The days of the friendly neighborhood bank which operated in the interest of the local community and which was interested in being a good LOCAL corporate citizen seem to be winding down. Banking conglomerates have been caught in an escalating cycle of abuses. Most notable was Bank of America's decision to market their services to illegal aliens. Graphic courtesy of Newsnet14.
And now another bank, Citibank, seems to be emerging as a serial abuser. One individual recently had such an unpleasant and frustrating experience that he changed banks and started the Boycottcitibank.com website to document his experience. Here's a summary of his post.
In summary, On December 18th, 2007, this individual went through the drive-thru window of his local Citibank in Allen, TX to cash a check. The teller returned his cash to him in an envelope, in accordance with normal procedure. He chose not to immediately check the envelope prior to driving away. Upon reaching his next stop, when he opened the envelope, he found his money. But he also found somebody else's debit card (referred to as "Mr. Smith").
By the time he noticed the problem, the bank had closed for the day. Instead of waiting until the next business day to simply return the debit card to the bank, he chose to call Citi's customer service 800 number. He explained the situation to the customer service rep, who in turn agreed to close Mr. Smith's debit card as a precaution. Problem solved - everybody goes home happy, right?
Wrong. The next morning, when this guy attempted to use his own debit card at a local fast-food restaurant, the card was declined. A phone call to Citi customer service identified the problem - the customer service rep cancelled the WRONG DEBIT CARD the night before. After considerable discussion, the Citi rep agreed to mail him a new debit card, which he received on December 21st. Problem solved, right?
Uh-uh! Almost a full week after receiving his shiny new debit card, on December 27th, a brand new problem. He received the following letter from Manisha Parekh, the branch manager of the Allen Texas branch (where this entire ordeal started):
RE: Checking Account #123456789 & 987654321
We are unable to meet your expectations and banking needs. We believe it is mutually beneficial to terminate our financial relationship.
Accordingly, we request that you close the above referenced account no later than January 11th, 2008. Should the account remain open at that time, the account will be closed and any remaining balance will be mailed to the address above.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter
And what was worse, when he attempted to discuss the situation with Parekh, she absolutely, positively refused to give him a reason or even entertain any discussion of the issue. After contacting her chain of command, he got some apologies, but the decision was not reversed, and he moved his account to another bank. He believes the manager was getting back at him for making one of her tellers look bad.
This type of service of Citibank's part does not seem to be a fluke. Back on March 23rd, 2007, national socialist activist Bill White experienced problems getting Citibank, or, more precisely, Citigroup in this case, to correct their records, which had dinged him for a wrongful foreclosure. The effect of this mistake was to cause other creditors to jack up White's interest rates by 30 percent. All the other creditors corrected their records - except for Citigroup. Here's the account of Bill White's interaction with Citigroup, originally posted on the now-defunct Overthrow88 blog:
Folks may remember that a year and a half ago the CIT Group was forced to pay me a $100,000 judgment for wrongful foreclosure. They reported me in foreclosure when I wasn't and wouldn't fix it, then didn't show up in court. 'Nuff said.
Well, some other creditors decided to jack my interest rate up to 30% or more as a result of CIT's false report -- the infamous cross-default clause. When I won the libel judgment, all of them admitted they were wrong except one and fixed it. Guess who didn't fix it.
So I've been in court with Citigroup / Citicards / Citibank (South Dakota) NA for the past two and half years. Last year, a settlement was imposed on the case. I can't discuss the settlement, but, since I got it, Citigroup / Citicard / Citibank (South Dakota), NA has been very unhappy with me. Passive aggressively obstructionist, one might call it. They haven't done anything wrong, but have deliberately not done everything they could to be helpful. This week, I lost patience with it.
There has been one girl at Citibank who is their head debt collector. She is in their Litigation Management division. This one girl has been the major problem. She's one of these kinds of debt collectors who goes onto messageboards and brags about how good it feels to have people beg her to correct their credit report, refuse them, and watch them cry about it. She likes abusing power. I hate people like that.
So the other day I made 150 phone calls to the 2200 people who work in their Kansas City, Missouri Citicard Credit Services, Inc center, until I found someone with both the access to tell me who was the head debt collector and the lack of brains to answer my questions when they didn't know who I was. It took me three hours to find that person, but find them I did.
Then, I called their Internal Recovery Unit and I had a conversation:
Me: "Transfer me to x in Litigation Management."
IRU: "I don't know what you're talking about."
Me: "Is this Internal Recovery?"
Me: "And you deal with Litigation Management?"
Me: "Do you know an x in Litigation Management?"
IRU: "What I don't know is how you know her."
Me: "None of your business how I know her. It is sufficient for you to know that I do and I have some business with her. Now please transfer me."
IRU: "We can't transfer you. There is no incoming line to Litigation Management."
Me: "Don't lie to me. I spent all last night cracking your phone system. Every desk in Kansas City has an incoming line. Now transfer me to x."
IRU: "Hold on."
And they transferred me to x. X, however, didn't know who I was and let her voice mail pick it up. Fortunately, her voice mail had her last name on it.
It then took me two hours to figure out how to spell her last name, which is unusual. Once I did though, she was easy to find.
So I sent someone to her house last night to have a word with her. Specifically, she was told that she either did what I've been trying to get her to do and stop obstructing me or I was going to release her name, address, phone number, family members etc onto the internet and let anonymous have a whack at Citigroup's head debt collector.
This morning, the papers were pushed.
So there is the answer to the magic question of what exactly it takse to get Citigroup to give you good customer service -- hunt their debt collectors down at home and show them what being tough with someone really means. Anything else, Citigroup just seems to blow off.
You can review additional Citibank horror stories at Citibanksucks.com, Flyertalk.com, and Rattlingthekettle.com. Here's the latest report on Citigroup from the Better Business Bureau, which rates them "Satisfactory".
And here's an informative post about who dominates the banking industry and a discussion of their long-term macro-objectives.