Posts Tagged ‘hsbc’

Using Tampermonkey to fix HSBC online banking

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 | Tech

Recently, I wrote about some of the poor user experience encountered when using HSBC’s online banking.

Today, I am going to show you how to fix some of it. These instructions are for users of the Google Chrome web browser. If you use Mozilla Firefox, you can probably achieve a similar effect using Greesemonkey.

Tampermonkey is a browser add-on that allows you to run custom user scripts on existing websites. The first thing you will need to do is install it.

Once you have done that, the Tampermonkey icon will appear in your browser. Click this and when the menu appears select “Add a new script…”. Wait for the page to load, then copy and paste the following in:

// ==UserScript==
// @name       HSBC online banking
// @namespace
// @version    0.1
// @description  Improves HSBC's online banking
// @match*
// @copyright  2014
// @require
// ==/UserScript==

$('#benSortCode').attr('size', '8');
$('#benAccountNumber').attr('size', '10');

This code will then be run every time you access a HSBC online banking page. So, as if by magic, when you try and create a new payee, the boxes will be big enough:


Why won’t HSBC fix their website?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 | Tech

HSBC have had a number of what I would consider problems with their websites for the many years that I have banked with them. A few years ago I submitted an online feedback form, but nothing changed, so last month I wrote them a letter (as you do when you get to my age).

It would be nice if they could find the time to fix these issues. They recently had time to issue me a new, more complicated, security device and add an annoying pop-up trying to get me to install their Rapport malware for example. However, they have not had time to make their passwords case sensitive.

I really don’t know how these issues arise in the first place though. As I told them in my letter.

4 June 2014


To Whom It May Concern:

I have been unable to locate a postal or email address for your internet banking service, so I have resorted to writing to the branch and hope that you will be able to pass it on to the relevant parties.

Over the past few years I have consistently run into a problem with your internet banking for my personal account.

When I go to “make a payment” I have the option of selecting “pay a bill or organisation” or “pay family, friends or other”.

I need to make a payment to HMRC, to which I am given the account number and sort code. But when I go to “family, friends or other” and try and enter the account details it says the payee already exists and that I must use “pay a bill or organisation”.

When I go to “pay a bill or organisation” I then have to select HMRC and then select one of their tax offices. But I have no idea which office I am supposed to pay. All I have is that the account name is HMRC and then I have the sort code and account number.

I do not for the life of me understand why you will not let me make a payment in the usual way using the sort code and account number.

However, even if we overlook that, how you expect anyone else to translate nonsense phrases likes “HMRC NIC DEF PYT”. I don’t know what that is! How is anybody supposed to know?

I have included a printed-out screenshot of the bewildering screen.

I think at very least you should list the sort code and account number next to each entry, and use descriptive names for them, so that we can check we are paying the right account. Better still, just allow people to make payments using the sort code and account number like you would reasonably expect to be able to do at any bank.


Another piece of feedback I think is important is regarding your business internet banking. When you go to make a payment on there, you are able to go to “new payee” and enter the account details.

However the sort code is only 4 characters wide and the account number box is only 6 characters wide.

As you know, sort codes are 6 characters long and account numbers are 8 characters long.

This means that it is very difficult to check you have entered the correct account number and sort code because they do not fit in the box at the same time. I have enclosed a printed-out screenshot with this letter to demonstrate the problem.

As a software consultant, I have literally no idea how this situation could arise. Surely, if even the most basic testing can been carried out on your website, someone would have spotted that this was a significant design defect.

I would suggest that the boxes are extended so that you are actually able to see both the sort code and account number.

Yours faithfully,
Chris Worfolk

I received a letter back from them saying they had passed my feedback on. The issues still seem to be on their website though, as shown by this screenshot:


Clearly there is not enough space in those boxes to enter the account number and sort-code and be able to see the full number to check you have entered in correctly. I would not even dare pass that code to a tester; Chris K would be appalled.

If I ever get the time I am going to write a browser plugin to fix these issues myself.

Security in banks

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 | Religion & Politics

Were you under the impression that you were not allowed to cover your face while in a bank, because of security seasons? I was. But it turns out that I was mistaken.


For privacy reasons, I’ve hidden the identity of the subject, but as you can see, this is a bank customer who has clearly hidden their face. Why is this an issue? Because if they are, but I am now, that is religious discrimination. You have to treat everyone equally, and if you grant or restrict extra privileges for one specific group, you are discriminating.

I wrote to HSBC to ask them to clarify the situation.

To Whom It May Concern:

I was of the understanding that when using your bank, I was not allowed to cover my face for security reasons. However, when I visited your branch on 17 April, I noticed a customer using the banks facilities while wearing a full-face veil. I was hoping you could clarify whether these restrictions have been relaxed?

Yours faithfully,
Chris Worfolk

HSBC phoned me a few days later in response. They said that balaclavas and motor cycle helmets were specifically band, because they are associated with burglaries, but I was otherwise free to cover my face while using their bank.

Direct debit fraud

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 | Thoughts

Did you know what with someone’s name, bank account number and sort code, you can set up a direct debit in their name and clean out their account?

Maybe you did. Maybe you had heard about it but thought it was just an urban legend. Maybe you didn’t. The issue came up in 2008 when someone used Jeremy Clarkson’s bank details to set up a fraudulent direct debit, after be made his bank details publicly available to prove that you couldn’t commit direct debit fraud simply with a few numbers. Of course, you actually can.

Ideally of course your bank details wouldn’t be in the public domain, but for some individuals and organisations, charities like ours for example, it’s fairly unavoidable that they end up getting out there.

This results in rather a lot of direct debit fraud.

The Gym, PureGym, Sky and Elephant are just some of the companies that seem apparently happy to let people pay for their services by using a charity’s name and bank details.

Is to too much to ask for banks to ensure the direct debits are legitimate? At HSBC, you have the option of placing care messages on your account. So you can be notified of all direct debits set up – it’s nice to get a letter to tell you there has been direct debit fraud on your account, but that they let it go through anyway – really reassures you that they know what they’re doing.

Worse still, however, is that we have now blocked all direct debits now need to be confirmed with one of the trustees – yet when I checked the mail the other day I found no less than five new direct debits that had been set up without our authorisation. Ridiculous.


Monday, January 7th, 2013 | Reviews, Thoughts

Last week, we tried to get Elina’s bank account sorted out. When she originally set up the account with Lloyds TSB, they would only give her a cash card account, which is a weird account that has limited functionality, including not being able to use Link ATMs. They kept saying they could eventually change it, but they never have, despite nagging.

So we went into HSBC as I bank with them and have generally had less bad experiences than other banks. They weren’t too happy about doing it at 2:30pm on a Saturday, but eventually agreed to see us. However, they then moaned that we only had two months of bank statements, not three, and so couldn’t continue. So we stormed out of there.

Next we went to Lloyds TSB and once again asked them if they could upgrade the account. They said that their old system that isn’t 100% accurate said no, they couldn’t give her a real current account, but they couldn’t check for sure as their new system wasn’t working. They couldn’t give us a reason either – just “computer says no”, so we left there too.

The next bank along the street was Natwest who aim to be “Britain’s most Helpful Bank”. That is an admirable aim, but then, when you think about it, it’s really like being “Britain’s most gentle rapist” = admittedly more gentle than other rapists, but still ultimately a dick that abuses everyone who comes near it.

So we decided to skip that one and pop in to Nationwide, who are a building society.

They closed at the same time as HSBC, but were willing to set up the account anyway. Indeed, our account manager Shabana actually kept the branch open for us for an extra half an hour while we sorted everything out! She talked us through all their accounts and they immediately accepted Elina for a proper account.

I was so impressed, that I left with a new current account for myself as well! Of course, time will tell whether they continue to deliver on customer service, but so far it has been an incredibly refreshing experience.

You want to pay in “money”?

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 | Thoughts

Banks are a joke. While most shops are offering increasingly extended opening hours, most banks continue to open 10-5 on weekdays, preventing anyone with a job, and therefore money, the very thing the banks are after, actually being able to go there and use it.

Luckily, this is gradually, very gradually, starting to change. The HSBC in the city centre now opens on a Saturday.

So last Saturday I headed down there to pay some money in for CWF.

However, when I arrived, I found all the counters closed. So I asked the customer service person standing on the door, how I was to go about paying money in. “I’m sorry sir, we don’t offer that facility on a Saturday. It’s only Monday to Friday.”

Apparently, because I had some coins to pay in, and they don’t operate a counter service on a weekend, I couldn’t actually pay any money into the bank account, despite the bank being open. You couldn’t make it up…

Strange experiences

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 | Reviews, Thoughts

Myself and Zoltan had an appointment at HSBC today to get our community bank account up and running. It was rapidly turning into the AHS dragging on and on with them never getting in touch with me except for a torrent of letters saying they were trying to get in touch with me but couldn’t (I got them to check my contact details – they have them correct).

Anyway we went down to the branch today, Zoltan was late of course, and got it sorted there with amazing ease – we were in and out in 10-15 minutes and the account is now open!

As such I thought I would mention a positive experience I have had with dealing with a bank, especially given they are becoming even more rare these days (as if that were possible 😉 ).