Ho Wai-On 何蕙安 aka Ann-Kay Lin

Bank Nightmare 惡夢銀行

New page 6 April 新頁 4月6日 (updated 已更新)

雖然英文寫得比較詳細,冇興趣睇英文的可看在頁尾較簡短的中文部分,是特別寫給新近來英和預備來英的香港人,是本人的親身經歷,謹供參考。


I have not updated my website for weeks. That's due to my bank demanded to know the reason for my paying a good friend £100, then said the reason was unacceptable hence blocking my account for weeks, making me angry, anxious and ill...

Internet Banking Nightmare


I am vulnerable and have been in self-isolation during COVID lockdown. A good friend who cannot form a bubble with me consented to help whenever – such as to buy and deliver to my door an urgently needed electric fire; collect and post parcels for me...etc.  I sent him cheques FOR him to KEEP some money to pay for whatever I need whenever.  Money I sent him has nearly been spent.  As the postal service has been affected by COVID, I thought it might be simpler to top it up using Internet banking.  


I logged on Internet banking. When I filled in to pay my friend's account £100, I was asked for a reason of payment. I thought that was just a reference for the recipient and for my own record so I filled in "For keep." – short for what's underlined (in bold) in the previous paragraph. When log on was blocked, I tried Chat but it kept showing messages of no concern to me.  When I asked for a person it said no one was available and showed a phone number.


Overzealous Scam Team & incompetent  Complaint Resolution


I telephoned and was asked many "security" questions by one person, then passed to another to asked even more questions. Questions asked were excessive, intrusive, personal and repetitive. I had to answer my mother's maiden name three times; details of my last money in and money out though the last bank statement I received was not up to date; the exact amount I paid for my last Tesco shopping; my old address of about 15 years ago including postal code; what is this person that I pay £100 and when how where I met him, and why I wanted to pay him...  Though I explained what "For keep." meant repeatedly I was told that was not an acceptable reason.  I told the bank staff I had read all that about scam written on the account yet she insisted to read all that to me again...  In the end she said I was not to use the account for I can't remember how many hours and that the money would take some time to get through.  This Internet banking took nearly two hours. Though I was infuriated, I told the bank staff I was not interested in getting involved with complaint procedures – I had had enough!  I felt exhausted and ill after all this but thought at least that's the end of the matter. Little did I know that's only the beginning.


The bank's Complaint Resolution telephoned some days later and I had to answer security questions and explained what "For keep." meant again.  The man appeared to understand but said this was a Scam Case that needed investigation. I said I'd pay my friend by cheque then, but he said my account, transactions and cheque use had all been blocked.


Complaint Resolution telephoned again the week after and said "For keep." was not acceptable and thus still under Scam Team investigation. I explained what that meant again but he said scammers would say things like what I said. So, was I suspected as a scammer scamming myself, or my friend was the suspect, or were both of us suspected of scamming me?  He said I would always have to give a reason for each payment and it's up to the bank whether or not to provide the service. He said he could do nothing and could not tell when I would be lifted from being barred from transferring money or using cheques. He said there's no point for me to go to my local branch.


I then received a letter from Head of Complaints thanking me for contacting them but I'd never contacted them. It's frustrating that according to the Complaint Resolution man he could do nothing because my case had to be investigated by the Scam Team, so why kept giving me Complaints Dept. that has no power to resolve the case?


Arbitrary, unfair to me and others


It does not make sense that all because of my filling in "For keep." as the reason for transferring £100 to a good friend, bank staff arbitrary decided this as a scam case needing investigation.  Though I was deigned to still use my bank card, there are people I need to pay and cannot pay with a bank card. The following is just an example:

I have written music in 12 acts called Song & Dance of a 3-Time Cancer Survivor. Due to COVID, ensemble performers cannot work together, so each has to record their part at home then transfer online as music files for me to process. Whenever I have received a certain amount of music files, I need to pay the performer. Even if my account is unblocked, I would not dare to transfer the payment online – how can I expect some nameless/faceless bank staff to understand my brief description of this and not to assume the payment as scam again?  I can only pay by cheque. COVID hits musicians hard as many performing venues have been closed and performances cancelled. Arbitrary blocking cheque use is unfair to musicians expecting the payment for their livelihood.  


How to end this farce?


To avoid catching COVID, I don't go to Town Centre. Despite not going out, I managed to keep walking into things or hurting my leg/knee/foot somehow indoor. I still had a wound not yet healed and was not walking well.  After my account was blocked for three weeks with no foreseeable end, I limped to the bank's local branch in Town Centre, disregarding the Complaint Resolution man said there's no point for me to do so. The lady I saw at the branch tried to unblock my account and telephoned some department. She said she had checked I was really me but the person on the other end insisted on speaking to me. I was then questioned by one man then passed onto another, going through the same routine: "security" questions; explaining what "For keep." meant and be told that was not acceptable; be read all about scam...  What I resented most was the way he asked about my friend and I : whether I met him online; exactly how long did I know him – a short while, one year or two years...; was I sure my friend had never put pressure on me to give him money; did he always give me a bill of what he bought for me and did I check it; had he ever been dishonest... I told the man I had already asked the lady at the local branch to delete my online account as I never want to use their Online Banking again but to use cheques instead. That man still said they could stop my cheques...


Why so ridiculous?


Friends and acquaintances who use Internet banking all said they never had to give a reason to their banks for paying someone. Perhaps that's due to this is a Spanish bank?  An English neighbour said perhaps it's due to my un-english name and accent that I was treated like this. I remember the Complaint Resolution man said scammers would say things like what I said.  I wondered whether there's a list for checking, so I googled "How to identify a scammer".  


The list includes:

Odd-looking name (yes I have);  

Accent (yes);

Can't communicate ("For keep." as reason of payment, I suppose?);

Hesitation (not able to answer straight away the exact amount I spent at Tesco or the postal code of where I lived 15 years ago...etc.);

Tone of conversation become heated (yes, talking to these bank staff on the phone made me angry every time);

A sense of urgency (yes, I needed to use cheques and to transfer money, and soon.);

Threatening (I asked for the name/contact of their CEO?)

There are more...  


Yet, all along those who had spoken to me on the phone only said "For keep." was unacceptable hence a scam case. No matter how many times I explained what that meant, they just wouldn't let go.


I then googled Customer Service Reviews of this bank and saw low ratings, especially on Internet Banking, IT standard, unpleasant telephone conversations, dealing with complains, lack of empathy for the elderly and vulnerable... I was particularly alarmed to see that for "security", the bank blocked a woman's account, making life difficult for her during COVID, and also blocking some others' bank access for same, and regularly...  All these made me feel concerned about Hongkongers who might unwittingly stumble into similar situation with a bank while making their new homes in the UK.


Concerns for Hongkongers


Though I have lived most of my life in England, I spent my early years in Hong Kong when it was British. Now, Hongkongers eligible for BNO who fear the increasingly controlling Authority and "security" law may have already fled to the UK.  More will do so. BNO is but a visa and they need to bring in money to support themselves and their dependents for at least six years. Like me, they have un-english names, an accent and will resent their bank demanding to know why they pay someone. Their Hong Kong English may be interpreted as unacceptable reason and hence, scam.  Excessive, intrusive and personal questions that they must answer will agitate them, bringing back memories of bad happenings that made them flee the Hong Kong that they love – the Hong Kong where many from all over the world came to make their fortunes.  Arbitrary blocking their accounts for weeks is likely to cause these HongKongers great inconvenience when they need to make many transactions for setting up their new home and business. I feel I should let them know of my experience so that they will be more careful in choosing a bank and in dealing with bank staff, especially when using telephone banking. There are many things they will need to learn about – it's a different culture and society over here.


I now feel insecure with my bank


Employees only do what they are told by those higher up and to carry out policies decided by them. I emailed the bank's CEO about my experience and said that it shows there are problems in their policies and staff training.  I also took a copy in letter form to the local branch and asked them to forward to the the CEO.  So far I haven't even received an acknowledgement. The bank is closing the local branch in a few months – i.e., from then on I can only use their Internet or Telephone Banking if I don't want to travel to another town where a branch is still open.  It will be hard for those who are too vulnerable to travel or not adept in IT, and those who do not like talking to strangers on the phone.


On the phone, in the name of "security", staff asked excessive, intrusive and personal questions. They are faceless, nameless and total strangers to me yet they can falsely accuse me and my friend, to block my account for weeks, and I don't even know who and why. Talking with staff face to face is fine. To communicate in black and white is fine too. Using the phone is the worst. The following is another ridiculous experience:


Many years ago, I was persuaded to change my telephone/Internet service to TalkTalk. Soon my phone/Internet/emails all had problems. I was told there's nothing TalkTalk could do because I was not able to tell them my correct name. At the time, TalkTalk used telephone staff based in India, probably to save cost. Apparently an Indian staff in India whom I had difficulty in understanding his English (no doubt, vice versa) entered my un-english name incorrectly into the system, and I was expected to know what that name was!  After many weeks, finally I managed to speak to the secretary of some director and put things right. At least TalkTalk said sorry and paid me forty odd pounds as compensation.


I want to know whether it's only this bank or all banks in England can subject customers to an ordeal for no good reason at all. Meanwhile, I will only keep just enough money in this bank to pay standing orders and direct debits.


The Issues


1.  UK's economy suffers because of COVID. Many lost their jobs or business. Apparently there have been more scams going on. I can understand the bank wants do something about it, but when I have proved it's really me and that's how I wish to spend my money, it should stop at that. Otherwise the customer becomes a victim of bank harassment rather than a scam victim.  


2.  It's my money, and how I want to spend it is my business. Is it right the bank should know/approve of the reason of payment?


3.  Is it right that the bank can let its staff to question a customer excessively, including personal matters and ask a lot of questions about the payee? It was humiliating that in order to put an end to my account blockage, I succumbed and answered questions that were really none of their business.


4.  On the phone, many times I was told it's up to the bank whether or not to provide the service – as if I should be grateful and just have to put up with whatever whenever. If it is so, how can one feel safe to entrust one's money to a bank?


5.  Raised by an English friend after reading my article:

Discrimination amongst a huge group of the working population who are unfamiliar with foreign names and Hong Kong English (for example) is too common; they are not trained to understand that many customers come from different countries, have different names and different Englishes. This creates huge and unnecessary problems for people and I can understand your concern for fellow Hong Kongers coming to this beleaguered one-time “mother country” where they will be treated as foreigners. This is so so sad.



Page 1: Essay for BIBAC, BIBAC Presentation & an Inter Artes Article

Page 2: Music and Cross-Cultural Combined-Arts Creativity

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在最近或將來用BNO過來英國的香港人,在選擇銀行開戶口和與銀行職員應對、尤其在使用網上或電話銀行時,以下我這親身經歷或可供參考:


由於健康狀況及遵守英國疫情政䇿避免受傳染,我大概已有一年足不出戶。起初,超市網購和送貨都供不應求,買日用所需很有點困難,還好有位好心腸的年輕好友R君,答應隨時幫忙我,譬如為我去購買食物或急需用品並送到我門口,隨時幫我郵寄包裹等等。我時不時給他支票,好讓我在他處有些存歀,可以隨時用來為我購買所需或幫我做這樣那樣。存歀快用完了,由於疫症影響郵遞,多次寄出的支票都很久才收到,所以我想,用網上銀行轉賬會快速方便點吧。


我用網上銀行時,過程不順,要多次再登録,當我填寫付給R君銀行戶口一百鎊時,表挌上要求填寫付款原因,我以為這只是讓收歀人作參考和給我自己留個記錄,便填寫了“保存”,跟著網上銀行又發生故障而且不能再登陸,用Chat毫無幫助和說當時無職員,最後顯示了個電話號碼。  


我打電話去問因何不能登録,怎知先被一位職員然後再被另一位職員像審犯一樣地問話,重覆地問關於我的家人,我最近進歀的詳情,最近超市購物用了多少錢,要我詳細地講出十五年前的舊地址,又問R君是什麼人,我何時何地何故認識他...問得多且煩,而且我覺得是超出了銀行職員可以問的範圍,跟著又問因何給R君一百鎊,和說我填寫“保存”做付款理由不能被接受。但這是我的錢呀,我想怎樣花是我的自由呀!跟著那職員長篇大論地向我宣讀關於詐騙的,這次網上銀行結果花了我將近兩小時,這還不是最恐怖的。


數日後銀行職員打電話來告訴我,因為我填寫了“保存”是付款原因,這不能被接受,疑為詐騙,需要調查,因此把我的戶口封鎖,停止轉帳和使用支票。這簡直是無中生有,豈有此理!之後三星期,時不時有職員打電話來問話和說“保存”做付款原因不能被接受,無論我解釋多少次,職員仍說需作詐騙來調查,和說不知道我的戶口何時才會被解禁,又說我親身去銀行交涉也是無用的。


銀行關於投訴的傳單說事件可以延續至五星期或更長時間,我等了三星期見仍無進展,受不了,雖然腳痛和去市中心可能會被傳染,也親自走去市中心的銀行分行,面對面和職員講,在分行見我的職員想幫我解禁,她打電話去某一部門,説已確實認明真身,但電話的另一端仍要求我在那裡接電話再被查證,先被一位職員然後再被另一位職員在電話問話,被問和答我以前已多次被問過答過的,尤其是關於我填寫了“保存”是付款理由,最令我反感的是在電話另一端的職員,多次想誘導我把R君講成符合詐騙者的形象,問我們是否上網認識的,要我確實告訴他認識了R君多少時間,能否肯定地說R君從來沒有向我施壓力要我給他錢,和有沒有佔便宜,又問R君有沒有給我代購的帳單和是否從中取利...分行職員幫我解禁,但電話的另一端卻仍說可以隨時禁止我使用支票付款...


朋友和熟人都說他/她們的銀行從不問付歀原因,或許這是因為我這間銀行總部在西班牙,所以與眾不同吧?有英國人鄰居說或許由於我那不是英國人的名字和口音,致被如此對待。我覺得員工不外是按照上級的指示做,和執行上級決定的政策,我寫信給銀行的CEO,告訴他我這次的經歴,和由此可見其銀行的政策和職員培訓方面都有問題,會趕走客戶的,但至今毫無反應,似乎無中生有地誣蔑,給客戶帶來不便,唔該都唔駛講一聲。跟著接到通知,說在市中心的分行將會關閉,即是從此如果不去鄰鎮分行,便只能使用網上或電話銀行重溫惡夢了。


我上網搜索這銀行的客戶對其服務水準的評論,見到評分什低,尤其在網上銀行、IT水準、令人忿怒的電話交談、投訴處理、對客戶缺乏幫助和同情方面。最令我驚心的,是見到多位客戶批評這銀行以“保安”為理由,封鎖客戶的戶口。有一女仕說這種無理的封鎖戶口,使她本已在疫症期間的困難生活,雪上加霜。亦有客戶投訴被這銀行定期似的封鎖戶口...這讓我想起那些持BNO新到達和將會遷移到英國的香港人,他/她們在英國選擇銀行開戶口時,應以我這經驗為戒,要多方查考比較各銀行的服務水準,和與銀行職員應對時要小心。


我在香港成長,但大部分人生住在英國。現在有些香港人擔心制度改變和“國安”法,用BNO來到英國,帶進不少資金需要存入銀行。他/她們和我一樣,不是英國人的名字和口音,港式英文可能被誤解,而被武斷為詐騙,我至今不能明白因何為了我寫“保存”二字,便被銀行如此對付。或者是詐騙組的職員随意抽到我來fill quota,致令我無辜中槍吧。但他們把我咬住不放,過份的問話和無中生有地封鎖我戶口幾星期,實在過份。我想香港人也一定不能接受銀行職員查問進歀詳情和付款原因,和要回答大量關於私人和親友的事情,什至會被激怒。至於未被裁定便先封鎖戶口,或會令他/她們想起一似未裁判先坐監,那些令他/她們離開所愛的香港的事情,和會感到不安全,無法向銀行託付那麼多的錢。而且銀行給予電話銀行的職員有權隨便封鎖顧客戶口數星期,你緊佢唔要,會給這些BNO香港人帶來極大的不便,想這些新到步的香港人為新住所和生意,需要及時做很多轉帳的。所以和這些電話職員講話要小心,勿生氣,就範免麻煩就是了。


疫症大大影響英國經濟,很多人失業或隨時會失業和生意執笠,各式各樣詐騙事件層出不窮,亦難怪銀行的詐騙組如此過份,各位有錢請萬事小心。也希望新到達英國和在最近將來會來英國的香港人做好心理準備,英國和香港的社會和文化習俗有很多的不相同,講和寫的英文也頗不相同,易發生彼此誤解的事情。英國人和在英國的多樣種族的人,會因對香港的無知和不理解,未必是岐視但會有因無知而有些成見,香港人從社會主流變成少數群體,或需要作很多的適應和忍耐。英國樣樣都比香港貴但搵錢難,在香港行得通和吃香的一套,在英國未必行得通,過到來或會學非所用。英國很多服務和工作水準差,什麼都慢吞吞的。或説,用和依靠同聲同氣的人不就可以嗎?但這亦未必靠得住,被同聲同氣的人搵笨的事情我亦有所聞。英國天氣常常不好,不似香港方便和多美食,不如香港多姿多彩。但英國比較符合和認同普世價值,起碼不會因言入罪(但講種族性別岐視和侮辱少數群組的話例外),可以輕鬆隨和的過日子,又有國家保健,雖然BNO和家人需付點年費才能使用(好像有例外?)。如果喜愛文化,倫敦是世界文化中心之一。世事無常,前途難料,才會搬過來吧,但香港人這樣醒目,定會掂的。祝福各位在英一切順利如意,和會給英國帶來好的影響。



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Written Work page 3

Page 1: Essay for BIBAC, BIBAC Presentation & an Inter Artes Article

Page 2: Music and Cross-Cultural Combined-Arts Creativity

On this page: Bank Nightmare 惡夢銀行