Follow-Up: Citibank Steps In, Forces Sears To Remove The $1070 Charge

Tom just sent us a follow-up to yesterday’s post, and it’s good news:

Score another one for The Consumerist!
 
This morning I contacted Sears’ Executive Customer Service Department. They attempted to contact the store manager on my behalf. I stress “attempted” because they were hung up on too.

Nothing is more satisfying than witnessing Executive Customer Service being treated as crappy (crappily?) as the rest of the world. From what I could gather, they were forced to submit a company e-mail to the manager…you know, the manager that doesn’t have voicemail.
 
Just a few minutes ago I was contacted by gentleman from CitiBank (which runs Sears Card). His name was Mark Ennis. He informed me that he called the store and was blown off just like everyone else. It wasn’t until he told them that he was with the Presidential Offices for CitiBank that people started jumping through hoops.
 
Mark saw the story on Consumerist (he mentioned it by name). Since he saw the article on your site, he didn’t know my last name or address. So he had the store pull every TV purchase on Black Friday that was made by anyone named Tom. (This is like “Law & Order” for retail.) From there he was able to find my contact info and, more importantly, figure out what happened.
 
Apparently after they refunded my first TV, they immediately re-rang it. The prevailing theory is that when I called the store to complain they looked up the transaction, saw the initial refund and stopped looking thereby missing the fact that it was re-rang moments later. Once they saw the refund, they assumed everything was ok and stopped looking.
 
Mark also noticed that in CitiBank’s notes it showed that they had asked me to prove that I didn’t receive the TV. He seemed genuinely shocked by that because, as those of us that are NOT Tier 1 support can tell you, it’s pretty much impossible to prove a negative.
 
I also informed him about the fact that their Dispute Department doesn’t have a hold queue. He seemed pretty embarrassed about that fact. So, either Mark was an awesome actor or he was actually “taking this matter seriously”.
 
The store has contacted me and it seems that they’re actually refunding me the money this time. They were asking me questions that they hadn’t before (like my address). So I think I’m finally getting this matter rectified.
 
Oh, and it sounds like Juan and Tanaka might have an awkward conversation with the Presidential Offices of CitiBank in their not to distant futures.
 
Thanks to Mark, Sears customer service and especially The Consumerist. You guys are better than the BBB when it comes to getting stuff like this fixed.
 
Oh, and thanks to the Sears in Chesterfield. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you treated the big wigs at Sears and CitiBank in the same shitty manner that you’ve been treating me for the last 4 1/2 months. I was afraid that these people would think I was crackpot. But thanks to your consistent substandard job performance you quickly established my legitimacy.
 
Thanks again,
Tom

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Comments

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  1. mmstk101 says:

    I never thought I’d say this but . . . well-done CitiBank! Glad to hear there was a happy ending to this one.

  2. IphtashuFitz says:

    That last paragraph is great! It absolutely amazes me that any retail store would act in that manner. I’ll bet that the store will be under new management in the not to distant future.

  3. bsalamon says:

    wow. wow. wow.

  4. I like that line “you guys are better than the BBB when it comes to getting stuff like this fixed”

    and its true too!

  5. kalell says:

    This whole thing is sad from the beginning. Did the OP ever try to walk in the store and just ask for help? I mean it is great that it was resolved, but almost every large company has the robotic phone problems and lack of people, but the people in the building are much nicer and as and earlier post said it is much harder to ignore you.

  6. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Rock on, Tom! Glad it all worked out for you — you handled yourself admirably throughout the entire fiasco.

  7. sniff this makes me so happy.

  8. zorville says:

    In the words of a famous falsely accused military leader from 80’s TV, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

  9. TheDude06 says:

    you should have called this post “how to actually take things seriously”

  10. Megladon says:

    Wow, something good from citibank. I’ll still never use them again, but its nice to see not everyone there is going to hell

  11. KyleOrton says:

    @zorville: Maybe for next April 1st, Consumerist could rename itself “The Jazz”

  12. b612markt says:

    OH SNAP!

  13. Buran says:

    Wow, that’s a new low. Refund, so you can claim you did, then ring up a new charge and refuse to refund that one!

  14. zorville says:

    @KyleOrton: ROFL

  15. Nighthawke says:

    Did you hear that? That’s someones’ nuts getting crunched by Home Office.

  16. lostalaska says:

    @IphtashuFitz: you kidding? The way Sears is going they’re all going to be looking for work sooner or later. The way customer service is with them it’s like they’re all just hanging on and waiting for the pink slips to show up one day.

  17. 11hawkinst says:

    Always nice to see a happy ending!

    (well, I guess that’s not until you get the money back)

  18. sharki3232 says:

    Wow! They treat everyone like crap at Sears even people from the Presidents office! The level of sheer audacity displayed by the people at that store is almost mind boggling. Why would anyone still shop at Sears?

  19. Buran says:

    @graffiksguru: … except when you write in with a very valid complaint when you’re being criminally scammed, and the post never shows up. The BBB will always transmit your complaint, even if it’ll eventually say “the business did its best to resolve your complaint” when the business did nothing but try over and over to justify fraud.

  20. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    Great story. Executives frequently do not know the experience of their average customers.

    I’m a little confused, though, in the transition from Tom’s call to the executive customer service and then hearing from the Citibank guy.

  21. Daniel says:

    “…The Consumerist. You guys are better than the BBB when it comes to getting stuff like this fixed.”

    ^^^ Not a good thing, at least with regards to the BBB.

    Awesome story, however.

  22. mgomega says:

    Mr. Ennis, if you’re reading this: you’re one of the good guys. Thanks!

  23. homerjay says:

    Wow, you know you really f’d up when Citibank won’t even vouch for tour shitty behavior.

  24. rox1129 says:

    This is great! I love happy endings!

    And kudos to Mr. Ennis. It’s nice when customers are treated with the respect they deserve.

  25. ChuckECheese says:

    @Seth_Went_to_the_Bank: Citibank is the company that issues Sears cards, so they needed to do the chargeback.

  26. scoobydoo says:

    This article proves 3 things:

    1) Citibank does have some competent people working for them.

    2) Sears does not have a single competent person working for them.

    3) The Consumerist is becoming more powerful than you could possibly imagine :)

  27. HalOfBorg says:

    Seems to be pretty even:

    4 1/2 months for Sears to NOT fix it,

    2 DAYS for Consumerist to ‘Git R Done!”

  28. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    @ChuckECheese: Thanks, I got that, but if you read his story it looks like the Citibank found him independently. I was just wondering what happened with Sears executive customer service…

    …but it doesn’t really matter.

  29. Sherryness says:

    This is possibly the most awesome story ever on Consumerist!

  30. SkyeBlue says:

    I would try and find out who is Marks’ supervisor and defintely send a letter to her/him telling them how appreciative you are for how he handled things.

  31. JohnMc says:

    I think this particular manager is going to go from EECB to OCB [Other Careers Beckon]. With the downturn in the economy retail is hurting. When it comes review time I bet his job is toast.

  32. STrRedWolf says:

    Citibank must have it and Sears on an active Google Alert.

  33. katylostherart says:

    i like that last part :)

  34. azntg says:

    @IphtashuFitz: Yeah. Nice swipe in the last paragraph on the letter, no? I like that LOL.

    Glad things ultimately worked out for you!

  35. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    The last part is awesome.

    And cheers to Mr. Ennis!

  36. BuriedCaesar says:

    [Darth Vader voice]

    IMPRESSIVE

    [/darth vader voice]

  37. This is great!

    But… why did Citibank have the Sears store pull the purchase records? Wouldn’t Tom’s purchase be in their records as well?

  38. Alger says:

    @graffiksguru:
    I suspect that my pet hamster might be better at getting things resolved than the BBB.

  39. blitzcat says:

    Are we sure he didn’t get scammed by someone on the phone pretending to be from Citibank so he could get his personal details?

  40. coan_net says:

    It is cases like this that proves my theory that 90% of problems with many of the regular stories we read (against Best Buy, Blockbuster, etc…) almost always have to do with a few bad apples that makes the whole chain look bad.

  41. robinandmarty says:

    Well, I am glad Tom was able to get a resolution to his problem, even though it took over 4 months to do so. My husband and I KNOW what a handle Sears can be. We ordered appliances for our new kitchen in September 2007. We ordered them from Sears, because they were labled “available next day delivery”. Two days after ordering, I had never gotten a shipping verification, so I called Sears Customer Service. I was rudely informed that it was not available for my area, and it was currently on backorder. An expected delivery date was given and was basically told “deal with it” and was hung up on.
    The shipping day came, the shipping company called to set up delivery for the next day. At 6:30 that morning, we get a call saying they were not going to deliver because the items were still on backorder. This happend SIX different times, from September until March….SIX MONTHS to get delivery of items that are STILL being listed as “next day delivery available”.
    Why didn’t we just cancel our order? WE DID, On several different occasions! They just kept calling, setting up delivery times.
    I would say, we spent AT LEAST 80 hours on the phone with these idiots trying to figure out this situation. One person would tell us one thing, then the second person would tell us something totally different. Not one single person EVER told us the truth.
    They would ALWAYS schedule the delivery date for Thursdays, which is the ONLY day of the week that we don’t have an adult home. So, we would have to make special arrangements for someone to come that day and wait for the delivery. After the first 5 times finding someone to come, only to have the appliances backordered, when the 6th phone call came to set up delivery, we didn’t even answer the phone, or call them back to schedule another moot appointment. We didn’t have anyone there at the house either. Of course, they came that day, but decided to show up 3 hours earlier that the delivery time left on our voice mail. We rushed to get someone there, only for them to decide not to come back (which is what Sears Home Delivery TOLD us would have to happen because their driver would not be released until he had delivered the entire truck). We finally ended up getting the appliances 2 days later, and 6 MONTHS from the original order date.
    I will NEVER, EVER, EVER shop at Sears again!!! I don’t even shop at K-Mart beause of their Sears affiliation.

  42. dweebster says:

    @robinandmarty: Sears pulled this SIX TIMES on you and you still allowed them to deliver it? That’s insane of you. After pulling that scam on me once I’d be over at the nearest Sears canceling the order in person with the store manager or accepting a minimum 20%+ discount for even bothering to consider waiting for the truck again. It’s putting up with insanely bad customer service like this that keeps bad companies like “Best” Buy and others in business. You can’t be a crack whore without crack, and you can’t be an evil corporation without sucking up money from somewhere. “Bad company – no moola!” is what the manager needs to hear. Loudly, in earshot of all the appliance customers on a busy weekend, so that others are forewarned of their incompetence. Extra points if you smack his nose with a newspaper.

  43. bben46 says:

    Once upon a time Sears was famous for its good customer service. An old joke was they will stand behind everything they sell except their manure spreader. I remember taking in a 10 year old Sears Craftsman screwdriver that had broken and having it immediately replaced by the salesman on the floor with no questions asked.Now, Sears like every other American company is run by money grubbing MBAs who’s only concern is their bonus this quarter.How can the board justify giving a bonus to a CEO who is killing their future?

  44. LINIS says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: I would assume that CitiBank does not have access to information saying what item was purchased, just account names and purchase amounts. So Mark asked Sears to pull their records so he could match “Tom” with the amount and “TV”, instead of searching all Citibank records for “Tom” and some charge that probably wasn’t exactly $1070.

  45. Juggernaut says:

    Mark Ennis “we speak your name”

  46. wallapuctus says:

    Glad to hear it was finally resolved!

    It took me almost 6 months and 2 BBB complaints to get a refund from Sears on a broken dishwasher so I feel your pain.

  47. tomok97 says:

    I’m the OP. I just thought I’d answer a few questions.

    @blitzcat: Mark never asked for any personal information. So if he is a scammer then that would mean Sears gave him my personal info. And, I highly doubt he is since he called my home first and it came up as CitiGroup on the caller ID. I know, I know, that stuff can be spoofed. But if did get any info, he didn’t get it from me.

    @Seth_Went_to_the_Bank: The reason you were confused by the transition from Sears Executive Customer service to CitiBank was because there wasn’t one. They were two seperate incidents. I contacted Sears EC and they began an investigation. Later in the afteroon (while that was being conducted), CitiBank called me. Sorry if that was little confuseing. But I wrote the follow-up letter in a fit of euphoria. ;)

  48. econobiker says:

    @robinandmarty: At some point somebody has to record and/or blog a deal like this to show what kind of idiotic situation this company causes.

    That said, I too loved that the sear executive and citibank folks were treated like crap just like the customer in this story…

  49. Power to the people and some such.

    If Consumerist wields all this unholy power now, does this mean that droves of people will show up and sign up with Citibank because of this single positive post?

  50. vildechaia says:

    Sears is a joke. I have not set foot in any Sears store since March 1964. Why, you ask? Because, at that time, they refused to change the account into my name alone after my divorce. I told them that if they didn’t want my money, I didn’t want to do business with them. I did not have that problem at any of the other places we had accounts. Sears is still dumb.

  51. Bobg says:

    I was in construction management for many years. I tool that I’ve used in the past when someone holds your money and refuses to part with it is to sue for loss of use of funds. Say I owe you $10,000, I agree that I owe you but refuse to pay you. You might have to borrow money, lose opportunities, fall behind on your own bills, suffer credit problems, etc. You must document your loses but the courts can, and often do, award you substantially more that what was owed. This tactic might be used if the amount being withheld from you is a couple of thousand or more.

  52. pattymc says:

    Paradigm shifts galore.

    1) The increasing importance and management of rep on the internets

    2) The shift away from depending on the woefully inadequate BBB to resolve consumer problems to sites like The Consumerist

    3) The fact that these shifts are occurring so very, very rapidly

    This is a terrific site. I recommend a daily read to everyone I know.

  53. bloodhound96 says:

    congrats to Tom, and good job by citibank.

  54. elf6c says:

    Best thread ever. Great job Consumerist!

  55. rbdfoxes says:

    @kalell: oh right, let’s bend over backwards for the stores since we can’t actually expect “customer service” to actually work and/or take calls in any helpful manner. Silly OP.

  56. socritic says:

    and this is why i won’t set foot at a Sears store… and i’m such a spender.

  57. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Maybe consumerist should refer to it self as:

    “The Consumerist: The BETTER better business bureau.”

    Also, fuck you sears. Fuck you.

  58. kickarse says:

    @m4ximusprim3:

    “Where what people say actually means something”

  59. LUV2CattleCall says:

    You deserve

    29.9% Interest on your money + $150 late f ee for the first month, at which point the interest rate rises to 40% due to a default on the “borrower’s (Sears)” part. Add to that a $150 late fee for each subsequent month, and a $40 overdraft-type fee for each late fee – compounding intrest on all the fees of course.

    Oh, and don’t forget to add a 10% just because fee accompanied by a pictogram trace of your middle finger.

  60. jennilee13 says:

    I am compelled to add to this story in case anyone gets the wrong impression that the Citibank side of the equation is any better than Sears. I am in the middle of trying to resolve a creedit dispute which Sears has admitted was a result of an order entry error but they claimed that since Citibank has the account, I had to deal directly with them. So I contacted Citibank…….

    The Citibank dispute representative, Ross (they refuse to give full names) was rude, condescending, insulting, illogical and essentially called me a liar on the phone. He refused to help at all and said the entire situation was my fault. I have since worked with another Citibank representative that was actually helpful and provided clear guidance as to what I need to do to get things resolved.

    In my experience, it has been hit or miss with getting good customer service from either company. Luckily, my boyfriend is a lawyer and having him conference in on the calls to customer service was the key to getting an adequate response from anyone. Without him, I would be SOL.