My Citibank (Horror) Story

The credit card division of the Philippine unit of Citibank has been running a radio and online ad campaign featuring testimonials from purported clients whose lives have allegedly been saved by having their Citibank credit cards handy. The radio feel-good spots always end with the satisfied client saying their names and the final line “…and this is my Citibank story”. A recent post in the Citibank “What’s your story ?” site (“home to beautiful, moving and memorable stories about the Citi Card that beg to be told”) equates God with Citibank.

Almighty GOD is the greatest savior, but so is CITIBANK.

Well, this is my Citibank story.

I’ve been a credit card holder of Citibank, for both VISA and Mastercard, for well over a decade. Around October of last year, when my Mastercard was due for renewal, I asked for the waiver of my annual fees, which includes an extension card. I’ve been a “good” client, never having had even a single past due account all these many years. Maybe not good in Citibank’s view, as this means it has never earned any interest from me. So Citibank refused to waive my annual dues.

I then decided to cancel my Mastercard, in one of my intermittent attempts to impose fiscal self-discipline and simplify my life. Citibank agreed, after I settled any outstanding transactions, which I promptly did. Except for the annual fees, which I patiently explained to its customer service representatives, was the crux of the whole issue. The annual fees are advance payments for my continued membership in the prestigious Citibank family for the coming year. Since I was canceling my credit card immediately, it didn’t make sense nor was it fair for me to pay annual membership fees for next year.

Citibank apparently believes differently. Each month since November 2007 until the present, I have been billed for my membership fees with corresponding finance and late charges. Each month, I patiently call customer service to explain my predicament, and each month they promise to reverse the charges, just as soon as they validate their records. I haven’t used the card since I decided to cancel it and, to make sure I kept my resolve, punched holes in it and cut and mutilated the damned thing. I then buried it in our backyard.

But the statements of account keep coming. It’s been eight months since, but every time I dial 995-9999, I get the same line, that they will backtrack and reverse the charges.

I got so fed up with Citibank that I decided to cancel my VISA too. For some unexplained reason, VISA acted on my request pronto and my last statement revealed that I overpaid my Citibank VISA by thirty-four centavos. You think Citibank offered to refund me my thirty-four cents ? Not a chance. I’m thinking of suing them for the return of my overpayment, just for the principle of the thing.

In the meantime, Citibank Mastercard keeps sending me a monthly statement of account, with compounded interest, for an accountability I never incurred, arising from a canceled credit card.

And this is my Citibank story.

17 thoughts on “My Citibank (Horror) Story”

  1. Not the first one I hear where Citibank is concerned.

    The stupidity — they spend so much on postage not counting the backroom salaries that they pay to recover something they will never recover.

  2. Uh oh. I am a Citibank cardholder. Maybe the only good news in all that is that I have a Visa and not a Mastercard.

    Hope Citibank reads this and acts on it PRONTO!

  3. sorry to hear that. The thing is, as with most other credit card companies, it’s the fault of their staff and management, and not due entirely to the company policies.

    Not to say they’re blameless, it’s the lack of training, internal bureaucracy, and just plain incompetence that leads to this.

    I hope you get to resolve this issue soon, and that it doesn’t escalate to a mistaken blacklist or worse, a collections issue, esp for a debt you did not incur. That is an even worse headache.

  4. That happened to one of my friends also. CTB finally reversed the charges after ages. Worse is, they still bill for the annual dues to a dead accountholder even if they were long been informed about it.

  5. @ THEGREATEST, someone who introduced himself as a collection agent actually called my office and harassed me about my account. I told him off and he never called back. I’m waiting for Citibank to sue and save me the filing fee. I’ll be ready with my counter-charges

    @ Jane, a credit card, used judiciously, can actually be a great convenience. But it’s hard not to abuse it, what with so many tempting goodies to be had with just a swipe of your plastic. Of course, the reckoning comes soon after.

    @ WITSANDNUTS, I’m not at all surprised. Citibank is loathe to let anyone go, even those who should be allowed to rest in peace.

  6. hi. am juz wondering. are they really suing the people who havent been able to pay? are the auto generated lawfirm letters saying that the matter is on court now true? or just bluff.

    because on the company side, i believe that for every credit they extend , theres always a doubtful accounts set up for it. and write it off if its uncollectible.
    im just thinking of the accounting side of things.

  7. A formal complaint (copy furnished to the main office) usually works for me. It’s rare that I feel customer service agents are doing their job. Most of the time I feel they just want the conversation to end. Writing a formal complaint leaves a trail and once it reaches the proper office, everything seems to move fast.

  8. wow OK… so you’ve been incurring charges since Nov 2007, that’s a lot. So, are you getting calls from collections? I’m sure they are calling you cuz its considered a past due account.

    if your agreement with the first CPO you spoke to is that the annual fee will be waived once you settled your balance… the CPO shouldve waived it. now this depends on how soon you were able to settle your balance. if your agreement was you’ll settle the balance asap say, within the month or before your next cycle then the CPO could’ve monitored your account and waived the annual fee. since the first CPO failed to do so, the CPOs that you spoke to every month could’ve validated/reviewed your account since Nov of last yr and do reversals since Nov starting with the annual fee then go month by month with the charges incurred.

    i dont know why they didn’t do their jobs… did they explain to you why they couldnt reverse/waive it?

    now, it will be hard for them to verify the annual fee issue because its been over 6 months…

    i know you wouldn’t want to call 995-9999 but you should make sure that all the charges are reversed or its noted in your account that the charges are based on a charge that wasnt reversed/waived. my advice is if you decide to call them, insist on talking to a supervisor regarding your issue, take note of the complete name of the supervisor too.

    this is very important because not only will it possibly affect your credit rating, i also know a lot of cases of card holders whose accounts were forwarded to collections just because of a charge that wasnt reversed/waived and it incurred charges. of course the card holders refuse to pay for it but what they don’t know is its considered as a ‘past due’ by the system. the system doesnt know that its because of something that wasnt reversed, it only reads it as you didn’t pay for it you know.

    btw, i’m not connected with citibank just in case youre wondering.

  9. Just want to share with you my Citibank VISA experience.

    First history was with my Citibank checking account.

    I got a car loan for 2 years using my Citibank checking account issuing post dated checks without any problem. After completing the 2 years, I continued using my checks for a housing loan. And after issuing the first 12 months checks (January to December), I got a call from my mother that my July check had problem so I checked my account activities through their internet banking to confirm that my checking account has enough funds. After confirming that the amount was withdrawn from my account and on the following day it was returned with less P2,000.00, I called up the customer service (and again using my own money as they don’t have international toll free number anymore) to asked what happened. At first they told me that there was no fund. So I asked them to review the activities and they apologized for the misinformation. So they investigated again and made another reason “SIGNATURE DIFFERS” with a penalty of P2,000.00. Isn’t it an easy money without verifying from their customer about the issued check if it is valid or not before imposing a penalty?

    So now I pulled out all the remaining checks and paying my housing loan in cash. It was really so uncomfortable!!!!

    My second history was with my Citibank VISA. Just like The Warrior Lawyer, I’ve been a VISA credit card holder of Citibank Philippines for 11 years.

    Learning from experience, as much as possible, not to have past due to avoid compounded interest because there was an instance where the interest is much bigger than the remaining or outstanding balance.

    Usually, I am using my credit card for online transactions and because I am out of the country, I am requesting my sister-in-law to pay the dues for me. Never knowing the policy of Citibank for consecutive late payments, I had 2 consecutive past dues for June & July 2008 that leads to suspension of my credit card. And since they don’t have the international toll free number anymore, I spent my own money making international call to their customer service 995-9999 to discuss about my credit card status. They told me that upon paying the outstanding balance in full, my account will be reactivated after 3 months. So I payed the full amount last August and expecting that the credit card will be reactivated by November. It means that I will not be able to use it until November.

    Around Nov 20, I called up the customer service again to confirm the exact date of the reactivation. Surprisingly, they informed me that my account will be suspended again for another 3 months because there was a late payment again last September for the automatic billing from one of my online account. Isn’t it weird that even if your account is suspended, and without being notified, online services can still use your credit card? And you know what the customer service told me why it happened? “THERE ARE MINIMAL AMOUNT OUR SYSTEM IS ACCEPTING EVEN IF THE ACCOUNT IS SUSPENDED.” What the hell!!! How true was that?

    I guess they want to terminate my account as they are not earning big interest from my account and I felt that they really don’t care with a customer like me even if I am paying the annual fee.

    After being fed up with their reasoning, I decided to cancel my one and only credit card for 11 years and will apply for a new non-Citibank credit card.

    With these, I am now preparing to transfer my savings from this bank to another bank which will provide me security and good customer service.

  10. I used to be in Citibank, specifically CitiPhone, the department who handles the calls of customers when they call 995-9999. In my two years of service, let me just share with you some unfair practices of their credit card. also, you can verify what i wrote here by calling 995-9999 and pressing 2 for lost cards (this actually connects you to a CPO (citiphone officer) the fastest, regardless if it’s a lost card line. first, the finance charge. scenario: you’ve used your card from jan 1 to jan 30, our billing period. your due date is on feb 20, and your total amount due is Php 10,000.00. you paid 9,800.00, which makes your payment short by 200 pesos. other banks would base the computation of their finance charge on the 200, but here is how Citibank does it. they still charge you based on the 10,000.00, PLUS the transactions that you’ve already made for the period of feb 1 to feb 28! another thing, is when you have a transaction in installment, or paylite, as they call it. this transaction is already charged a separate interest because it’s already in installment, but this transaction is still included when they compute for finance charges! now that’s double charging of interest! probably the worst that they have done is when you have something converted into installment or paylite. for example, you have a 12,000 transaction which you want to pay for 12 mos at 1.5 interest per month. to get the monthly installment amount, you multiply 12,000 by 0.015, and add that result to 1000 (12,000 divided by 12 mos). the result is equal payments of 1,180 every month. now here is the tricky part that citibank has changed about their computation. that have made a TEMPLATE (which is not available to the public) which computes the interest and the principal amount in a diminishing factor, but still results in the same 1,180 every month. sounds like nothing’s wrong, right? WRONG. 80% of the time, people who have installment transactions end their payments early, or what citibank calls PRETERMINATION, which is paying for your transactions in advance. Citibank then charges a pretermination fee based on the remaining principal amount on the transaction, without the interest. BUT SINCE THEY COMPUTE IT IN WITH A DIMINISHING FACTOR, THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT IS ACTUALLY LARGER THAN IT
    SHOULD BE! this results in a bigger pretermination fee, because it’s based on the remaining principal amount, only bloated.
    about the annual fees: Citibank actually never waives your annual membership fees, or AMF, unless your credit card limit is above 500,000.00, and you spend at least 100,000 every month, and pay everything the next month. you can also ask this to the CPO, but he or she’ll deny this and say that citibank never waives AMF’s for anyone.

    this information is actually illustrated on the back of the statements, under FINANCE CHARGE and PAYLITE. if you want to verify this, you can call 995-9999 and ask the CPO (citiphone officer). to talk immediately to a cpo, just press 2. no matter what the automated machine tells you, the person you’re passed to for a lost card is a plain CPO who can address any concern. believe me, i know the system inside out.

  11. Oh my gosh! could you please help me!
    After reading this, I am actually freaking out now! It seemed like resolving problems with them when it comes to bills is hard to finish!

    I am a Citi Gold Visa cardholder and during payment due date, I have paid 26000. Then this month, a bill came again telling me to pay the same amount!
    We tried to contact their hotline this day but it was always very busy. I would really hate to accumulate late payment dues when we actually have paid the amount. Im freaking out!

  12. Below is the email thread I had with GCSS Collections back November 2008. The Agent, which unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the name but I confirmed if GCSS was a acrredited Collections of Citibank and it was so I trusted the agent I was dealing with.

    This is the payment assistance deal that was offered to me initially:

    EPO PROGRAM 0% INTEREST

    OUTSTANDING BALANCE : 41,357.22

    INITIAL PAYMENT : 15,000.00 on or before Nov. 28,2008

    DISCOUNT : 9000.00

    REMAINING BALANCE : 17,357.22 for 11 months to pay with 0% interest

    At that time, I didn’t have 15,000 upfront so I requested for a lower initial payment but I will pay the remaining balance within 6 months instead of 11 months as offered.

    So the offer that was given to me was to pay Php8000 the next day which is November 28,2009 instead and I will avail of the 0% interest and will deduct 9000 to my remaining outstanding balance: Thus :

    41,357.22 less 8000 initial payment less 9000 discount = Php 24,357.22 ( this is payable within 6 months approx 4060 per month )

    So, that’s what I did, the next day I paid Php8000 which according to the agent I talk to will cover for December and I started to pay January til June for 4200. SOBRA PA NGA SA 4060 MONTHLY ANG DEPOSIT KO TO MAKE SURE. Below are the reference number of my Citibank Online Payment Starting January to June 2009. When I paid 8000, I emailed GCSS and told them about it, no one replied to confirm it and no one send me any contract. I didn’t know I have to since the Collections Officer was so eager to collect 8000 from me and have me pay the amount the NEXT DAY ASAP.

    August 2009, I went to Citibank Makati to get the Certificate of Full payment for my account, I had 4 Credit Cards in the past, all I closed and paid diligently from the collections officer thru amnesty program. I never had any contract but all verbal and email agreement with the collections officers and I never have issues at all but the last with ONLY CITIBANK. I was referred to the Collections department, was given a name Leah Eugenio which I was advised to fax the email conversation I had with GCSS. So I did, I called them everyday for 1 week to follow up but no one wants to take ownership of my issue. I am disappointed because I had an agreement with GCSS to pay for it and now that it’s fully paid, no one wants to take action on my account which should be FULLY PAID and CLOSED by now. Dahil napagod na akong tumawag, I forget about it, sabi ko, bayad na ako so whats the use of calling. Not until when I went home again last December 2009 or January ata, can’t remember the exact month, I called CITIBANK again… was referred to Collections again. Same cycle…I sent email and called, no one get back to me.

    You see.. If I intend to run away from my Citibank, I could have just let it go just like any other individual na tinakbuhan ang utang nila. Tumawag ako, nag email ako from Singapore to Citibank hoping I can Finally settle the account and close it properly. I paid 33200, in span of 6 months 2009. The amount you have onhand now is an accumulated interest from June 2009 up to present dahil may natira pa ngang 9000 na discount given to me by the GCSS agent.

    Please help me course this to the right channels. I want to fix this once and for all and I hate to be bounced around everytime I call Citibank, this is the worst experience I have but my loyalty still is there for your bank that I open up my Savings Account here in Singapore still. I just hope we can settle the Citibank Philippines Account. I have been trying to be very patient with the service I got but sabi ko nga sa email ko noon pa, kung gusto ko takbuhan ito, I could have but I didn’t because as far as I know, This account is already fully paid and I am just waiting for the Certificate of Full Payment.

    I will wait for your reply.

  13. I’m not a member of Citibank since I’ve loathed their CSRs for years since I was a kid (when they have been rude to my dad and mom everytime they have phonecalls from them). But my father-in-law was. He died so sudden on the night of June 27, 2008 and left a debt with Citibank. We have spoken back in 2009 with the company to stop sending us the statements since the person they have been billing has been dead for about a year at the time. Citibank office in Makati already asked us for a copy of his death certificate and assured us that the debt has been waived and that we need not to worry about it.

    A few weeks ago, we started receiving statements again from Citibank and so I called them about the issue. The CSR told me that the family SHOULD be shouldering my father-in-law’s debt since he’s already dead…kinda like heirs to his debt! We tried contacting the person we’ve spoken with last year to raise the issue but no phone call has been returned.

    And that is my Citibank story.

  14. Am I required to settle my Father’s dept… he just passed away and can’t find a policy regarding “dead clients” and their supplementaries.
    They are asking for a “co-maker” and 11 months PDCs as a requirement for their assistance program… I’m not so confident with this.

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