Thursday, August 30, 2007

HSBC has to face(book) the music

This story is extremely cool, if you're a consumer, that is. If you're a marketer, beware—or at least listen up. The National Union of Students in the U.K. has successfully mobilized against HSBC on Facebook, after the bank suddenly started charging overdraft fees to students. (Let's not get into whether the bank should be able to charge such fees to those who can't balance their checkbook. Apparently, that hadn't been HSBC's previous practice with NUS members.) The Facebook group had grown to 4000 members, which has caused HSBC, "to freeze interest on 2007 graduate overdrafts up to £1,500, with future policy subject to review. All those recent graduates who have been subject to additional interest charges this August will be eligible for a refund." By agreeing to this, HSBC was able to stop a real-world protest slated for Sept. 4 at its headquarters. While no company wants picketers outside its door, it's getting so that, as compared with a Facebook protest, it might be the lesser of two evils.

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