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HSBC out to nobble small businesses?

The banks are yet again under scrutiny at the moment, this time for a new scandal over proof of identity.

Hot on the heels of PPOI, I knew this one was coming as a mate of mine is working at CPP in York trying to sort out the shit storm that’s going on there.

However I want to know why HSBC is being able to get away with using the bad news as a moment to bury other potentially damaging PR as it has now introduced bank charges for even the smallest of businesses.

I still have a business account that has a trickle of funds in it which I maintain pretty much solely for paying tax dues on my previous businesses. It has a large credit balance (well, to my mind it’s large, anything above a grand is a lot of money in my book), very few transactions, and all of them online, and yet they now want to charge me for the account.

If I had the energy I’d kick off a campaign to alert people to what’s happening and encourage them to leave the smallest possible balances in their accounts. I’ve checked my business savings account and it’s paying a measly 0.01% credit interest on balances up to £100,000! Are they taking the piss or what?

If all the busy business owners wised up to this they’d see that their money is actually depreciating while sitting in the bank. If we all just left the smallest amount in then the banks would have to reverse their strategy and do stuff to encourage us to pay more in.

Angry Bee Beard!

More rants about acknowledgement

Right then, it was last week that I started this, and I have just been prompted to rant some more.

I was banging on about how abusive use of direct mail by so many businesses in this country has turned it from a successful business model into a plague and a menace.

I think that fact is largely responsible for the fact that as a nation we rarely respond to anything any ore.

If something doesn’t demand a response – like “tell me no or I will definitely take the money from your account” type of message, it seems that generally folk just can’t be bothered.

Mind you, some of that comes down to language. If you end an invitation with words like “Tell us if you can make it” then you’re asking not to be told when people can’t make it, but then also left hanging not really sure whether folk will arrive or not.

This whole rant started when I did some work for a big company recently.

I slaved away at it, crafting a piece to ensure that it was just right, after all, I stood to make a decent amount of money and maybe find a route to earning a bit on the side to top up the pension.

I duly sent it in and waited in eager anticipation of their comments.

And then waited in slightly frustrated anticipation.

And then after a week I actually rang and asked if they even received it – and just received a cursory brush off and the comment just send us the bill.

I suppose that was the go ahead, and I should be grateful, but I was too annoyed to ask if there was anything else I could do.

I guess that’s old man talking to young person who holds the budget. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Sticky solutions

At least one of the better things about ageing is that if someone has an issue there is a damn good chance that you’ll have an idea of what to do about it.

Just this morning old Mr Bee B got a nephew out of a hole.

Paul had called saying that he needed to label a whole load of stock items in his warehouse and that he was having nightmares of a life interminably writing labels even though he hadn’t even started doing it yet.

Uncle Beard sprung to the rescue and stunned the youth (and of course secretly gloated about it).

I told him he needed to get some self adhesive labels supplied by Data Label, and like the gem of a successful youth that he is he replied Whaaaa? Which I simultaneously translated to mean “Excuse me uncle beard, do you think you could tell me that again, I seem not to have been listening properly”

Without waiting for Paul’s manners to kick in I gently explained that Data Label is a great company that I have used who make vinyl stickers for all sorts of purposes and that I was sure they would be able to ease his debilitating pain. And yes I was as sarcastic as a youth in hoody.

“Fookin ell uncle B” he stammered, “they sound like just what I need. I’m dead glad that I asked you. I didn’t expect you to know what I was even on about.”

I ignored the slur and sent the number to his on a business card from my iPhone while he was still blathering on. That will impress him I hope!

A bit of writing work

For years I worked as a writer, freelance, taking on all sorts of business challenges, whether it was marketing work, online copy or business case drafting, and now and then someone will ask me to do something for them still. I’m delighted as i enjoy locking myself away with an issue to ponder, usually then sharing a few thoughts with my client before firing up the keyboard.

This week the tables turned a little when the guy who was briefing me on a grant submission that he needed writing started talking around his subject. It soon became evident that his business was in good shape in that he had plenty of work going through the books, but his problem was that people weren’t paying his invoices quickly enough. He didn’t have the time to chase them and he could see a cash flow problem hitting him within a few weeks that would threaten to cause him a number of problems, not least of which was with the bank.

This was great for me as I also do some bits and pieces for an invoice finance business and so I was able to introduce two clients – one to the other. Invoice finance brokers are in business to help with just such problems and they’ll effectively buy your invoices off the business giving you an immediate injection of cash to the business. It’s straight forward stuff really, but if you don’t know about it then you’re unlikely to find out unless you happen to have a chat like the one we were having.

And of course the other great thing there is that I’m more likely to get paid on time too!