Here’s How Much Bank of America Sucks

Those of us in Hong Kong love to rag on HSBC and sure, they deserve it.  But they’ve never screwed me the way that Bank of America has.  Here’s what happened.

I have a joint account with my mother with Bank of America in the U.S.  I’ve needed the money in this account for my basic living expenses for the past six months.  I am unable to initiate wire transfers over the internet from this account so my mother has to go into the branch office and sign the forms so that the money comes to me.  It has always come to my account the same day she has sent it.

Until now.

Last week, she went into the same Bank of America branch she always goes to. The guy she sees there, the one who knows me personally and has handled all of the transfers, had the day off.  So she goes to another person there who fills out the forms for her.

BofA has never needed the SWIFT code to complete the transaction.  It goes through just fine with the bank name and a few other details.  But this person took it upon herself to be “helpful” and put a SWIFT code on the form.  The wrong code.  If you look up SWIFT codes for HSBC, there are dozens, if not hundreds of them.  And this person filled in the code for HSBC Investment Holdings Ltd, which is pretty far away from HSBC Hong Kong.

As such, the money left the U.S. but never arrived in my account.  5 days later Bank of America told us that they would inform HSBC and get the money transferred correctly.  One week later they have told us that HSBC cannot transfer the money to my account and can only send it back to Bank of America and that they have no idea how long that will take.

Bank of America insists that there is absolutely nothing else that they can do and have helpfully suggested that I should find some more money and transfer that to HK while I’m waiting for this mess to sort itself out.

I know this will never happen and perhaps I am being naive but it seems to me they should say, “We screwed up, we’ll send the money to your account and we’ll sort out the other money when we get it back. It was our screw up and we will do what it takes to make it right.”  But of course they’re not going to do it.

In the meantime I have bills that are about to be overdue and a doctor who needs to be paid this week to continue treatments that I need.

My mother wants to hire a lawyer but I’m not sure what lawyer would take this case given that it’s just been a week and, while the money may seem like a huge amount to us, in the grand scheme of things others might see it as a trivial sum.

Either way, it’s been one week.  She doesn’t have the money.  I don’t have the money.  It has vanished into the ether and it could be weeks until this gets sorted out.

Personal Updates

I’ve got some spare time while I’m sitting here waiting for Lightroom to export a batch of photos. (Lightroom is painfully slow on my desktop Windows PC for some reason, although it is remarkably fast on my MacBook Pro.)

For those of you who actually come to the site, rather than reading via RSS or Facebook or Twitter links, you’ll see that the top item remains I Need a Job – Help! and that’s still the case, although things have significantly improved since I wrote that.

You’ve likely seen the post about our upcoming move to Tai Po and we’re really excited about that.  We love the flat and we love the village.  We’re going to miss Sai Kung, perhaps more than we realize at the moment, but we’re looking forward to exploring Tai Po and the surrounding area.

I’ve had one IT consulting job for the past six months.  On average I’ve only had around 2 billable hours per week and so I haven’t been making a whole lot of money from this (though I did get a nice business trip to London last month).  They’ve now told me that this year they may have the budget as well as the need for me to devote more time to them.  Aside from the fact that this would mean more money, it’s a good company filled with nice people and I enjoy the work I’m doing for them.

A couple of weeks ago, someone recommended me for a part time writing job.  I’m not really permitted to say what kind of writing it is or for what kind of company.  I turned in first drafts on a couple of projects in the last few days and the company director said that he liked them and that I’m “not a bad writer.”  The money is very, very good here (plus it got me a business trip to Taipei last week) and so I’m very pleased that they like what I’ve given them so far.

The photography side of things is also picking up with a few paid shoots last month and this month and a few tentative bookings on the horizon.  The photography work I’m doing pays very little but it’s probably the work I enjoy doing the most.

I’m enjoying the freelancer/contractor life and enjoying that I’m mostly able to work from home and feeling as if a 16 ton weight has been lifted from my shoulders as a bit more money is coming in.  While I don’t want to jinx things, after an absolutely craptastic 2012, 2013 is looking all bright and Little Mary Sunshiney.

That being said, I am still in search of work – either a permanent IT management position or more IT contract work.  So please do keep me in mind should you hear about anyone looking to fill an IT management role.

So, happy new year, happy 2013 (a bit late), happy year of the snake (a bit early)!