HSBC handling of bounce-back loans branded ‘shambles’ by businesses

Small businesses are being pushed to collapse because of length of time HSBC is taking to process bounce-back loans, say owner-managers

UPDATED: Small businesses say HSBC is pushing them to the brink of collapse because of the time it is taking to approve bounce-back loans.

Another small business owner says her mental health has been affected by the “sham” of her experience of applying for an HSBC bounce-back loan.

HSBC’s own bounce-back loan guidelines say it aims to respond to applications within a couple of days.

Yet HSBC business customers say they have been left hanging for weeks for approved applications to be processed and money to appear in their accounts.

>See also: Half of small businesses will never repay Bounce Back Loans, warn banks

Some HSBC customers say the bank’s unresponsiveness is pushing them into going out of business.

“They have left me to go under,” said Darren Smith of Chorley-based DMS Minibus Hire, who applied for a bounce-back loan on May 16, having been an HSBC customer for over 30 years, and is still waiting for his money, despite HSBC assuring him the money would hit his account within two days.

“So many businesses are going bust due to this farce,” said childminder Louise Blazys, who is also waiting for any communication for HSBC, despite applying three weeks ago.

Alan Larking, who has set up a Facebook page for unhappy HSBC bounce-back loan applicants to share grievances, asked: “Are they going to compensate businesses that have gone into liquidation due to their incompetence?”

By comparison, Lloyds and RBS have both been singled out by small business owners for how quickly they have gotten BBL money into people’s current accounts.

>See also: Microbusiness £50,000 Bounce Back Loans – how they work

“I cannot understand how it’s taking so long when the likes of Lloyds Bank are processing and paying within 48 hours,” said locksmith Richard Hopkins, who applied for an HSBC BBL on May 23 and was approved that same day. Since then he has heard nothing.

‘Businesses will fail due to the total shambles that is HSBC’

“To be very blunt, if the loan doesn’t get paid into my account soon, I won’t have a business to go back to,” said Hopkins.

Kerry Howard, who runs handicrafts business Woodworks and has been an HSBC customer for eight years, said her mental health has been affected because of the bank’s silence over her approved bounce-back loan.

Howard said: “HSBC are making people ill with the way they are behaving. My life has become ruled and consumed by HSBC. I feel broken actually, and as if I have no control or decision-making ability about my own business anymore.”

An HSBC UK spokesperson said: “We’ve seen unprecedented demand for bounce-back loans. We’ve approved over 118,000 bounce-back Loans so far and have been working hard to get these much-needed loans to our customers as quickly as possible.”

Peter Trotman, director of business broker Vision Business Advisers and an HSBC business customer for four years, blames HSBC opening up bounce-back loans to non-HSBC customers for overwhelming the system.

Applications are being lost and business owners have to reapply multiple times, only to speak to call-centres with no overview of their applications.

Cynics claim that HSBC is allowing non-banks customers to apply for bounce-back loans through them, so they have their details on file to convert into business account customers later down the line.

Longer wait times

HSBC said: “As one of the few banks accepting applications from businesses that aren’t currently our customers, we’ve been inundated with requests to open accounts. As a result, the wait times for new accounts are significantly longer than they were pre Covid- 19. We continue to advise businesses to apply for the loan with their existing bank if possible because it will be much quicker.”

Trotman himself applied on May 4 and, having heard nothing despite over 15 phone calls and numerous emails, was told to reapply on May 13. Since then he has still heard nothing.

Trotman said: “I am not the only one. There are hundreds or thousands whose businesses will fail due to the total shambles that is HSBC.”

HSBC points out that it has received over 145,000 bounce-back loan applications so far, and that it may be that some applications are problematic because they have not been completed correctly and need manual checking.

One kink in the system is that because of the way the Government has structured the bounce-back loan scheme, businesses get their facility offer letter within a few days of application from a non-HSBC address, which may have landed in a junk folder. HSBC urges business customers to check spam folders.

And HSBC urges customers to accept this facility offer email, as some customers that there is nothing more they need to do but sit back and wait for money to arrive in their account. Funds will be received within 48 hours of a customer accepting the terms of this facility offer letter.

Further reading

HSBC adds billions to its £14bn small business loan fund ahead of Brexit

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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