Got An Inactive Macy's Store Account? Here's Your New Citibank Mastercard

Recently, a Consumerist tipster sent in an internal memo from Macy’s explaining that the store was “flipping” 3.5 million inactive store accounts into Citibank Mastercards. The memo reads:

“Approximately 3.5 million inactive (24-48 months) Macy’s accounts have been selected to “flip” to the Citibank Mastercard. That means the customer will be sent a Citibank Mastercard to replace their inactive Macy’s card. “

The “flip,” as they call it, was “opt-out”—which means that if you missed a recent letter from Macy’s explaining that they were going to open a credit card for you, you can expect a Citibank Mastercard in the mail.

We hadn’t heard of this questionable-sounding practice before, so we showed the memo to Elizabeth Warren, consumer law expert and Harvard professor. She hadn’t heard of it either, but expressed concerns about what this action by Macy’s might do to a customer’s credit score.

We were concerned, too. It didn’t seem possible for a store to simply decide to open an unrelated credit card account for customers who had inactive store cards. How was it happening?

Information Sharing

As far as we can tell, Macy’s is taking advantage of an “information sharing” clause in their original store card agreement. The clause states that Macy’s is allowed to share information with Citibank as an “affiliate” of Macy’s. Opting-out of the information sharing agreement requires calling or writing Macy’s. We suspect few card holders bothered.

Nowhere in the clause does it say that the term “information sharing” means that Citibank has the right to open new credit card accounts for inactive Macy’s store card holders. So why are they doing it?

Professor Ronald Mann of Columbia University is an expert on electronic commerce and the credit card industry, so we asked what he thought of Macy’s memo. Although Professor Mann had never heard of “flipping” either, he speculated that what was really going on was a “transfer of data” from Macy’s to Citibank.

” By aggregating this information with other information CitiBank has about these people, CitiBank would enhance its ability to design products that would both be profitable for CitiBank and attractive for these people. I expect that CitiBank paid Macy’s a substantial amount for the data,” he told Consumerist in an email.

It does seems likely that, in this case, the term “information sharing” is being interpreted to mean that valuable but “inactive” Macy’s customer’s accounts can be sold or transferred to Citibank, and Citibank can choose to open an account for said customers providing they do not opt-out.

Credit Score Implications

While we do not have specific information about the methods Citibank is using when they “flip” the inactive Macy’s accounts, we find it hard to believe that it will not affect credit scores.

Our best guess is that if you’re an inactive Macy’s card customer and you don’t opt-out in time, Citibank will have to ping your credit to determine the appropriate rate and limit to give you, which would look like an application for new credit and would drop your score temporarily.

At that point, if Citibank decided to give you a different limit than your Macy’s account had, your available/utilized credit ratio would change, which would affect your score either positively or negatively, depending on the individual. It’s our understanding that store cards are weighted equally to credit cards by FICO for this part of the score.

Canceling the inactive Macy’s account and replacing it with a new Citibank account would shorten credit history for some consumers, a change which would lower some scores.

The effect this new credit card will have on a credit score depends entirely on the individual. For some, it may help. Others will see a drop in their score that they did not know was coming. For those consumers who are mortgage or car loan shopping, the new card could pose trouble.

Privacy

We don’t know exactly what steps Macy’s has taken to ensure that it did not mail “opt-out” forms (and, eventually, credit cards) to old or outdated addresses. In addition, receiving an (apparently) unsolicited credit card in the mail is a “symptom” of ID theft and will likely alarm many consumers who disregarded Macy’s original “opt-out” letter as “junk mail.”

We expressed these concerns to Professor Warren, wondering if we might be making a mountain out of a mole hill. Turns out, she’s worried too, and said that although “flipping” seemed merely “sleazy” at first, she now thought it “costly to consumers.”

Consumerist called Macy’s Credit Services and asked if the accounts were really being “flipped.” Macy’s confirmed, and stressed that consumers could “opt-out.” We asked if the Citibank Mastercards offered any Macy’s benefits or were branded by Macy’s. Macy’s said the cards were standard Citibank Mastercards with no ties to Macy’s. They also confirmed that after 25 months in inactivity, Macy’s store cards would be “flipped.”

In addition, “flipped” customers can’t cancel by calling Macy’s. All cancellations must go through Citibank.

We have to wonder how Macy’s and Citibank can justify sending “opt-out” notices for something as sensitive as a new credit card account. As Professor Warren said, “I think the appropriate move here is to send a letter saying, ‘We’re closing all inactive Macy accounts. If you would like a Citicard instead, check the box.’ Why don’t they do that?”

Good question.

http://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/macys_memo-thumb.gif?w=478&h=695

Comments

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  1. c26nyc says:

    Target did the exact same thing to me.

  2. Pelagius says:

    Nice post.

    How can the credit card industry say that it’s serious about fighting ID theft and still follow these sort of risky practices?

  3. Bulldog9908 says:

    Lowes did this to me about 8 months ago with no warning, just got the new card in the mail one day. I don’t even remember what bank it was with, but possibly Citi.

  4. joopiter says:

    “Customers first, Integrity always” – might be time to change that tagline Macy’s. Something mor along the lines of “Profit first, customers a distant second… Integrity? Never heard of it.”

  5. Kaneohe7 says:

    Helzberg Jewelry did this to our store account as well. A year later they asked us if we wanted to open another store account.

  6. Amy Alkon says:

    Oh, this is horrible. My inactive Macy’s card may go to an old address. I woke up at 5am to work on my column for my deadline, but I just got up from the computer and tore up several drawers looking for my Macy’s card. I’m calling the scumbags now. If anybody else needs the number:

    1-800-BUY-MACY

    These scumbags. I just closed my account (which I hadn’t used since 2000, since I buy everything with an airlines reward Visa) and I’ll never shop at Macy’s again. And I told them that. Turns out I had changed the address to my correct address…but I had a moment of panic that I’d maybe forgotten. Phew!

    Cancel your Macy’s card and tell them why.

  7. MameDennis says:

    I had something similar happen to me with a musicians’ supply place. They discontinued their private card, and existing customers got a new one from an unrelated company.

    I didn’t realize this until I checked my credit report. Needless to say, I FREAKED out over the mystery card.

    Turns out, I’d thrown out the new card with the rest of my junk mail. It’s canceled now, but I shudder to think about how easy it would have been for someone to use that card. (And I’m extremely careful about my mail–I shred those car insurance offers that go to “MameDennis OR Current Resident”!)

  8. dbeahn says:

    Wonder how many of those inactive cards don’t even have the correct address associated with them anymore. Damn nice of Citi to be sending free money to whoever gets those cards. Of course, Citi will likely ruin the credit of the people who’s NAMES are on the cards when it turns out the people stealing the cards aren’t paying the bill…

  9. Shadowman615 says:

    @c26nyc: Yup, Target tried to pull that crap on me too. We opted out, which took several tries, if I recall correctly.

    With Target, this wasn’t an inactive card, this was one we used every month.

  10. Chicago7 says:

    As I see it, if it’s inactive, they should only have 2 choices: leave it inactive or cancel it. As DBEAHN says, most of them are probably people who moved or died and they are sending the cards to somebody else’s address.

  11. Amy Alkon says:

    Great work, Consumerist. I linked to your piece and urged readers of my blog to cancel their cards, and proposed the blog item for linkage by my blog syndicator, Pajamas Media. Get the word out to these corporations that they can’t do stuff like this without suffering financial consequences. Clearly the “Customers First – Integrity Always” is an Everest of horseshit.

    Picture of my cut-up Macy’s card here:

    [www.advicegoddess.com]

  12. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Someone ought to file charges against Citi/Macy’s for identity theft or credit card fraud or whatever applies here. Sure, it wouldn’t go anywhere, but the process of straightening it out would make for some fun media coverage.

    Great article, Meg. I’m really impressed.

  13. kelbear says:

    That is ridiculous. Mail is not a valid medium for informing someone of something this important when you get a dozen credit card offers in the mail all claiming to be “IMPORTANT CREDIT CARD INFORMATION”. I had to find out about this from an unaffiliated website?!

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for this card so I can cut it, I am @#%^ing pissed that they are screwing with MY credit score. And worse, there’s no way to fight back.

  14. noquarter says:

    This brings up something I’ve been wondering about recently – as the date on which I receive several of my bills in the mail creeps closer and closer to the due date for their payment:

    Isn’t there some legal requirement to provide some reasonable amount of notice and time to respond? This memo shows a letter mailing date of July 20th and a response deadline of August 10th. Assuming standard USPS delays, that’s barely more than two weeks’ time in which to respond. Is that legal? How little notice can they legally give?

  15. hollerhither says:

    This happened to me a couple of years ago with a Macy’s Visa — the whole card just showed up one day with a huge credit line. I called with a WTF? and was told I could cancel the card, which I did. I think I had to reapply for a new Macy’s card, though (which sees little use). I do not remember seeing the Visa on my credit report, but it was still a huge pain, not to mention a little scary re potential identity theft.

    Store credit cards in general pretty much suck.

  16. How is this legal? Agreeing that someone can share information about you isn’t the same as, ‘Hey, just open up credit cards in my name whenever you want!’

    I never understood how credit card companies can just give you cards you never asked for. How can they decide to make you a customer? No one else does that. Amazon doesn’t send me books and then demand payment. The cashier at Publix doesn’t toss in extra bottles of soda and add them to the total.

    I just don’t see how it’s even legal. You shouldn’t have to call companies up and inform them that you don’t want to open accounts with them.

  17. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    Only transactions I am directly responsible for should affect my credit score.

    Flipping like this sure seems illegal, but I’m sure Macys/Target/et.al. have covered all their legal bases with lawyer-approved weasly words.

  18. Red_Eye says:

    OMG WTF! You know of all the stupid sleazy ideas. My wife and I have moved a few times in the last 6 years, no telling if her former Macy’s account mailing address is current!!!!

    So what person will be getting a nice new credit card with my wifes name on it!!!!!

    We haven’t kept up with the mailing on it because its paid off and they stopped sending statements…

  19. Red_Eye says:

    I wonder how big a kickback the ailing macys is getting for this

  20. maevro says:

    Sweet, I am glad I still buy a pair of boxers and socks every once in a while at Macy’s, since Heralds Square is just up 7th Ave.

    This is still pretty dick of them to do.

  21. missdona says:

    Gateway did this to me a couple of years back. It turns out the Citi MC they gave me has amazing promotions:

    For purchases over $99, 3 months no finance charge

    For purchases over $249, 6 months no finance charge

    It’s great for big ticket items, like vacations but not great where I need purchase protection (electronics, etc).

  22. Valerae says:

    I couldn’t believe it when I got my notice a few weeks ago. It just seemed so slimy. I won’t give my business to Citibank for a number of reasons and was appalled that my account could’ve just been turned over to them. I called the number right away to opt out, but now I’m seriously considering dropping my Macy’s account altogether for pulling this kind of crap. Obviously I don’t shop their often or this wouldn’t be happening, but I happily gave them my business any time I needed some new clothing or household items. ugh.

  23. Sixtyminutes says:

    If you think you’ve closed your Macy’s account, you may want to double check. I closed my Macy’s card a couple of years back (with a conformation letter included) only to find out later that my account had not been closed, but marked as inactive. I found this out while trying to open an account again to take advantage of the extra 20% off. I had to call a few more times to get it closed. What a pain!

  24. Pelagius says:

    I’m moving overseas for a while soon. Is there any way to put out a general notice to credit companies not to send unsolicited cards and offers to my old addresses?

  25. FunPaul says:

    Thanks, mine was one of them. I think I will now cease to do business with them.

  26. MissPinkKate says:

    You know, there was something weird on my credit card a few weeks ago, and this article brings it all together- I opened a Bloomie’s charge, and they took the liberty of opening a Macy’s VISA on my behalf. WHAT THE HELL?? Closing both accounts right now.

  27. MissPinkKate says:

    I applied for a Bloomie’s card last July, and looking at my credit report now, a separate Visa account was opened on my behalf (Bloomingdales and Macy’s are part of the same company). What the hell? Calling them right now to shut allllll that shit down. Not cool, people!

  28. GetGoGo says:

    @Pelagius:
    You can go to one of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax) and sign up for a 90 day credit fraud alert. This way, in order to get any new credit card activated they have to call you at a number you designate. Works pretty slick.

  29. ElPresidente408 says:

    I don’t know if it’s still being offered, but a while back, anyone with a Ebay & Paypal account could get free credit monitoring from Equifax. I actually get a text message sent to my phone whenever there’s a significant balance change or a new card.

  30. tschepsit says:

    Same thing happened to my wife when Casual Corner/Petite Sophisticate went out of business. Her store card that she got for the 10% off was replaced by a “GE Money” mastercard. It actually had really good terms, including a lengthy 0% BT with no fees offer, so we played the arbitrage game with it.

  31. not_seth_brundle says:
  32. rwelty says:

    Goodyear recently flipped an inactive account of mine to Citibank. I was quite suprised to receive the new Citibank card in the mail, and the customer service rep at Citibank tried quite hard to talk me out of closing the unwanted account.

  33. cindel says:

    Is this legal? I don’t have a Macy’s card however if they do this, will consumers lose their credit history on their CR?

  34. Amy Alkon says:

    If you live in California, I suggest freezing your credit. You can unfreeze it with a PIN that you select. I think it costs $10. You do it if you need to apply for credit for something.

    Here’s a link:

    [www.privacy.ca.gov]

  35. joopiter says:

    Just called to alert my mother about this. She hasn’t used her card in a long time, so she’s pretty sure any opt-out letters or shiny new completely unasked-for Citibank Mastercards were sent to her old address, where the guy who bought her house probably just tossed it in the trash.

    I hope this makes the mainstream news and Macy’s gets ripped a new one over it.

  36. Helvetian says:

    A store card I had for 2 years now, never used it and was sent an upgrade to a Citi World MasterCard. I didn’t want to retain the card, so I merged the credit limit from that new card to my old Citi card from a few years back. So if you do get the card, just merge the limit.

  37. joopiter says:

    Confirmation. Yes they were going to flip my mother’s account. Yes, they sent an opt-out letter. No, they didn’t send it to the right address. The account had not yet been flipped, so no card had been sent out yet. After calling the 1-800-BUY-MACY number and getting a lot of hassle from the call center in India she was able to cancel her account. And in the process of talking to my mom about this, at leasts two people in my office are now planning on canceling their Macy’s cards. Nice going Macy’s.

  38. link7 says:

    I ran my wife’s credit last Friday for a mortgage application and saw three citibank cards! She had an inactive macy’s card and this explains it. Her score was still very good, but it was alarming to see things on there that we had no idea about. She has never opened an account with citibank ever.

  39. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Inevitably, these unasked for credit cards are going to end up in the hands of identity thieves. I smell class action lawsuits.

  40. epiclulz says:

    I haven’t used my Macy’s card in forever, but after reading this I wanted to cancel it. I called their customer service line on 1 (866)593-2543 and was able to cancel the account without having the Macy’s card number with me (after verifying information). So if you’re worried that you can’t find the card, it’s worth calling them to cancel the account anyway. They’re also sending me confirmation of the closure, which is coming by mail.

  41. castlecraver says:

    Has anyone had any success contacting CitiBank about this before receiving their card? The idiot at 1800-Buy-Macy could no longer even find my account, and we surmised it’d already been flipped, as my dad did indeed get the notice in the mail for me at my old address.

  42. e10 says:

    Thanks for posting this Meg. I called right away and could not get the computer system to recognize my SS#. It made me think that maybe I had canceled the account. Nope. When I was put through to the rep I told her to cancel my account and to make sure I would not receive the citibank card in the mail. She told me that since the opt-out deadline had passed I would be getting the card. I have moved 4 times since i opened the account and never saw the form. After this I asked to speak to a customer service rep. She stopped citibank from issuing the new credit card (she claims). At least the woman was polite and took down my complaint. We’ll see about the card in a few weeks. I wonder how many calls like this they have been getting.

  43. RaslDasl says:

    Didn’t this all start with Macy’s selling their credit card accounts to Citibank? If so, Citi is basically just changing the type of account from one of limited use (only at Macy’s) to a MasterCard that can be used anywhere. Everyone already had a Citi account whether they realized it or not. Stay on top of your credit report, people. I found I had two Macy’s/Citibank accounts due to Macy’s buying a local store I had an account with. I called up and cancelled one and made sure the one left open had the correct address.

  44. agb says:

    Wow, I never thought so many Consumerist readers would have Macy’s cards.

  45. formergr says:

    And this is why I never ever sign up for a store credit card, no matter how good the % off my first purchase is and even knowing that I’d pay off the balance right away. None of my friends has ever understood why I always decline (mostly out of principal since I hate the upsell at checkout), but now I feel very much vindicated. Especially since some posters have listed companies other than Macy’s who have done this before…

  46. fredmertz says:

    Can somebody please do a small amount of proper research here? Macy’s (formerly Federated) sold their credit portfolio to Citibank in July of last year. There is no privacy violation — all of your accounts have been owned by Citibank for more than a year and there is nothing shady about it whatsoever.

  47. Amy Alkon says:

    Everyone already had a Citi account whether they realized it or not.


    Everyone was not expecting a shiny new credit card, usable just about everywhere in the mail.


    I got my Macy’s card probably 15 years ago, probably as part of a promotion, and really never used it. Now, not only will I never use it, I’ll avoid using even my Visa at Macy’s, and I’m encouraging everyone who has a Macy’s card to call and cancel and tell Macy’s they don’t patronize businesses run without integrity.


    I hope others will do the same.

  48. castlecraver says:

    @fredmertz:
    There is nothing shady about it whatsoever???

    You sir, are an idiot.

  49. Melov says:

    I work for the call center and I have never seen that memo, but this program has happened. You’re a little late on the posting. Customers can no longer opt out of this procedure. If you haven’t opted out by now then your card is definitely being processed and you’ll have to complain to citi about it. DONT CALL MACYS WE DONT WANT TO HEAR YOUR BITCHING! Thx :)

    This isn’t the first time Macy’s has done this. Before Citi merged with Federated, Macy’s opened up Stand Alone Visa accounts for customers that had inactive Macy’s accounts, and they did it in the same fashion. The program failed horribly and almost none of the stand along accounts exist to this date.

    There will be no “information flip”. Whoever told you that is dumb as it’s just not possible to change one thing to another with the CRAs.
    Citi and Federated issue all Macy’s cards under DSNB. As far as I’ve heard, this will count as a new inquiry on your credit report, and we were told not to bring it up to customers. HAHA
    Trust me, everything being done is legal, and I do agree this is a very dumb move.

  50. Melov says:

    @Amy Alkon: It’s too late to call Macy’s about this issue. Please do not waste your time. You need to call citi for more information regarding weather or not you’ve been opted into this program.

    The number for Citi is 1-866-510-2761.

  51. Melov says:

    @castlecraver: I love how you automatically call the CSR an idiot because he can’t find your account when it’s actually your fault for not even knowing the account number. Get outta here

  52. Melov says:

    @e10: We had a boom about 3-4 weeks ago, but now the calls are rare. It wasn’t a big deal, really.

  53. castlecraver says:

    @Melov: Wrong! I guess there are at least two idiots working at the Macy’s card call center. Don’t assume you know the circumstances of a specific situation just because you’ve memorized the standard “flowchart” CSR responses.

    If you’re here to stand up for your employer and this shady bullshit, prepare to get burned. If instead, as indicated by your previous post, you’re here to demand people not call Macy’s and complain, or laugh at peoples’ credit getting pinged without their knowledge or consent, I can only hope some other shitty company like Macy’s or Citibank decides somehow they’re qualified to make your financial choices for you someday, and you feel similarly violated. I suspect, however, that if you’ve drank the corporate kool-aid as much as your comments indicate, and given that your intellect and personality are characteristic of your garden-variety CSR, your most consequential financial decision involves which broken stereo to pawn so you can make rent.

  54. cgreen4no says:

    There was a very important point that the author of this article left out – All of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s charge accounts are owned and serviced by Citigroup. This is not an additional line of credit that is opened, simply renamed.

    link regarding Macy’s/Citigroup agreement

    [www.bizjournals.com]

  55. Her Grace says:

    Target did this to my mom, apparently. The way she tells it, she threw a fit on the phone with the CS rep and cancelled her Target cards–both the existing and the new one she didn’t ask for.

    Love you, Mom!

  56. Disillusioned1 says:

    I had a Foley’s card. Macy’s bought Foley’s. If I remember correctly I received a letter saying Macy’s wouldn’t force a Macy’s credit card on Foley’s cardholders unless they wanted one. I didn’t so I didn’t ask for one. When I received notice of this Citicard, I foolishly ignored it thinking it was another card offer-which I didn’t want. Now I have a card on the way-which I didn’t need, and a credit report ding which I certainly didn’t need, especially when saving for a house. Has anyone received these cards in the mail yet?

  57. sroelofs says:

    What’s not been pointed out is that those 3.5 million inactive accounts represent almost 13 percent of all Macy’s credit cardholders — before the thousands of cards that were cut up by former Marshall Field’s cardholders. Another indication that Macy’s self-appointed reign as “America’s Department Store” is going to be a short one.

  58. tobias says:

    It’s really funny how many people read this “article” and believed
    everything in it as fact. First off, there is so much spin to this
    article, the National Enquirer is taking notes. Second, half of the
    article is opinion and exaggeration. Third, it fails to point out that
    this “memo” NEVER circulated through the Macy’s credit company. Their
    internal memos do NOT look like that. Yes, I worked there once, and
    while I do not agree with all of their marketing strategies, I can spot
    stupidity when I see it.

    For all of those on here bitching that Macy’s did not have their
    current address, um, whose fault is that? Do you think your credit
    companies follow your every move and just know when you decide to move?
    Don’t think so. Try taking a little responsibility there.

    As for those who got on the phone and cancelled right away, you
    probably weren’t doing that much business with them in the first place,
    so how exactly were you punishing them? Was this supposed to be noticed
    by the “you people” who answer the phones and try to help you? Believe
    me it is, and if you are a rude customer, good riddance.

    When I worked there, I came to realize something, of the 10 million
    plus customers that have accounts with Macy’s, most of the calls were
    from people who want something for nothing. Last time I checked, credit
    card companies are not trying to pay you to shop.

    Oh, and for the person who claims Bloomingdale’s took it upon
    themselves to open them a Macy’s Visa, bull! They may be owned by the
    same company, but they do not cross. You applied at Macy’s as well, you
    just wanted to contribute some of your own bull to the heap that had
    already been thrown.

  59. tobias says:

    @castlecraver: hmm, personal attacks
    because you disagree. So, just because the poster works for the company
    and stands up to disagreements, he or she deserves to be attacked?
    Bravo, you outline the kind of customer most customer service reps
    would love to hang up on. Here’s an idea, don’t like it, don’t do it.
    Don’t shop at Macy’s, Target, Sears, or any other place that extends
    credit to customers. Maybe you’ll be much happier for it.

  60. Melov says:

    @sroelofs: It wasn’t 3.5 million. As stated numerous times, this memo is not legit. It was only a few hundred thousand.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Ok, so let me defend Citibank on this. I am a Citi employee who is an account superviser. I work in the Retail Private Label dept. and handle the superviser calls concerning this all day.
    1.Your information wasn’t shared by Macy’s or bought by Citi. We are the backing company for all Federated store cards. Your account was with us in the first place.
    2.Letters were sent about 6-8 weeks ago giving you this information. A lot of you said you didn’t recieve the letter. Well then why did you recieve the card?
    3.If you did not change you information with us if you moved and it goes to the wrong address, it’s not a bank error if you do not update your address with your creditors.
    4.It is in the terms of the card that you signed as a legal and binding contract that we reserve the right to change the terms of the card.
    5.As far as your credit report goes, it will show as a transferred account.
    6.A 0 balance does not mean your account is closed.
    7.The cards that you recieve are not active and you must call to activate the card. We will not send live cards in the mail.
    8.If the card is recieved for a deceased person, it is the person who is handling the deceased party’s affairs to contact the creditors to inform us of this.
    9.These cards are a better benefit to the account holders because we are lowering the apr’s and giving them more buying power as well as 0% interest on qualifying purchases.
    10.I know a lot of you are upset about this conversion of your accounts. However you need to stop and think that we have no bearing in the company’s choice to change the terms of the cards. So please keep in mind that if you call in to launch a complaint about your account, you are talking to someone who is just doing their job and working to supoort our families. Don’t be disrespectful to the person you get on the phone please. We are there to help you and resolve your issues. Please keep it on a professional level and don’t make it worse than it has to be. Afterall, think of it this way. If your company did something to upset a customer, would you like to be talked to that way when you have no bearing in your companies choices?
    As far as that memo goes, it wasn’t circulated in the stores. Also it is a fake! We actually changed 3.6 million accounts to Citicards.

  62. Anonymous says:

    By the way, I forgot to mention in my previous post, IT DOES NOT show as a hard inquiry on yuor credit report!

  63. Anonymous says:

    Citigirl encourages us to be respectful to the person we get on the phone. I regret to inform you that by the time we actually talk to a human, we’ve been through the various “press 1, press the number of your account, etc.” that we are already in a state of anger.

    Citigirl, perhaps you can take off your lawyerly colored glasses and put yourself in my shoes. I come home and get a citi card in the mail, one i never asked for. I see there is a number to cancel. I’m bothered by the idea that a card I never signed up for or asked for was delivered to me.

    I am thinking this is some sort of scam. Someone is trying to steal my identity, I worry. So I call the number to cancel, but have to provide them with my social security number to cancel. This certainly makes me think it is a scam, all the more.

    I then call Citi, getting their number from the web. The customer service rep explains that this is not their account, that it is another branch or some such. She is apologetic. She is helpful. She explains that she too would be upset upon receiving a card she never requested. She gives me another number to call.

    I call that number and must jump through numerous hoops to be connected with a customer service rep. By this time, my blood is boiling. When they tell me it’s my old Macy’s card account being turned into a Citi card, I tell them I never wanted this. The card is cancelled. Then I am asked if there is anything else they can do for me. I reply that I do not want any more accounts opened in my name.

    That’s when the lawyerly response like above begins: “you did sign up for it.” No, I did not. I signed up for a Macy’s card back when it was Macy’s. The customer service rep in this case was probably reading from the same memo you were.

    Here’s a hint on how to handle the future callers who are already pissed off before you answer the phone. APOLOGIZE for the problem. “Let me take care of that. We didn’t realize this would be such ha problem, we were only trying to help, I’m very sorry. I can see how you were upset by it.”

    Give that a try, see if it doesn’t work better. Clearly, your post indicates that you are receiving many angry responses to this decision on your part. Perhaps the anger is legitimate. I know the damage this has done to our non-relationship. I will forever think of Citi as the credit card company that makes bad decisions and then allows their under-paid, over-worked staff to handle the fallout.

  64. Danj3ris says:

    @citigirl: It had better not show up as a hard inquiry. I would hate to think that a credit card I never applied for has suddenly altered my credit score.

    Let me ask you this. If I call that number that came along in the documentation to cancel my account, does that count as a “hard cancellation”?

    I would hate to think that my canceling a credit card account I never applied for has suddenly altered my credit score.

  65. Anonymous says:

    CITI_NO_GOOD you know as well as I do that if you are mad about whatever issue it is you have, does that give you the right to talk like a vile uneducated idiot to whoever answers the phone? And it’s your issue if you don’t read your terms when you sign an application! I bet you will from now on though huh? I will not apologize for your problem because it’s just that…your problem! You didn’t read you terms or your mail! As with any credit card account you have with whatever bank/store, that right is reserved in all of them. What gives you the right to call me foul names and use that language with us? Is that abuse really needed in a conversation between 2 adults? As far as the angry responses go, we have more people activating the cards than we do closing them. And they are grateful because that is their only means in getting a major credit card. I only take maybe 5-6 calls a day on this matter. As far when you call in to close the account, it is reported as a closed account at your request. So the question remains unanswered, how would you feel if I called you at work talking down to you like a peice of scum if your company did something you have no control over? I am sick and tired of you people being so rude when all you have to do is read your stuff that is mailed to you and just simply respond without being vile and vulgar! READ YOUR MAIL AND TERMS people, not a hard task.

  66. Flynn says:

    Citigirl, don’t try the “read your mail” arguments. The marketing departments of your company (as well as most others) has been playing the mail obfuscation game for YEARS to try and get people to open junk mail. That’s my prime argument to why junk mail should be abolished…it gets to the point where it takes so much time to sift the wheat out of the chaff that most people toss ANYTHING that looks like a credit card solicitation, whether it is or not.

    That cleverly hidden “here’s your opt out” letter was probably designed to look like every other credit solicitation in the hopes we’ll miss it. It was either intentional, in which case it’s understandable if people missed it, or it wasn’t, but it was a side effect of a decade of junk mail created by your industry.

  67. Anonymous says:

    Whether or not if looks like junk mail to you, it does say on the envelope important information about your Macy’s account! So in fact that is your issue! So the question is again, does that give you the right to talk to someone in such a vulgar manner? NO IT DOES NOT!

  68. Anonymous says:

    Having received one of the unsolicited Citi cards, admittedly my wife and I were angry. Neither of us recall receiving and “opt out” letter which is not to say we did not. We usually throw away reams of what appears to be junk mail each week.

    Citigirl, while absolutely correct in saying that there’s no justification for rudeness and vulgarity from those as angry as we are, may be in the wrong business – like it or not, it’s human nature and in this day and age of identity theft and other scams, consumers are going to react in ways that may be descibed as uncivil.

    Obviously, Macy’s and Citi made an enormous goof from a policy standpoint and exacerbated the problem by poor communications and leaving it up to people like Citigirl to take the heat for management’s greedly, expedient, stupidity.

    Finally, hiding behind the legalese in a credit cards Terms & Conditions is a specious argument at best. Every card issuer knows that the average consumer is not going to go out and hire a lawyer to explain the fine print. Though ignorance is no defense from the law (or terms and conditions) cards issuers have a moral and ethical obligation to treat consumers the same way their call center reps such as Citigirl wants to be treated – with respect.

  69. Xerloq says:

    Citigirl, I’ve got some important information about your Viagra subscription, and some vital information about some hot stock picks you should look at, and steamy pictures of you from the vacation to Lake Winnetetalonka last Octobruary. By the way, they all will be delivered mixed with the weekly ad circulars and Val-u-crap coupon mailings.

    Too much junk! Camouflaged opt-outs are sinister and sneaky. We know you didn’t control the mailings, but you wouldn’t give us the names and numbers of those who did, would you. That means it’s your job, however sucky, to listen to the pissed off customers just as much as the happy ones.

    We all wish our jobs could be cupcakes and rainbows.

  70. BigAl56 says:

    I just received an un-solicitied Citi card today and Consumerist was the first place I knew to check.

    Admittedly the Citi CSR was aware of what happened and did her best to keep me calm. She then said that by acccessing my account, she could tell me what merchant was responsible. I agreed, and she told me Macy’s. I don’t recall getting the opt-out but what a crock.

    So, first I’ll post here and next I’ll find an email or phone # for a high ranking Macy’s officer and give them some un-solicited comments.

    I WILL NEVER SET FOOT IN A MACY”S STORE AGAIN!

  71. Anonymous says:

    Michael Gatio

    President

    Macy’s Credit and Customer Services

    9111 Duke Boulevard

    Mason, OH 45040

    513-398-5221

  72. Anonymous says:

    My wife works at citi she tells me the horror stories. Most of the CSRs on the other end of the line think this sucks. they think the who idea is stupid, they think that having to go through half an hour of automated phone systems sucks. But they are just doing their job. Unless someone is flat our rude to you, their is not point and being rude back its just tacky. THeir is no point being rude to anyone above them either. Hate to tell you this, but no one that you could speak with in a phone call to customer service has ANYTHING to do with this. No one! The truth about citi is, yes they have questionable business practices, why would one work for such a place? they offer decent pay, and good benifits and they are paying her way through school, so just be nice, its not like the person on the other end of the phone sent you that card just to piss you off.

  73. Itch says:

    Heh, just got off the phone from my wife about this very thing. Lucky I read the consumerist I know.

    Here’s what gets me. Her card came thru Macy’s just like everyone else but the original company she did biz with was Hechts! Macy’s bought the lock, stock, and barrel. No information ever came after that purchase that her account was still opened and being transferred. In fact Hechts policy was explained at one time as 1 year of inactivity closed the account. Makes me wonder how exactly they got her information.

    As for reading the documentation and all, that fine and dandy. I would still like to know how citibank would try and resolve the situation from any identity that occurs from this. The blame can be laid squarely on their door step.

  74. Anonymous says:

    well, as with ANY credit card, you are not responsible for unauthorized charges.

  75. Anonymous says:

    Citi-girl — Enough of blaming us for not reading our mail. I DID NOT get the opt out mail, and here is the reason why. When I finally got my unsolicited card I noticed that it had been sent to the wrong PO Box. The person who got my card luckily was not a criminal, and gave the mail back to the postmaster who corrected the address and put it in my PO Box. My address has never changed since I opened my Macy’s account. I have had the same PO Box for 25 years. Citi told me Macy’s gave them that wrong address. But I checked my old mail from Macy’s and my address with them was correct. I also checked with Macy’s and they confirmed my correct PO Box was still on file. So it appears that Citi had a database glitch when they ported over Macy’s account information and THEY EITHER MIXED UP NAMES AND ADDRESSES OR TRUNCATED NUMBERS. No wonder so many people have complained about not getting the opt out mailing. I wonder how many people still don’t even know that credit cards in their name were sent to the wrong addresses? I was lucky. I live in a small town with a small post office and they knew me. So I got one out of two mailings.

    And even though I cancelled the card as soon as it came,(and never activated it) it had already been reported by Citi to Experian and Equifax as “New Accounts” with two different “Grantors”. One was PRISM/CBSD. The other was CITIBANK USA NA/CCSM and they each had DIFFERENT DATES dates for the opening date of the account!!! So it looks like two different accounts were opened. That’s great for my credit score.

    If there is a class action suit out there — and I hope there is — I’ve got the hard proof that CITI MADE THE MISTAKE in their mailing. Even if their “flip” was legal — they are still liable for their negligence in their data conversion and mailing.

  76. deweydog says:

    I too recieved this unsolicited mastercard and to say the least I was not happy. I have spent quite a bit of time on the phone to Macy’s and Citibank with numerous front line persons and supervisors/managers etc…

    Citigirl, you say to be curteous to the CSR’s on the phone but I have a hard time doing that when I get disconnected intentionaly 3 times in a row when I ask to speak to a supervisor. Once may be a technical glitch. 3 times is intentional. Guess what – when I am sitting in front of the TV with nothing to do, I call up Citibank and make the person explain it (again !) and then discuss it with them for as long as possible and then I ask for their supervisor and repeat the process. I do this on a regular basis – it’s fun and like I said, I am just watching TV so it’s added entertainment and wasting Citi time and money :-)

    As people mentioned and I said to the Macy’s and Citi employees I talked to, from a very technical standpoint this may be legal but do you truly want your customers to be this unhappy ?

    As far as I am concerned, Macy’s and Citi have no repect for my privacy or credit record.
    As I said to more than one employee, what if someone took this from my mailbox and had a good time for a month until I got the bill for a credit card I didn’t even know I had ?!

    Or even more plausible, what if one (or more ?)of the 3.5 million people receiving this card realize that they could have a friend activate the card, have fun for a month and then say that they never received the card.

    The sad answer to this is Citi probably does not care. Fraud is seen by these companies as a cost of business to be passed on to you and me through higher interest rates and fees.

    I urge anyone not happy with this to let Macy’s know they will not be a customer any more. This is one of the few ways you can influence their behavior.

    I went down to the local Macy’s twice and spoke to the store manager’s and all they wanted to do is basically argue.

    I have contacted my state’s attorney general and they said they have had other complaints and do not regulate Citi as the feds do but they have a question in on the issue.

    I am contacting US Senators and Representatives in my state.
    I urge others with concerns to contact the same in their state.
    I do have contact info below for 2 Citi employees – I urge everyone to give them a call – they would love to talk to you !! :-)

    One said they are an assisant to the president of Macy’s – Mellisa 800-264-0069 ext 2425
    The other is an executive in customer service at Macy’s – 423-477-6844 if no answer hit 0 to get his assistant. He said he is contacting the credit bureaus to have the record of my Citi account removed so if you want that done, give him a call. If only a small percentage of the people who received the card call him, we can keep him busy for a while – at the very least, tying up executives costs the company money :-)

  77. conative78 says:

    This is perfectly legal and several retailers have done it including Sears, Nordstrom, Target and JC Penney. The fact that they sent a letter first is a good thing; however if you have moved the wrong person can get the letter.
    Citibank and Macy’s aren’t evil; they are just giving the consumer another option. I wonder, however, why they don’t issue a Macy’s Visa instead of the Citi MasterCard though; that would make more sense as it is still a Macy’s but now has the buying power of a Visa and a lower APR.

  78. miffraff says:

    I received one of the Citibank cards a few months ago. Frankly I put it aside to investigate further because I was perplexed by it. On the one hand, it had a sticker on the card telling me to call “to activate”. I assumed that meant the account, since I had never opened, or authorized the account. To the right of the card was a message saying “If you do not want the CitiMasterCard, call 800-432-0282 and we will close your account.” Well I was puzzled to think I had to call to cancel an account I did not think I had. I thought it was going to just be one of those long involved marketing calls where someone would try to convince me to take the account if I called them back.

    For some of those posters above who think these marketing practices are all above board, I assure you I never received ANY notification in advance of the card from Macy’s giving me an opportunity to opt out. And for Citigirl above, I called Citibank customer service today and was specifically told that “Citibank purchased inactive Macy’s credit accounts.” Macy’s management must have come out of the airline business. This is an idiotic move that does nothing to attract customers and repeat business. This is almost as lame a move as converting hometown brands like Marshall Fields to Macy’s. I will never shop there again (& I did shop there on occassion using my real Mastercard and AMEX. And now I’m worried about my Bloomy’s card
    since the same geniuses own that company, too.

    I also disagree that this is merely a transfer of the account. My unauthorized card sets a credit limit of $7,000. I am pretty sure my Macy’s card had a smaller limit. If I cancel the unauthorized account, it may now adversely impact my credit rating.

    I will be looking into this further. Meanwhile, here is the link to a list of Macy’s Inc. corporate executives. Chairman, President & CEO Terry Lundgren is apparently based in a corporate office at its flagship store. Macy’s, 151 W. 34th St., New York, NY 10001.

    Call your State Attorney General’s Office, as they look into deceptive practices like this and take action to address them.

  79. miffraff says:

    I did NOT receive any opt out letter and it is not an address issue. Macy’s never sent it to me.

    When I received the CitiMastercard a few months ago,there were two conflicting messages. The credit card has a sticker which says “call to activate”. To the right of the card the letter states, “If you do not want the CitiMasterCard, call 800-432-0282 and we will close your account.” The account I never authorized. This puzzled me and so I held onto the letter, concerned about calling because I did not want to get into a long drawn out discussion with some telemarketer trying to get me to take a card. However, now I find out I have the account anyway, even though I had NO NOTIFICATION. But now I am concerned that if I cancel it my credit rating will be adversely affected, by showing a $7,000 drop in available credit. I am fairly sure my Macy’s card had a much lower limit, so this is not a pure transfer. And to refute a comment above, Citibank customer service told me on December 24 that Citibank purchased inactive Macy’s credit accounts.

    My suspicion is that Macy’s management must have come out of the airline industry with their stellar focus on the customer. But this is the same company that ditched revered hometown brands, like Marshall Fields.

    Macy’s Chairman, President and CEO Terry Lundgren is based in NYC in a corporate office at the flaggingship store at 151 W. 34th Street, New York, NY 10001. Contact him.

    Call your State’s Attorney General’s office to investigate this issue and hopefully help address the damage to consumers.

    I am just beginning to look into this issue.

  80. mizgruntled says:

    Well, I never got an opt-out letter, and I was never a Macy’s customer to start out with–I had a Hecht’s card, loved the store, hate Macy’s. Then I bought my credit scores in January this year and discovered the “new” Citibank card I had never opened. Learned it was Macy’s doing. Well, it DOES affect your credit score–it lowers it because of “recently opened revolving credit.” So I cancelled the card, but it is going to take time to get the score up–while I have a v.good score, it was still dinged thanks to the B.S. low-integrity move of Macy’s and Citibank. Will they pay me the difference in the interest rate I’ll have to pay on a loan based on the lower score they caused? Ha. BOYCOTT Macy’s. Credit card companies are legalized loan sharks.

  81. mizgruntled says:

    An update on my previous post. I wrote to the local TV news consumer reporter. They called to set up an interview with me. Then they called to tell me they’d talked to head of Corp. Communications, who told them it was “impossible” for this to happen. Gee, either she is uninformed by her superiors on what’s going on, or she has decided to lie and try to make it look like I am making it up. Offered to have me call her and she’d put me in contact with their Credit Dept to see “what could have happened.”

    On second thought, knowing corporate flaks, she probably is technically correct that “Macys” would not do such a thing–of course she omits the fact that CitiGroup did it when Macys sold the inactive store cards to them. Oh the plausible deniability.

    Several other reports around the country have written about this: see
    [www.consumeraffairs.com]

    Macy’s Customers Get New Citicards–Like It Or Not
    Citibank flipped store cards into true credit cards
    by Martin H. Bosworth
    ConsumerAffairs.com

    October 9, 2007
    ———————-
    [blog.cleveland.com]
    Mystery credit card offer traces back to customer’s Macy’s account
    Posted by Teresa Dixon Murray December 03, 2007 04:30AM
    Categories: Breaking News

  82. citi_screwed_up says:

    Well, it has been a year and a half since Citi screwed up on this credit card flip. But their credit card section wasn’t the only division that had bad ideas. Their stock is now down 90% due to overall poor managment. Their credit card division is for sale. Citi-Girl probably lost her job. There is Karma.

  83. globetrekker says:

    I am currently in a dispute with Macy’s Visa. An unsolicited card was sent to me in Dec. without my knowledge or permission, and it was subsequently stolen. Over $4,000 in charges have been made against the card until I was finally notified. I am now fielding numerous collection calls each day, filling out affadavits, explaining my problem to numerous people, and writing letters of dispute. My credit score has already been affected since I’ve made no payments, and I am thoroughly disgusted with Macy’s policy of flipping inactive Macy’s department store accounts into Macy’s Visa accounts without the owne’rs permission