Citibank’s $392.20 Web and Communications Failure

Today’s communications failure comes from Citibank’s credit card division, Citi Cards. For years, I had been amassing points in their Driver’s Edge program, good for rebates on automobile purchase or service. At some point in 2011, my account was converted to a ThankYou Rewards program. All along, my online account at citicards.com has shown my Driver’s Edge balance as $392.20. Great! So, earlier this month, I had new brakes installed on my car. When I ponied up the $900 for my brake job, I was glad to know that close to $400 would be covered. I found the Driver’s Edge redemption form online, filled it out, attached my receipt, and emailed it in.

Imagine my surprise when I received a letter from the ubiquitous and likely fictional “S. Larson, Customer Service” stating that my rebates had expired:

My letter from "S. Larson" stating that my points had expired.

Expired?

The web says otherwise:

My online account shows $392.20 available.

So I contacted S. Larson’s group and told them there must be a mistake — my balance online still shows $392.20. Not only that, but it specifically calls out 0.00 points as having expired.

I heard back not from S., but from Justin, who informed me that my card was converted in March 2011 and that I had 12 months from conversion date to use my points. They claim they had notified me by mail, and that they could not reinstate my points. But let’s be honest — who actually reads that stuff? Besides, as a paperless customer, I expect my communications to arrive via email. I was especially conditioned to this expectation because it seems all of my communications from Citi Cards *do* arrive by email. Except the important matter of point expiration and money in my bank.

I have looked back over every single Citi Cards email I’ve received going back to 2010 — and not one of them mentions my card converting to a new points program. I see the typical statement ready notice or online account activity confirmation — but not a single communication regarding points, account conversion, or expiration.

The history of my emails from Citi Cards. If my account was converted in March 2011, where is the notification?

I had been accumulating those points for probably close to 10 years, and had banked on them as a cushion for costly service repairs. I had probably redeemed over $800 over the years. Those points represented money in the bank for me, literally. Citibank’s failure to live up to communications expectations, combined with their misleading web site has literally cost me $392.20. By the way, if you know anything about earning credit card points, you’ll know that the $392.20 actually represents $39,220 that I had spent on my Citibank card over the years. (Not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars I had spent previously and had redeemed for points.)

So, Citibank, congratulations on your $392.20 failure to communicate and to plant your flag firmly in the land of customer indifference— where you join a select assortment of other ignominious companies who care little about their customers or their experiences.

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