Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
  Citibank can kiss my ...........
The Citibank bailout is a done deal and for the sake of the stability of the financial services sector I guess I can see why it was necessary. That said, let me tell you two little anecdotes that explain why I hate Citibank and, in a bought of wishful thinking, why I hope that certain members of their management lose their jobs if not their fortunes. Both have to do with Citibank's credit card biz:

1) A few years back, Citibank bought the Sears credit card division from Sears Roebuck. I had had a Sears card since I was 18 or 19 years old. It was one of my first lines of credit. The first thing Citibank did was to convert all the cards to MasterCards and hike the rate to 19%. Needless to say, I stopped using the card.

My final payment to the card was made via the internet on a Friday. A few weeks later I received a statement in the mail saying that my payment had posted on the following Tuesday. This resulted in a finance charge and late fee of $15. I called and complained and the customer service rep waived the fee. I then asked to cancel the card. hahahahahahhaha!

Needless to say, the card was not canceled and two more late fees (on zero purchases) accumulated, reaching a balance of approximate $50 with interest. I called and called and finally reached the person who said that she was the highest ranking person that I would ever speak to. She told me to go to hell buzz off.

I asked if she worked for the company whose name was on the card - Sears. She said "No."

I then said I was calling Sears. The Citibank rep got very defensive and said that I shouldn't do that because it would do no good.

With a couple of phone calls I ended up speaking to a VP at Sears who dealt with their contract with Citibank. She assured me that the problem would be taken care of and apologized profusely. To her credit, this person from Sears got Citibank to drop the fees and cancel the card. (Was that so hard?)

2) When we applied for the mortgage on our lovely home in 2003, we were taken by surprise by a "default" and "charge off" on a Citibank credit card in the late 90s. To the best of my and my wife's and my knowledge, neither of us had a Citibank card during that period and this problem had not surfaced during our two prior mortgages in 1998 and 2001. Nobody seemed to know what this mysterious default was about.

After several hours of phoning various Citibank information lines, the mystery was solved. In the early '90s I had canceled an Amoco credit card. In the process of mailing the final check and the account actually closing, a service charge of $1.50 had accumulated. Amoco simply let it go.

But a few years later, Amoco was bought by BP and the credit division was purchased by, guess who.... Citibank.

Deep in the computer records of Amoco credit this 1992(?) $1.50 charge resurfaced as a 1999 Citibank "default." Nobody had bothered to send a note, let alone a bill.

So, in 2003, the closing on a 6 figure mortgage was almost scuttled because of a buck-fifty from 11 years prior combined with Citibank's incompetence and greed.

In 2008, Citibank will now get a $XX,000,000,000 infusion of taxpayer money. I've got to say that my emotions are quite mixed. I'd feel better if somebody ran a credit check on them.
Me too, and I hope they find a 5 cent charge from 50 years ago that scuttles the government bailout loan. I'm still bitter!
Citibank is one of the bad guys, as if any of us needed any proof. The bailout by the Feds was just another scam on their part as far as I am concerned. They certainly didn't deserve it, and should have been allowed to limp along, or fold. We need less corporations like Citibank whose greed is not only legendary, but shameless.
Great post---and how I feel about both Bank of America and Wachovia from friends' experiences with them.
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