We have been asked to publish this letter sent by Michael Allen, an Alston Moor resident to the Chairman of HSBC Bank in response to the closure of the Alston branch in June.  If you are a customer of HSBC and haven't already made a complaint, then perhaps it might be worth all customers writing a letter and dropping it into the branch to register your dis-satisfaction, or alternatively writing an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Michael Allen,   Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources Management & Economics.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Loaning Foot Bungalow,                                                                 

Alston, Cumbria,                                                                                                                                                            e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CA9 3JZ, England.

 

16 April 2015

S.K. Green, Chairman of the Board of Directors,

HSBC Bank plc

8 Canada Square

London E14 5HQ

 

Dear Mr. Green,

You have informed us that you plan to close the Alston branch of your bank in Cumbria. I have noted your declared values that include "Caring about individuals and their progress, showing respect, being supportive and responsive", and Douglas Flint's quotation on one of your web-pages that "We recognise that we have responsibilities not only towards our customers, employees and shareholders, but also the countries and communities in which we operate." You will be aware then of the detrimental effects that closing a bank can have on a community such as Alston, which is already under pressure from the cuts imposed by successive governments. In contrast, one of your competitors, Santander, has been investing in the local community through its social enterprise development award schemes at South Tynedale Railway despite not even having a branch in town. When you could be a supporter and enabler of vibrant communities, it seems that you are willing to contribute to the demise of an entire society.

I have banked with HSBC because of the staff you have had working in Alston for the last couple of decades, who have consistently provided a level of service that makes it a pleasure to enter the bank and who put themselves out personally, to limit the distress that customers would otherwise feel if they had to deal with your rules and procedures unaided. Presumably you consider them to be as disposable as the society they come from. Without them and without our local branch, there is no other reason to stay with HSBC. Everything else that you have set up as customer "service", locally or internationally, is clearly designed first to protect your interests and reduce your effort, before consideration is given to the customer. Only your local staff give you any competitive edge. I understand, however, that you do not propose to make redundancy payments to these people, who have worked for you for decades. This is an interesting interpretation of "caring for individuals" and "responsibilities towards our employees".

If you close the Alston branch, I will close all of my dealings with HSBC anywhere in the world and for ever. This probably applies to most of your customers on Alston Moor, although I am not qualified to speak for them. I do know, however, that many of my neighbours are discussing alternatives that do not include your suggestion of travelling 15 miles to your branch in Penrith. After all, how long can we expect that one to last? I will not go to the remaining local alternative, Barclays, because Barclays annoyed my parents about fifty years ago in another country: so you see that such embargos pass from generation to generation. Alston may be too small a market to interest you today, but remember that Alston people are all over the World.

You are quoted by the Financial Times as saying, “[banking] supervisors should care more about tone from the top, how ethics and values are taught and reinforced, how values are enforced and rewarded, and how an organisation looks for and adapts to changing expectations within the communities it serves.” We would like to see that in action.

Yours faithfully,