Annual Citibank Ritual


Outcome: Fee Is Cancelled

 

As it does every year, last week Citibank tried to slip in a $95 ”Membership Fee” for my Platinum MasterCard. As I do each year, I called Citi Customer Service to initiate the annual cancellation ritual. A summary for consumers who do not challenge the fee:

 

Me to Citi: Cancel the fee or cancel the card.

Citi to me: Are you calling to cancel your card?

Me: No, I am calling to remind Citi of my non-pay policy of credit card “membership” fees.

Citi: I cannot cancel the fee. Do you wish to cancel the card?

Me: Not really. Connect me to someone who can cancel the fee.  

[30-second pause, then a higher-level Citi person.]

Citi: We cannot cancel the fee. BUT, if you keep the card and make just five eligible purchases over the next three months, we will make adjustments equal to the fee.

Me: OK. Done. Bet we have this conversation again next year.

Economists call these “hidden” or “obscure” fees. The fee was obscurely hidden on page 4 of this month’s CC statement. Also hidden and obscure is what the benefit is for consumers. Membership fees like these are collected in the millions with automated collection costs in the pennies. It’s a moneymaker because, other than having to talk to people like me, there is minimal overhead.  “Membership” has real benefits only for Citi, not consumers.

 

Consumerist Takeaway: Adopt a no-pay policy for credit card membership fees. Citi will keep on inventing new fees, but if pressed, Citi will surrender the fee rather than lose a credit-worthy consumer to another credit card processor.

 

 

 

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