Citibank Hides Fees and Executives


Getting Ready for 2015

The day after the NYTimes published an opinion piece on ending sneaky fees in sneaky ways, Citibank invented a new way to hide them.

“Hidden” and” obscure” fees are charges in plain sight but covered up to derail transparency, like being printed in mice type or learned about after a bill arrives. Last Thursday (Oct 16) Professor Devin Fergus wrote a NYTimes op-ed piece calling for new “regulatory activism” to end disguised charges like “early termination fees” and “trick-and-tap” games. * The Professor was optimistic about regulatory readiness to end these costly abuses (to consumers) but which are wildly profitable (for corporations like banks, airlines, insurers, auto dealers).

The next day a 4 page letter from Citibank arrived “about upcoming charges” of $20-25 a month as part of the Citi ThankYou© Rewards Program. It was less a Thank-You and more a Nuts-To-You communication. The stand-out line in the dense prose was

We want your banking to be simple and easy and recognize that some of the details of these changes can be challenging to navigate.

It was signed by Debbie Gabor, SVP and Director of Banking Products, who is hidden from recipients of the letter: No Citi return address, no phone or fax number, no email. I called Citi to reach her. I wanted her reaction to Professor Fergus’s comments about bank price gouging with hidden and obscure fees. No one at Citi is permitted to divulge any info on her whereabouts.

She could have used my call to thank me as one of the 150 million taxpayers that bailed Citi out during the financial crisis it helped create. But trying to explain how the latest fees will be quite a trick, a problem best avoided by her staying hidden and obscure.

 Consumerist Takeaway: Last month Citi agreed to cancel its $95 annual fee for my credit card. It’s an annual ritual.

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*See “Ending This Fee for All” by Devin Fergus, New York Times, 16 Oct 2014, page 31A.

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