Posts Tagged ‘HSBC’

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

… and Pennsylvania, and Indonesia …

Once upon a time (early this morning, actually) there was a photographer who came across a lovely website called fotoLibra.

“Gosh,” he thought. “If I sign up I can upload my pictures to fotoLibra and if they sell I’ll make some money.” So he uploaded two pictures for nothing.

This very same morning a nice lady in New York found the same lovely website.

“Gee willikins,” she thought. “I’ll sign up, and what I’d like to do tonight is buy a photograph of some guitar strings, for 5000 corporate CDs in Europe.”

Within minutes another nice lady in Pennsylvania also discovered fotoLibra and signed up. “Now, let me see,” she mused, “I think tonight I’ll have a photo of some guitar strings on my commercial internet site for a year. Ah! Here we are! The very thing!”

And both ladies, by fortunate happenstance, had hit upon the same photograph, uploaded by our lucky new member in Indonesia only moments before.

What joy! Two satisfied customers and one happy photographer! And they all signed up within 30 minutes of each other! The picture was uploaded and sold twice before it had been online for half an hour. Job done by fotoLibra!

But then, far away on the other side of the world, a new day dawned, and deep in her feculent pit the great JACQUI NORMAN stirred. She pointed one terrible eye at the computer screen and in an instant spotted the improbability of such transactions.

“FF RR AA  UU DD !!” she bellowed slowly and heavily, shaking the sere and devastated land around her lair.

As I write, there is no happy ending. The money — a fair amount, paid by credit card — will be deposited in the fotoLibra account by close of play tomorrow. In 30 days we have to pay the photographer.

And in four or five months HSBC will slowly realise there has been a fraudulent transaction and will remove the entire amount from our account without informing us first.

So maybe we won’t be paying this gentleman from Indonesia in 30 days. We’ll just hold on to the money for a little while, and see what happens.

We could be wrong.

But we don’t think so.


Having been ripped off by a Nigerian scammer (details here) we asked our local MP Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru) if there was anything he could do to help.

He was as outraged as we were that the issuing bank knew of the fraud two months before coming to HSBC and demanding that $800 be removed from the fotoLibra account, by which time of course we had disbursed the money. He said he would write to the Chairman of HSBC.

Which he did. He received a reply from David Lewis, Head of HSBC Customer Relations, absolving the bank of any responsibility and arguing that it was fotoLibra’s fault for accepting ‘cardholder not present’ transactions. This amazing statement ignores the fact that 10.7% of all retail sales* are now made via the internet, every one of which is a ‘cardholder not present’ transaction.

Mr. Lewis concluded

There are some steps the merchant/retailer can take to minimise the possibility of fraud, for example asking for the numbers in the post code of the card holder and only delivering to that address (as fraudsters often ask for the goods to be sent to another address other than that of the registered cardholder).

That might have been relevant if fotoLibra delivered boxed goods to physical locations. But we don’t. We permit the download of digital images to an email address. There’s no connection to any part of the credit card.

Maybe a credit card could be linked to a fixed email address which would form part of the verification process? No, that’s probably far too simple. Isn’t it?

We are most grateful to Mr Llwyd for his concern and his response. That’s exactly what MPs are for. Full marks.

*Office for National Statistics, February 2012