Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich


April 30th, 2007 · No Comments · Money, Reviews

Once upon a time, I was a Citibank customer. I was lured in by their shiny ATMs and their appearance of being technologically forward, I suppose. Since my banking needs are pretty modest, it was easy to overlook the occasional sloppiness and ineptitude for a time. As my irritation grew and it became clear that Citibank was a bank of bunglers, I realized that changing banks is a big pain in the ass.

Faced with a steady stream of small pains in my ass over time, or a big pain in my ass once, I copped out and just left things alone, and hoped for the best.

This all changed the day Citibank told me I could sign up for their “rewards program”. If I enroll, all debit purchases could be used to earn points that could supposedly be used for cool stuff and services. I figured since it didn’t cost anything and I’m going to use my debit card any way, why not sign up? So sign up I did.

I got my first “reward” in less than 24 hours. My existing debit card ceased working.

What the enrollment process didn’t say, nor the promotional literature, is that enrollment would require a new debit card. Once you sign up, your old card is turned off and Citibank sends a new “rewards” debit card with a new number. While my new card was in transit, I was left with no card. I was told I couldn’t reactivate the old card, and if I needed ATM access, I could show up at a branch for a temporary ATM card, but which wouldn’t be a debit card. While this might seem like a minor thing to geniuses at Citibank, for those of little people who have various recurring charges set up, a new debit card (and number) is officially a big pain in the ass.

Faced with this unavoidable pain in the ass of changing all my recurring charges and bill payments, I decided I might as well do it with a new bank. I told Citibank what they could do with their rewards debit card and spent the next month moving everything over to Commerce Bank. That’s how I became a very happy Commerce Bank customer.

Citibank, of course, managed to screw up my account closures as a parting gesture of their usual incompetence. They even tried to charge me fees for their mistakes, but I was prepared and kept all my documentation. It took an extra visit to the branch and few phone calls, but I didn’t pay them a single extra nickel.

Even as an ex-customer, Citibank still finds a way to remind me they are still a bunch of bozos. Citibank will send an email to me 2 or 3 times a year about exciting features and promotions for my account, like paperless statements or no ATM fees, all for an account I closed over a year ago.

I’ve called them 3 times to stop these emails, the last call being today. I have to call, since there’s no unsubscribe option, and I don’t have an account to log into to change my email preferences. Each time I call, a cheerful little Citidrone acts very helpful, assures me I have been removed from the list, and thanks me for choosing Citibank, even though I don’t. We will see if the last one got it right, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.

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