Shares of banking stocks are dragging down the markets as investors become increasingly convinced that the banks will be nationalized, says Reuters. Investors are shunning the companies, worried that shareholders will be wiped out in a government takeover, and are fleeing to U.S. Government bonds and gold, which rose to above $1,000 an ounce.
We’ve seen food items, airline mile programs, and credit card limits all shrink as the economy worsens. Now it’s time for other rewards programs to become just a little less rewarding—and somewhat sneakily, too, in these two stories recently sent in by readers.
Reader Eric was looking at his credit card account activity when he noticed something odd. No, it wasn’t an unauthorized charge. It was advertising.
Should bailout out banks be buying naming rights? Dennis Kucinich doesn’t think so, and last week he urged the Treasury department to cancel one such deal between Citibank and the New York Mets. Now Bloomberg says that seven more bailed out banks are spending money on stadium rights.
The New York Mets are getting a new stadium. It’ll be called Citi Field and that honor cost Citibank (and by extension, one could argue, taxpayers) $400 million.
Martin discovered he was able to get Citibank to extend his grace period from 20 to 25 days. It seems all you have to do is ask! Here’s how he found out.
With $45 billion in taxpayer funds burning a hole in its pocket, Citigroup is purchasing a $50 million Dassault Falcon 7X, according to the New York Post. Apparently none of the existing jets that ferried execs to Washington to ask for bailout funds was ironic enough.
Banks usually avoid having to deal with the consequences of advance fee fraud, since they make the depositor responsible for coming up with the missing money when a check turns out to be fake. But a lawyer who just got scammed is taking Citibank to court, because he says their “unconditional” guarantee that the check was legit led directly to his loss of $182,500.
Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup, announced today that the company would be split after reporting a net loss for 2008 of $18.72 billion. He also promised to put the money from the $700 bailout to work by extending credit to consumers and businesses… responsibly.
We know the credit markets remain seized: late on Black Friday when no one was listening, the Federal Reserve issued a statement that its emergency lending to banks had increased over the prior week. Thus, massive amounts of money continue to flow to large financial institutions in an effort to stimulate economic activity, but by all appearances the money is not flowing into the broader economy. Quite the contrary; as the Fed lowers rates and adds record amounts of loaned cash to bank balance sheets, big banks are actually increasing consumers’ cost of borrowing and reducing their lines of credit. Witness Citibank’s recent adverse actions against cardholders.
Only two short years ago, Citibank was worth $244 billion. Now, after its stock lost half of its value in just the past week, the bank is estimated to be worth $20.5 billion. What happened? The New York Times attempted to answer that question Saturday, and it pointed the finger at the usual suspects — conflicts of interest between those who were supposed to manage risk — and those who stood to benefit from making risky bets.
If you have a Citigroup-issued credit card and you haven’t had a rate increase over the last two years, expect to be notified of a 2-3% rate increase on your November statement. Congratulations! You’re going to help Citigroup offset its losses in the global credit card division, whether you were directly part of those losses or not. As the New York Times points out, by doing this Citigroup is breaking the promise they made to Congress in 2007 that they would not arbitrarily raise rates on accounts—which may be why they’re offering a fairly lenient opt-out policy.
Nicole was hit with a surprise 6 point interest rate increase on her Citicard, so she fought back. Her story is a good reminder that you should look at all of your options and be prepared to argue on your behalf, even if you’re not in a position where you can just pay off the entire balance and walk away.
Inside, email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses for over 100 different companies to inject your customer service complaints into their corporate executive offices, and get it well on the way to success.
Readers M & C are honest people, so when Citibank started randomly depositing money that clearly wasn’t theirs into their account, they called to tell them about it. And Citibank took the money back. And deposited it again. And then sent them a check. M & C say that they’ve begged, they’ve pleaded Citibank to stop sending them random checks — but nothing has worked.
Having trouble getting people at Citibank to help you out? If you’ve tried regular customer service and supervisor multiple times and failed, try these numbers:
Wells Fargo is the winner in the battle for Wachovia, says the New York Times. Apparently, Citibank became nervous about splitting the bank when they saw the size of the “bad assets” it would have to take on, and quietly walked away. The bank will continue to seek $60 billion in damages, however.