HSBC asks Welsh customer not to write in 'foreign' language

‘World's local bank’ apologises for offence caused

Zamira Rahim
Sunday 20 January 2019 17:55
Comments
The bank’s recent advertising campaign proclaims the virtues of multiculturalism
The bank’s recent advertising campaign proclaims the virtues of multiculturalism

A woman who wrote a complaint to HSBC in Welsh was reportedly told by the bank’s customer support department to rewrite the message in English, instead of a “foreign” language.

Nia Lloyd, a classroom assistant from Wrexham, north Wales, wrote to the bank to complain about its online services not being available in Welsh.

“With fewer and fewer services provided in branches, and increasing demand for online banking services, I believe that you should provide complete services in Welsh online,” she wrote in her original message.

But the bank’s reply only served to further anger Ms Lloyd.

“We have received the message in [a] foreign language,” an HSBC employee wrote, according to The Guardian.

“I request you to kindly send the message in English and we will be glad to assist you further. I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to you.”

“I am based in Wrecsam, Wales, and our language is Welsh, therefore not foreign in my country.” Ms Lloyd said in response, the paper reported.

HSBC eventually replied to Ms Lloyd in Welsh and said her message should have been forwarded to their Welsh department, and has since apologised.

HSBC marketed itself as the ‘world’s local bank’ in adverts that ran for nearly a decade between 2002 and 2011.

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A spokesperson admitted in a statement to ​The Guardian ​that the bank’s customer service “fell short” and said it was “looking at what can be done to prevent this from happening again”.

“We apologise for any offence this may have caused Ms Lloyd, that was not our intention," the spokesperson added.

"We have a Welsh speaking team and work hard to provide Welsh language services for those customers who prefer to converse in Welsh.

"We have contacted Ms Lloyd to apologise and are looking what can be done to prevent this from happening again."

The Welsh Language Act 1993 legally obliges some public bodies in the country to provide services in both Welsh and English but does not apply to private companies.

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