Bank Late fees take on new meaning.

If you’ve ever dealt with US bank’s call centre you know this story would be true.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank. Here is the exchange :

Family Member: ‘I am calling to tell you she died back in January.’

Citibank: ‘The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.’

Family Member: ‘Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.’

Citibank: ‘Since it is two months past due, it already has been.’

Family Member: ‘So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?’

Citibank: ‘Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!’

Family Member: ‘Do you think God will be mad at her?’

Citibank: ‘Excuse me?’

Family Member: ‘Did you just get what I was telling you – the part about her being dead?’

Citibank: ‘Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.’

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: ‘I’m calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.’

Citibank: ‘The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.’

Family Member: ‘You mean you want to collect from her estate?’

Citibank: (Stammer) ‘Are you her lawyer?’

Family Member: ‘No, I’m her great nephew.’ (Lawyer info was given)

Citibank: ‘Could you fax us a certificate of death?’

Family Member: ‘Sure.’ (Fax number was given )

After they get the fax :

Citibank: ‘Our system just isn’t setup for death. I don’t know what more I can do to help.’

Family Member: ‘Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won’t care.’

Citibank: ‘Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.’

(What is wrong with these people?!?)

Family Member: ‘Would you like her new billing address?’

Citibank: ‘That might help…’

Family Member: ‘ Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.’

Citibank: ‘Sir, that’s a cemetery!’

Family Member: ‘And what do you do with dead people on your planet???’

11 thoughts on “Bank Late fees take on new meaning.

  1. Bloody hell JC, I have always maintained that nobody should be allowed into the public service until they have done a few years in the private sector to give them the feel for how things are done in the real world on a commercial basis. This proves me wrong.

    I hope the unprincipled, uncaring, bureaucratic bastards you are referring to never get to join the ranks of the tax eaters where they obviously belong, as they are worse than some of the people in there now. (A link might be handy.)

  2. Jim

    US bank call centers require an IQ of less then 30, which means only a functional brain stem. This person wouldn’t have been able to cogitate what death means.

    Then it’s also Citibank suggesting an even lower IQ.

    I kid you not, I read somewhere that the Treasury Sec. has been getting hugely impatient with Citi as they are far too bureaucratic! LOL.

    I found it in trader’s blog in the comments section and will try to link it.

  3. Mate, I knew it was too crazy for anyone to make it up. A less than 30 IQ certainly describes those in this article, Is it possible to have an IQ in the minus figures?

  4. It sounds like dealing with the billing department of either of the major Australian telcos when they have stuffed up the bill. They are a bunch of bureacratic time wasters with no ability to fix an obvious problem nor the inclination to find out how to. Supervisors are little better. On one level I pity them for their obvious disempowerment and on another I’m infuriated by the utter stupidity of the procedures they administer. Rigid processes would be tolerable if they actually worked.

    Jim I think it is a mistake to assume that the private sector is better at organising things. The problem in my book is not that the Australian public sector isn’t well run, it is that it is busy running things that people simply wouldn’t pay for if given an option. The beauty of private bureacracies is that they can go into liquidation. Although some American banks seem to have found an escape hatch.

  5. “I have always maintained that nobody should be allowed into the public service until they have done a few years in the private sector to give them the feel for how things are done in the real world on a commercial basis. This proves me wrong.”

    I don’t think it’s wrong – it just needs to be the non-banking private sector. Basically, any company that gets big enough to have a large legal department, becomes inefficient and bureaucratic.

  6. Yup,

    Pretty much resonates with my own experience of Citibank’s Australian card division – who reduced my wife to tears before I tore up their plastic.

    If Citibank goes belly up in the GFC due to their mis-management and gross incompetence – I for one will cheer the demise of another shambolic bureaucracy.

  7. Basically, any company that gets big enough to have a large legal department, becomes inefficient and bureaucratic.

    I am inclined to agree on this. When I worked for Geopeko we became a drilling contracting company in our own right instead of just the drilling division of Peko Wallsend. Contracts are normally in the form of a letter of agreement, stating prices, the terms, hole sizes etc and are rarely more than five pages long.

    When the agreement for the first contract was submitted the legal department returned it as a thirty page diatribe of legalese bullshit that the client wanted nothing to do with. The whole thing had to be thrown out and the original reinstated, but that took some hard talking with the directors to do it.

    We almost lost what to most contractors would be seen as a ‘company making’ contract over it.

  8. Legal departments are good at killing workable agreements. I suspect that they know very little about business. If a contract is more than 5 pages then I doubt people really know what they are agreeing to.

  9. Fleeced/ Jim,

    Anecdote from a brief experience trying to introduce physical commodity trading to an investment bank.

    Goober to bank lawyer:

    “This is a completely conventional document format that has governed millions of tonnes of mineral exports to north Asia for thirty years”.

    Bank Lawyer to Goober:

    “This is an operational document ! Totally unacceptable – all banks want to know from trading counterparties is how they will rip their money back out of them in a default.”

    Hopefully the investment banks will all retreat back to recycling other people’s money as the credit bubble implodes.

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