CitiBusiness Strands Customer In The Middle Of The Pacific With No Credit Card

Skye is on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean without any way to pay for things, because Citibank canceled his card due to a security breach and didn’t bother to warn him first. What’s worse, they’re making him call repeatedly to try to fix it, which is costing him $3.50/minute because he’s in the middle of an ocean.

Here’s Skye’s story:

I have been using my CitiBusiness credit card for years now after having decided to exclusively use a single credit card to avoid the potential headaches that come with multiple revolving accounts. So, although I have nearly 20 credit card accounts open, I use only CitiBusiness and have done so for some time.

At the moment, I am abroad – on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in fact, and have been abroad for work for 7 out of the last 8 months. During this time I depend upon my credit card to pay bills at home, as well as hotel bookings and payment for shipboard services while at sea.

Last week, without bothering to notify me either via email or telephone, I discovered CitiBusiness cards had unilaterally closed my account. According to their online interface they had simultaneously opened ANOTHER account on my behalf but did not provide full details of the account.

Upon inquiring via their SECURE MESSAGING CENTER as to why my account had been closed, after three attempts, I received a rather generic response back stating that there had been a “security breach” and subsequently they had closed my account – again, without bothering to notify me.

After several back and forth exchanges via their message system, I was informed that if I wanted more information I would have to call them. From the middle of the Pacific Ocean of course. At about $3.50/minute to boot. So, because many of my bills and my current charges on the ship are tied to a now closed account, I sucked it up, picked up the phone and dialed.

Of course, the first couple layers of the telephone maze involved punching “0″ repeatedly until a human being arrived. Then of course, the number that the CitiBank SECURE MESSAGING SERVICE had conveniently provided for me to call in regards to the issue turned out to be the wrong branch of Citibank and they would have to transfer me.

“Okay,” I said, “Just please do it as quickly as you can…”

After which the line went dead and I had to start the process all over again.

On the second round, the customer care representative said that I would have to be transferred to Emergency Services. While being transferred, the line went dead.

On the third round, I asked to be connected immediately with Emergency Services after which the customer care representative came back on the line and said:

“They don’t take calls.”

I repeated the scenario to the CCR and asked to be referred to her supervisor. “Okay” she said, after which CitiBusiness Cards telephone system killed the call for the third time.

On the fourth round, I was finally transferred to a supervisor who, after hearing the details, said that they couldn’t share with me the new account information that they had opened in my name.

“What?” I said…”you mean to say you have opened an account on my behalf (not at my request), are authorizing me to use it, but won’t give me the account information so I CAN use it?”

“Um, well, we are sending the account information to your home address” she said.

“I am not home, haven’t been home for months and won’t be home for another month. I am on a ship in the middle of the Pacific, remember? Since you unilaterally closed out the ONE credit card I happen to have with me, that my BUSINESS is dependent upon, I need this resolved as soon as possible. Oh yeah, this is costing me $3.50/minute too…”

And then, for the first time, there was a glimmer of hope.

Over the phone I heard the following words:

“Okay, so I can’t send you your own new account information, but I may be able to re-open your original account temporarily. How long would you need it open for?”

“Four weeks, until I get home” I said, finally feeling like I was getting somewhere…

“Okay, well hold on just a second…”

Click, and the phone went dead, for the fourth time, at $3.50 a minute. After about an hour of this I estimate I had already spent about $190.00 simply trying to communicate the problem to a series of apparently inept customer care representatives.

Ironically, the only reason I started using my CitiBusiness Card exclusively several years ago was because it had been – up to this point – the most user-friendly of all my cards. Unfortunately, they have just proved to me that they are not capable of meeting my needs as a regular, committed customer. At this moment, I am still adrift with the company neither re-instating my old account, nor providing me with full information on the new account so I can actually use it. Which means I have no way of paying my current charges at sea, nor my
bills at home.

Thanks a bunch CitiBusiness Card.

Lately we’ve been getting lots of emails from consumers who are angry, confused, or left with payment problems because of canceled cards they weren’t immediately told about. Considering that security breaches are becoming as common as days of the week lately, we think credit card providers might want to try to improve their customer relationship management over this sort of thing.

(Photo: marcusrg)