HSBC has made the decision to close its Welsh language phone line service. This will come into effect on 15th January 2024. From then on, HSBC insists it will still help customers who wish to bank in Welsh. Welsh speaking customers can reach out to HSBC, however, instead of the usual hotline, they will receive a call back in the Welsh language in three working days.
This comes after the bank revealed that the service is no longer being fully utilised. While the English language phone line receives around 18,000 calls daily, the average number of calls to the Welsh-speaking service a day is 22. This is something that HSBC sees as not enough to justify the running of the service.
The Welsh language has been a topic of debate for quite some time. Last month the popular language learning app Duolingo revealed that it would no longer continue to update its Welsh language courses due to a decline in usage. Now the decline in use has had an impact on the banking world. There has been plenty of negative backlash to the news, with Education and Welsh Language Minister Jeremy Miles saying he was “disappointed” to hear the announcement.
What’s occurring on Twitter?
Much like an episode of Gavin and Stacey, there has been reaction from both English and Welsh sides of things. Some users have understood the decision that HSBC has made from a business point of view. One Twitter user wrote: “Well done HSBC, far better ways to spend money. Shame the Welsh government doesn’t think the same.”
Others have voiced their anger. One user wrote: “As a regular user of your Welsh language line, I insist you continue with the service, respecting my rights as a Welsh speaker. Please ensure you have customer service staff that are skilled in our country’s two official languages.”
While the social media reaction appears to be a polarising one, it is very possible to understand both parties. It would be hard to argue against the decision from a business point of view. The 22 calls a day in Welsh compared to 18,000 in English rather damning. However, given Welsh is one of the two official languages in the country, the frustration it causes some is understandable.
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Perhaps the rare, siting on the fence approach taken by one user is the way forever. They wrote: “Would Welsh language users be happy to pay an extra charge to subsidise the service? HSBC have obviously decided it is not economically viable to sustain it.”
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