, 14 September, I go to Westbahnhof, one of the two major railway stations in Vienna, buy a telephone card and call the number. It is a tape for telebanking ("If you want to check the balance of your account, press 1"). I can tell you, I was furious! I rang up and I swore to myself that if I they don't get this settled now, I cancel my application. I complained when I called the same hotline as in the night before and explained that I don't understand why my I have to run after them to get that damned account opened before I arrive in the UK (little did I know that this was a naive hope). My emotion apparently showed in my voice because I was forwarded twice until a woman answered that seemed to be an experienced "high level" employee. She was the first person of HSBC that I spoke to on the phone which has given me her full name. Imagine. She promised to send the correct form via e-mail, as well the instructions to get this finally done and a couple of questions that I need to answer in written form. She also tells me what documents they require.

- What followed was a 10-hour-marathon: I went to uni to check my mails. No application form 30 minutes later. I went home (takes 40 minutes), got my passport, my residence registration, drove to the Magistrate to get a certified copy of that. I go to the next Bank Austria branch to get the last six months' bank statements (as required). I also need a bank reference. The employee calls my personal bank officer and tells me that only my personal branch can do this. While waiting for the bus, I call that woman (she gave me her extension number) from HSBC and tell her that I need the e-mail asap if I want to send this today. She promises to send it now. I go to my personal branch, they are very friendly and supportive, give me a bank reference (saying I have got an active student account with them) and stamp and sign both the reference and the statements. I drive back to uni to download and print the HSBC form that has arrived. The e-mail really includes everything Ms Mitchell promised to send. I printed the form (a fucked up layout in PDF => three A4 pages on one) and rang HSBC again to ask what groups of people can certify my passport (it was already 5pm by then). "Police officers? Very good!" I go back to the IT room, look up the number of the Vienna Police Directorate and call them while walking to the building (not far away). The man on the phone tells me that they used to do that but don't anymore. He connected me to the city council. They don't do that either. The Bank Austria headquarters are right in the middle of the uni and police, so I hope that this branch might still be open (bank officers can certify too). It isn't. I call the 24/7 Bank Austria hotline and ask whether, by any chance, there is a branch in Vienna that isn't closed yet. There was! There is a branch in the 21st district (outskirts of Vienna) that's open until 7 pm (I don't know why, as it is not very central). It took me one hour to get there by tram and one hour back to Westbahnhof (long opening hours post office). I used the time to fill out the form. The first part of the form with blue pen, the second part with green fineliner (I lost the pen), the last part with black pen (as required for automised reading). I sent all the documents + my tricolore application form on the very same day. Quite an achievement! Try to copy that!

- A few of the questions I had to answer in the e-mail to Ms Mitchell were:
--Purpose of opening the new account with HSBC UK (My life was boring?)
--Where the initial source of funds to be credited into the new account will originate (From the account number that they will see once I transfer the money??)
--The anticipated level and nature of activity through the new account (Am I supposed to have lived abroad before???)

- Upon moving in to Dinwiddy, I already have a letter in our box saying that my application would now be processed once I arrive in the UK but doesn't say whether I have to do something.

- I go to a branch on 25 September and ask the woman at the reception (it's like a conveyor belt, people queue up, briefly outline their problem to be either solved immediately or be told to wait for 15-20 minutes until their name is called) if I have to do sth. She looks me up on the database, says I am already on the system but I have to do the online application again in order for my bank account to be opened for good.

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