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MS blasts ‘disrespectful’ HSBC for asking constituent to resend Welsh query in English

An MS has taken aim at HSBC for asking his constituent to resend a Welsh language query in English.

Llŷr Gruffydd, who represents North Wales in the Senedd, says the message is “yet another example” of the banking giant’s “complete and utter disregard for Welsh speakers”.

The Plaid Cymru politician was contacted by the angry constituent from Ruthin, who was told by a member of HSBC’s customer care team that they were “unable to read” their Welsh language message.

HSBC has come under fire recently after it announced that it would be axing its Welsh language phone line in January.

The Senedd’s Culture Committee has written to the corporation accusing it of “contempt” towards Welsh speakers, adding that its “failure to maintain an approach consistent with its values is considered disingenuous and disturbing”.

It also questioned statements made by HSBC’s head of wealth and personal banking, José Carvalho, who spoke in front of the committee last month.

The banker said that the Welsh-language helpline receive around 22 calls a day, and that the bank had ended up “with only 6% of the calls that are coming in being answered in Welsh” by them.

However, the committee hit back saying that this means 94% of calls to the service are not being answered in Welsh, indicating a fundamental failure of service by the bank.

The Committee said that the “low number of calls” to the line “reflects” the bank’s “inability to provide a functioning and coherent service that meets the needs of its Welsh speaking customers.”

Llŷr Gruffydd said: “This is yet another example of HSBC’s complete and utter disregard for Welsh speakers. 

“It is completely unacceptable that y constituent was asked to resend their Welsh language query in English.

“There is understandably a huge amount of anger and frustration in Wales with HSBC’s attitude towards the Welsh language.

“As a Welsh speaker myself and as a member of the Senedd’s Culture Committee, I share that sense of frustration.  

“HSBC has shut a huge number of its local branches across North Wales over the last decade, which has left many of its customers in the lurch.

“It should be remembered that many of its customers in Wales are elderly and vulnerable, and that they need to be able to access their banking services face to face.  

“HSBC like’s to describe itself as the world’s local bank. Well it is abundantly clear that this is not the case in Wales as it abandons Welsh speakers and abandons our high streets by shutting down branches.

“When customer’s email HSBC using the Welsh language they should at the very least receive a response in Welsh. 

“I also reiterate my call for HSBC to reverse its decision to close it’s Welsh language phone line.

“It should be remembered that many customers use HSBC because of its Welsh language phone service, and it is without question true to say that the bank has not done enough to promote it.

“It is another big blow to their customers in Wales especially their older customers, and those who don’t have access to digital technology. 

“The bank’s pledge to ‘arrange a call back in Welsh, within 3 working days is astonishingly disrespectful to Welsh speakers. It is also insensitive to the financial pressures some people will face.

“For a significant number of people, accessing their bank through Welsh is not a ‘choice’ as HSBC claimed. HSBC say they ‘have confirmed that all customers can bank in English.’

“This is an attitude that belongs to the last century. It is also untrue, especially for many elderly and vulnerable people. HSBC now needs to reverse this decision, and move towards promoting Welsh-medium services. That includes accepting Welsh language emails from customers.”

The message from HSBC to the constituent said: “Thank you for your recent e-message. You have sent your e-message to a HSBC website in the UK. Regrettably, I am unable to read your email.

“Hence, I request you to please resend your message in English so that I can look into your matter.

“I regret, I am unable to assist you with regards to any account specific enquiry via this messaging service.

“Your e-mail has been received by HSBC in the UK, where we may only respond to feedback and general banking queries relating to HSBC UK products and services.”

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