Borrowers Bare Fangs with Facebook Group, and a Bank Relents

HSBC felt the wrath of online WOM recently. The firm said late last month that it was scrapping plans to charge interest on its U.K. graduate accounts in response to pressure from an online Facebook campaign.

That pressure came in the form of a Facebook group launched by the National Union of Students (NUS) and titled “Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-off!!!” The group has amassed almost 7,000 members since its creation in mid-July, and its founder, NUS Vice President for Education Wes Streeting, credited the collective online protest with forcing HSBC to back down.

“There can be no doubt that using Facebook made the world of difference to our campaign,” he said in a statement.

Back story: Previously, as with many U.K. banks, opening a student account with HSBC would entitle the holder to an interest-free overdraft not only throughout their years of study, but also for three years following their graduation. When the bank moved to renege on the promise, the collective outrage of Britain’s post-grad population spurred the Facebook group, and the mea culpa. “Like any service orientated business we are not too big to listen to the needs of our customers,” HSBC’s head of product development Andy Ripley said in a statement.

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