Thursday, February 26, 2009

Citigroup is Pathetic

Citicorp Blows ChunksWhere to begin?  Let’s start with Citi taking over SearsCard.    My wife and I have held a Sears card since 1989 (our first “real” credit card together.)  As a young couple we had the usual ups-and-downs, but did a reasonable job of being responsible with the account, as is evidenced by our eventual upgrade to “Gold” status and a credit line increase to ten-fold the original amount.  Not a huge credit line, but the fact that it grew organically over the years was noteworthy – we never requested an increase.  When the service was offered I signed up for online payments and electronic billing notices.  We continued to tread lightly with the account, only hitting snags when extended travel caused things to get off-kilter from time to time.
Then Citigroup hit the scene.
First, the online notices disappeared (no one has ever been able to tell me why, but they did, and of course this came back to bite me – I need reminders to get bills paid and if you don’t send me one I’m not going to sit there and wonder about it.)  After things got in arrears they called and asked me why I was late – then the Citi rep and I discovered that the email notifications for my account were somehow turned off.  No problem, we got things sorted out and back on track.
Fast forward a few months.  After sailing along smoothly for some time I notice that one of my online payments was “returned” – so I made a payment in the store.  Then another online payment was “returned” so I called the fine folks at Citigroup and spent nearly 2 hours on the phone with them.  They tell me that ANOTHER payment, made months previous, had been “returned” – which flagged the account as “Bad” and led to the eventual closure (all without notification to me.)  When asked how the payments were “returned” they had no answer.  There was lots of finger pointing at me, my bank, data input errors (on my part, of course!) and just about anything other than a Citigroup error.  They went on to explain that they had different online payment systems, depending upon if your account was “Good” or “Bad” and that I had incorrect information in my “Bad” account screen (even though I didn’t even know it existed, apparently I was logging in to it to make payments that weren’t being accepted.)
They tried to tell me my recent payment was processed over the phone by their collections department (it wasn’t – I’ll take a polygraph and wager any amount of money on that fact!) as was the previous “returned” payment (it wasn’t, either.)
I’ve seen stories about credit card companies tossing payments in the garbage to run up fees – it’s obvious to me that I’m the victim of an electronic version of the same scam.  If this is how Citigroup treats someone who has held an account for just short of 20 years then I sincerely hope they crumble from the weight of their collective egos if not from the consequences of the current financial crisis.
After spending 2 hours on the phone with no less than six of their employees (usually two at a time, with someone running off to check with their manager) it is no shock to me that they are loosing money like crazy.  It’s not bad debt that’s killing them, it’s bad management and abusive policy towards their customers.
Suffice it to say I now place Citigroup on the same pedestal as AT&T/Cingular for abusive customer service policies and wish a plague of locusts upon them.

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