Hoping to stop a sharp slide in its customer base, Citigroup will stop charging monthly fees to customers who keep $50,000 in their combined accounts, according to financial industry sources.
The bank, which has slipped to fourth place in the U.S., may also cut or eliminate fees for some customers at the basic account levels. But many consumers say Citibank has a long way to go to win them back.
"I withdrew all funds from my business account and notified Citibank by mail that Company has closed and requested account to be closed," said Tanal of Fremont, Calif. "In the meantime, instead of closing account, Citibank decided to charge me monthly fees for having a 'low' balance."
"Citibank has refused to close the account unless I go in to the branch to pay the balance due from bank charges," Tamal complained.
High fees may be galling but impersonal, and often ineffective, customer service is close behind, according to the consumers who write to ConsumerAffairs.com about their frustrations wtih Citibank.
"Before leaving for Europe, I talked by phone with two bank officers to make sure that my ATM card would work; they both said there would be no problem," said "D" of Alto, N.M. "I moved more than $2,000 into my account to make sure that I would have enough spending money. But I tried 7 ATMs in 3 cities and coud not access funds from my account.
"When I returned, I went to the bank and they blamed some employee who no longer worked there. When I said that was not sufficient, I received a letter from the bank president suggesting that I move my accounts to another bank, which I did. The bank promised unsurpassed service but their service isn't even up to average," D said.
Bank officials say they're on the case.
If we offer a much better service than what our customers are getting today, they are going to bring more of their business to us, Citigroups U.S. retail-banking head, Brad Dinsmore, said in an not-so-hard-hitting interview with Bloomberg News. By lowering the threshold to $50,000, it will allow us to offer Citigold to more customers.
That won't wash too well with Greg of Raleigh, N.C., who was miffed when his Citicard was declined and infuriated when the Citi turned a deaf ear.
"I have been a Citibank credit card customer since 1983. I was at my Doctor's office today, paying a $385 bill when I was told my credit card had been declined," Greg said in a complaint to ConsumerAffairs.com. "I called Citibank, Customer Service told me my account was 5 days past the due date. ... They said my credit card payment was due on June 20, 2010 and today is June 25, 2010. She said that is their policy and she could not override it.
"I asked for a supervisor, and the same response was given. I pay my balance in full each month. I can't believe this is how they treat a long time customer who has perfect credit. As soon as I get my credit card rewards, I will dump Citibank, once and for all," Greg vowed.
Citi introduced the Citigold accounts in the 1980s to attract affluent savers. They come with a dedicated hotline, free checks, theater promotions and fee waivers on wire transfers. Until now, the minimum balance to avoid a monthly $25 fee for Citigold service was $100,000.
But Citigold customers, like Sherif of Cairo, Egypt, are as vocal in their dissatisfaction as those of lesser net worth.
"I am a Citigold member for long years. Today my Citigold debit Card expired and the new one was not delivered. When i called the customer service they said sorry sir it will be delivered to you," Sherif said.
"I use my debit card to cash almost daily from my account and ive been unable to use it now for one week. I would have expected that a new card would arrive at least 15 days prior to the expiry of the old card to avoid a loyal customer dissatisfaction but that was not the case ... not even an appology for the delay.",/p>
Edward of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., blames Citibank for the loss of $3,250.
"I have been a customer of CitiBank (CitiGold) since 2000. I have used their online banking system for hundreds of wire transfers and recurring payments. On December 6th a final recurring payment of $3250 was sent after which I went online and cancelled all future recurring payments," he said.
"While reviewing my statement in January, it was apparent Citibank had sent out another $3250 payment on January 6. Ovbiously I contacted them immediately and let them know this was not authorized by me and in fact had been cancelled by me. After several days of investigating, they said the funds were not retrievable from the other parties bank. ... On February 6, Citibank again sent out another $3250 and deducted the money from my account leaving me with $700 in my checking account."
"I am still out $3250 and now they have closed my account and put me in collections," said Edward, who said he is retired and lives on a fixed income.