An Open Letter to Citibank.

To Whom It May Concern:

When I was a freshman in college, Citibank representatives came to my school and gave out free t-shirts to anyone who applied for a credit card. I signed up. That was thirteen years ago. My account has been in good standing for most of that time. And within the past three or four years, it’s been in excellent standing.

When I moved to a city that had Citibank branches, I immediately opened a checking and savings account. That was eight years ago. Since then, my loyalty and exclusive dedication to Citibank has only deepened. These days I have one checking account, three savings accounts, a line of credit, a retirement account and a credit card with Citibank. I’ve recommended Citibank to many of my friends.

And so it is extremely disheartening to feel as frustrated with Citibank these days as I do. Specifically, the customer service I have encountered in the past month has been appalling; so much, in fact, that I am on the verge of canceling every single account.

The first bad experience was about three weeks ago. I called about the new $60 annual fee that my credit card will have beginning April 1st. I hoped that as a long-time customer in great standing I might have my fee waived or decreased. When I asked, the customer service representative said very tersely, “No, no one can do that for you. Do you want to cancel your account?”

I hadn’t considered canceling my account at that point. I was simply information-gathering. But the woman’s response to me was so flippant that I almost canceled my account on the spot. What prevented me from doing so was, again, my long-standing relationship with the bank. Did I really want to start over with a new bank because of one lady’s funky attitude? To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure.

But then I called Citibank today to inquire about new fees on my checking account. I didn’t recognize them, and I wanted to know what they were for. I spoke with a man named Lyndon. He said I was being charged for not maintaining a large enough balance and for also not having direct deposit. He said this was a new policy.

I asked if there was possibly another account I could transfer my funds to that might have lower fees. He said yes there was, but that I should go to a Citibank branch to get help with that.

This seemed odd to me. What’s the point of having a toll-free number with customer service reps if all they do is send me to a branch?

I asked if there wasn’t anything he could do with me over the phone, and he said no, I needed to go into a branch. I could tell he was getting irritated. The tone in his voice changed, and he began his sentence with, “Look, ma’am….”

I paused.

I asked him was he sure that there was nothing he could do for me over the phone. I know I sounded skeptical.

Then he hesitated and said that he could give me this information over the phone, but that it would be easier if I went into a branch.

By this point, I was the one getting irritated. So I said, “Sir, I called you for help. That’s why I called. I didn’t want to—”

Before I could finish my sentence, I heard a dial tone. That’s right. The Citibank customer service rep had hung up on me.

I could not believe it. Never in my life has anything like this happened from a company as big and supposedly reputable as Citibank. I was livid. I still am. This is not a way to treat customers who trust you with their money. And it’s certainly not the way to treat customers who have been loyal to you. I am extremely dissatisfied with Citibank right now. And without a speedy remedy, I promise you you will have one fewer customer.

I would rather pay higher fees and be respected as a valuable customer than to be treated the way your company has treated me. It is unacceptable. Please fix it immediately.

Rakia Clark, Citibank customer since 1997


About RtG

Rakia the Great, or RtG, is a publishing geek and sometimes literary snob. She's stumbling her way towards personal fulfillment and world domination by, oh, I dunno, writing this blog. Most days she's living her dream as a fancy schmancy editor. But not, like, today.
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4 Responses to An Open Letter to Citibank.

  1. Sia Nyorkor says:

    Rakia, I feel your pain. I canceled my Citi cards long ago. I had a situation where they kept calling my house because they didn’t receive my online payment. At the time my old neighborhood bank was bought out by PNC so all my direct deposits and payments got screwed up. All of my other credit cards understood and waived any late fees b/c I had always been a customer in good standing with an excellent credit history. Citibank acted a fool. Wouldn’t rescind the late charge and wanted to raise my interest rate. So I closed the account and took my business (Savings, Roth IRA and credit cards) elsewhere.

    Good for you standing your ground!

  2. Kevin says:

    shocking stuff!!!! i still have a citibank account in the US will have to give that a good looking over.

    guess citibank is truly now $hi^^y-bank

  3. RtG says:

    Sia, I still can’t believe this happened. Who are you banking with now? I’m researching other banks.

    Kevin, check your statements. Citibank has instituted a bunch of new fees. I was charged a $0.50 “check paid fee.” They’re charging customers for just about everything now.

  4. Bruce says:

    I too have cancelled all my citibank accounts for the very same reasons….although I still have their credit card. They are by far the best in that area. When I have a dispute, it is removed first, ask questions later. I am always right. I agree though, the banks in the US are broken. I wish they all failed, and we could have had new, efficient, nice banks and folks to deal with!

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