|by Jason Steele|
I had the most bizarre telephone call to a credit card company. I was explaining to their supervisor how their web site works. Let me start from the beginning.
I opened up an a savings account at Citibank some time ago. They offer this neat feature where you can initially fund your account with a payment from your credit card. I chose to fund it with a Citibank/American Airlines credit card. Later, I received the bill, and went to their web site to pay it. The site clearly listed both my Citibank credit card account, and my Citibank savings account. My first attempt to schedule a transfer was unsuccessful. I received a message saying that the feature was not available at that time. A few days later, I was successful in scheduling a transfer from my Citibank Savings account to my Citibank credit card. Or so I thought.
You’re Kidding Me
At work I received a phone call from Citibank’s credit card department asking me why I missed a payment. I told them that I would have to research it and call them back. When I checked the online account, there was no record of my transfer payment.
Step One, Contact Citi Banking
I call Citi banking, and try to explain the situation. The representative authenticates me and is just about to tell me the problem, and the line goes dead mid-sentence. No one bothers to call me back.
Step Two, Contact Citi Banking, Again
I authenticate again and wait. Then I am asked by the same representative to give him all of the same information a second time. Only then am I told the payment was canceled. They can’t tell me how it was canceled, or who canceled it. Furthermore, they can’t do anything to help me, other than to contact Citi credit cards. I ask them to transfer me, and I am immediately disconnected, again.
Step Three, Call Citi Credit Cards
This time, I am not as patient. I quickly realized that the customer service representative did not have the power to waive my interest and fees. She kept asking me to make a payment first, and then they might consider waiving the late payment fee. I am more interested in figuring out why my scheduled payment never happened.
Step Four, Speak With A Supervisor
This is where things get interesting. I try to explain that the money for my payment to the Citi Credit card was in a Citibank Checking account, and that the transfer was inexplicably canceled. I would like to be credited for the payment on time, which shouldn’t be a big deal, since Citi had the money the entire time. The supervisor explains that Citi banking and Citi credit cards are supposedly not the same company!? As she explains it, they are “sister companies”. That was news to me, as I am able to see both the savings and credit card accounts by logging into a single screen.
Furthermore, she then claims that I can’t pay my credit card with a transfer from my savings. This was especially surprising, considering that I was logged into my account at the time, and there was a button to make a transfer payment! When I clicked the button, it gave me the option to make a payment from my savings account to my credit card account. This time, instead of making a scheduled payment, I make an instant one. It appears to go through, and I printed out the confirmation page just in case this one is inexplicably canceled as well.
The Citi cards supervisor is unable to communicate in any way with the Citi banking staff, to try to figure out what is going on. In her view, what I tried to do was impossible, even though there is an option to do just that on their web site. My only recourse, I am told, is to call the banking people directly, something I did not have the time or patience to do then. Thankfully, she was able to waive the interest and late payment fees, and we hung up on a pleasant note. My only concern now is that I am not charged more interest due to double cycle billing, and that my credit is not affected by a missed payment caused by their computer issues.
My Next Move
I would like to call the media relations people for each of the “sister companies” and get the official scoop. Of course, the contact number is the same for both retail banking and credit cards. So much for the “Sister company” story. My hunch is that they are just different departments of the same company that just don’t like to talk to each other, but I will provide you with their response as soon as I get it.