As a quick break from the gushiness of the Pope’s Washington visit, I offer you readers this.  Received a 12 page, double sided, 10 point document from Citibank a couple of days ago with the title “Important Changes To Your Account Terms.”  My first displeasure is the characterization that these “Account Terms” as “mine.”  No. They are not.   They are Citibank’s terms and I had nothing to do with creating them.  Normally I would just toss this crap in the trash but since this is the first time I’ve received a printed copy of my “Account Terms,” I thought it might be instructive to scan briefly through it. 

I love the first page, although not an official part of my new “Account Terms,” with such useful and customer friendly phrases as:  “You new Card Agreement is here.”  I do get excited occasionally when FedEx delivers a package:  my pasta maker for example or my latest purchase of ribbed condoms.  But a “Card Agreement?”  Can’t say I get all that excited over such an item.  Then there’s the ever helpful “A new, clean design with simple language” which, as it turned out, is pretty accurate.  The 12 page document is easy to read – it’s divided into 14 clearly demarcated sections - and the language is pretty much the language any eighth grader who didn’t attend a southern Christian Academy for the Study of Creationism could handle.  Then comes “Easily understand terms which have been updated.”  Again right on the money since the next two double sided pages lists what I assumed to be the major changes in my new Account Terms. 

Then there’s the “When you speak, we listen” which is the last of the introductory remarks and it deserves special attention so I’ll quote it verbatim here:

When you speak, we listen

Your feedback continues to help us understand the things that are important to you, and helped guide the creation of this new Card Agreement.  If you have any questions or comments, contact us at 1-866-565-7030 (TTY/TDD 1-800-325-2865)

The only feedback I can recall which I provided about this credit card was when my card was declined as I was checking out of a Whole Foods down in Florida a couple of years ago.  Frankly, my “feedback” consisted of any number of pretty harsh swear words and comments like “ Are you out of your freaking mind?” and “What the hell am I supposed to do then?”  But I’m glad that Citibank listened to me.
Or it could have been that time when trying to pay for airline tickets while I was in India and Citibank was supposed to send a code to my phone in order to complete the transaction.  Three attempts; three fails.  I was not a happy customer.

So far so good.  Nice little polite, customer friendly words.  But then on page 2 of the highlighted changes to my new Card Agreement I read this:

Revised Terms as of 11/14/2015

Late Fee:  Up to $38
Retuned payment fee: Up to $38
(I have never incurred a late fee in the 12 years I’ve had a Citibank credit card so this part didn’t attract my attention.)

But what follows certainly did:

“You have the right to reject the change to the Late and Returned Payment Fee.  If you reject this change you may use your account under the current Late and Returned Payment Fee terms until the end of your current membership year or the expiration date on your card, whichever is later.  At that time, we will close your account, which means you will no longer be able to use your account for new transactions.  You can reject the change to the late and Returned Payment Fee by calling us at 1-865-565-7030 by 11/14/2015.”

Huh.  So let me get this straight.  I have the right to reject your new Late and Returned Payment Fee terms, but if I do you will  cancel my account?  WTF?  Isn’t this like a doctor informing his patient “Sure, Mr. XYZ, you can keep the leg but if we don’t amputate it you are going to die’?    They call this a “choice?”  A “right?” 

This choice I am presented with by Citibank, so reminds of when the Reagan Administration was pushing deregulation as a means of providing more “choices” for the American consumer.  Sure, just like “cutting taxes creates jobs” it sounded real good.  I mean who could quarrel with more choices? The practical, real world, result?  I have to purchase a package of 800 channels from Comcast in order to get the two channels (HBO and Showtime) I actually want that aren’t included in their basic package.  I can, of course, choose to watch moss growing on the north side of an oak tree on Channel 654 whenever I want. Oh, so many choices!  Or take the airline industry.  Aren’t you glad that now we have so many options to choose from when we fly one of our four major airlines?  Either a $245 Coach fare from DC to Miami or $3,480 First Class on the same flight.   Now there’s a choice I would love to be able to choose but sadly my 401(k) has to last me for at least a couple of more years. 

Well, okay then, so much for the customer friendliness of my “New Account Terms” and Citibank’s newly redesigned and easy to read “Do What We Want Or We’re Going To Fuck You Over New Account Terms” document.  Sheeesh!

Aren’t you glad that our corporate life partners are taking such good care of all of us?  Even providing us customers with the ability to make choices in our dealings with them?  Damn how impressive is that!

Have a good day.


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