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.