$700 In Citi Rewards Gift Cards Stranded In New Jersey

Yuriy traded in 70,000 Citi credit card reward points for $700 in gift cards. He intended to use the cards to buy a new laptop for his mother–how sweet! But something has gone horribly wrong, and the package of gift cards is stranded in Secaucus, N.J. It will take seven weeks for Citi to believe that the cards are really missing and issue replacements.

I recently cashed out 70,000 reward points from Citi’s Thankyou Network for $700 in gift cards to buy my mother a new laptop. All seemed well until UPS lost the package with the cards.

I called UPS and they apologized profusely but said that only Citi can initiate the trace and claim process. I then called Citi’s Thankyou Network and was told that I could not file a claim with them until 3 weeks had passed. To further complicate matters, they would email me the claim form, but I could not email a scanned copy back: it had to be either faxed or snail mailed. Why some companies insist that faxing is still an acceptable method of communication in 2011 is beyond my comprehension.

This leaves me having to wait up to 7 weeks for the gift cards: 3 weeks to file the claim + 1 week for them to handle it + 1 to 3 weeks for them to process a replacement. By that time, I will actually be living in a different state.I couldn’t wait to purchase the laptop, so that ship has sailed, but I do want the gift cards, or a refund of my points so I can get something else. Citi has definitely ruined the rewards experience for me.

Since the cards just went missing at the beginning of this month, Yuriy may already be trapped in the rewards replacement bureaucracy. Citibank’s executive customer service might still be interested in hearing about this, though.