Honiton woman, 70, left without cash and in tears after bank shuts for three weeks

A Honiton pensioner on lockdown with lung disease was reduced to tears by HSBC bank leaving her without money for days when she forgot her debit card pin number.

Sandra Monk, 70, of Minifie Road, had to borrow funds from friends when the Honiton branch of HSBC closed for three weeks and her phone calls to the bank went unresolved.

After East Devon News.co.uk stepped in to help, HSBC staff called Sandra, ordered her a reminder of her pin number, promised to check it had arrived and said the Honiton branch would reopen today (Thursday).

Sandra called HSBC’s service a ‘disgrace’ and vowed to change banks once the coronavirus crisis ended.

The pensioner, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and low immunity, has been relying on the help of friends to pay for food while unable to draw out her own money.

I have got friends helping me out but it’s making me feel devalued. I am in tears now.

Her 76-year-old cousin, who lives 22 miles away in Crewkerne, called East Devon News asking for help because he feared he would be stopped by police, driving from Somerset to Devon to drop off money during lockdown.

Sandra said: “They have been closed for three weeks. They are a bloody disgrace. I am stuck. They have one in Exeter that’s open but I can’t get anyone to take me there. We will get pulled by the old bill.

“I have got friends helping me out but it’s making me feel devalued. I am in tears now.

“I am getting really frustrated. I don’t want to keep asking them for help. I have got good friends but that’s not the point.”

Sandra said worry and stress over the coronavirus crisis caused her to forget her pin number.

After several attempts to guess the number, her debit card was automatically locked by the bank.

The 70-year-old, who does not have a computer, said she tried to call HSBC on numerous occasions and the times she did get through was told to use online banking to apply for a new pin number.

The pensioner, who is in an at-risk group from the coronavirus and must stay at home, ventured out twice to post letters through the HSBC Honiton branch, in the hope of getting help.

She said funds to buy supplies were running low but vowed to put her two Labrador dogs first if she had to choose who to feed.

Sandra said: “The trouble is if you call the number on the statement they want to know if you are online, and I don’t do online.

“I am so frustrated, when I have got money in the bank. I have forgotten my pin number with all this worry.

“My card has been disconnected. I can’t use it at all. I have put a couple of letters into my bank in Honiton.”

Sandra, who uses a pay-as-you-go mobile phone, said she faces borrowing a neighbour’s contract phone to make calls because her credit is about to run out and she cannot top it up until she can access her money.

She said: “All the other banks are open in town, except for them. Why can’t they send someone from Exeter to come down? It’s a disgrace. After this I am not banking with them anymore. I am changing my account.

“I am so frustrated with them. It’s three weeks.

“If they were open, I could take my bank card into them. They have got it all on their computer.

“I can fill in a chit and they can get me some cash, and at the same time they can send off a for new pin number for me. I can’t even do that because they aren’t open.

“I can’t be the only one who isn’t high-tech. I haven’t got anything online. I haven’t got a laptop or a computer, I am old-school. I work with cash.

“The Exeter branch is open but I can’t get there.”

An HSBC spokeswoman said the Honiton branch was due to open today (Thursday).

She said: “The branch manager has spoken to the customer and ordered her a reminder of her pin number. She will call her again in the next few days to check she has everything she needs.

“The customer was offered help setting up telephone, online and mobile banking but she declined.

HSBS said it was ‘dedicated’ to supporting elderly and vulnerable customers during the pandemic to ensure they can continue to access banking services.

The spokeswoman added: “We are in the process of contacting customers not registered for online, mobile or telephone banking to understand their needs and set up remote access for them if required.”

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