Monday, 18 June 2012

Citibank

Today I went to a branch, withdrawn all my funds and ended my short relationship with Citibank.

I wanted to open an account to better manage my trips to the us and the euro zone. I was attracted by their free USD and EUR so after consulting with some colleagues that gave me ok feedback, I submitted an online application. Few weeks later I received a letter in the mail asking to provide some proof of address. Once I sent it back, took few days to receive a letter saying that they were processing my application. Finally, a letter saying that the application was rejected. I phoned them up and they told it was because I spent less then 3 years in the UK. Knowing that this was not the real reason (colleagues of mine have been in the UK only for few months and have successfully opened an account) I kept pushing, asked to talk to a manager which eventually said the there was absolutely no problem and the accounts where opened.

Funny that the phone clerk suggested to wait the 4 extra months I needed to comply with the 3 years rule.

So, few more weeks to get the welcome package and the debit card and finally I can go to the bank to deposit my funds. Speaking to the manager, he explains me that the "free" account is not longer free as there as been a change in the terms, so, unless I open a GBP account as well, there is 5£ fee for each foreign account. That is 120£ per year!
I refused to open the account right there (it is free if you meet some conditions but I would have to move all my direct debits from my other bank) and said I would think about it.
Once home, I decided to go for it anyway and I filled in an application form within the online banking service. Again, it took few days to receive a new letter saying that they were looking at the account. After 2-3 weeks I finally received a welcome package (lots of jada jada on paper) and a confirmation that the GBP account had been opened. I logged in but no traces of the account. I wait a week, no traces. I send an email to the customer care. No answer. I send another mail and yet no answer. Note that they say they will answer within 3 days which, besides being an enormous amount of time in today's world, is a promise that they were not able to maintain.
Obviously I also called the phone banking which could not help me with my missing account (besides, why is the phone quality of all call centers so bad?)

So, after 80 days since I first contacted CITI, my account was still not setup properly. I had no choices to go and close it and to say never again!

Why you should not use them:

  • Their online system is mediocre.
  • If you lose your card and you block it, they also block your online account.
  • They give you a single card no matter how many accounts you have with them which makes it unpractical if you want for instance have a joint account with your wife.
  • The switch account linked with your card you have to call them, you can't do it online.
  • Their customer care sucks. If you send them a message they tell you they will respond within 3 days!
  • They have only 2 branches in London and none is open on Saturdays.
  • They are incredibly verbose, sending a letter for everything, probably to make up for they're slowness.

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