Citibank Gives You 6 Minute Window To Write To Them

Citibank’s online form for communicating with their customer service department times out after 6 minutes, a customer discovered—after that, it looks like it successfully sends your message, but actually just discards it.

Christian found this out after several messages went unanswered:

“Finally, I sent them a short email saying essentially, ‘What the hell is going on?’ In the response, I got this message:

I have reviewed our past messages and have been unable to locate any regarding a transaction xxxx. It may be that the page timed out when you were creating the message and so it was not sent.

Please note that when sending an online message, you will have six minutes in which to compose and send it. If you exceed the six minute time frame, the page will time out and the message will not be sent.

Citibank Online Customer Service

Christian points out that this isn’t just a function of the general security settings Citibank uses: “My login to doesn’t even timeout in that amount of time.”

If you’re trying to contact Citibank through their website, you may want to collect all relevant data and compose your message in another app before bothering with their short-attention-span form.

(Thanks to Christian!)
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. LadyCarolineLamb says:

    Yesterday I had to place a Kohl’s order via phone, because their website was so messed up like this. As soon as I would add an item to the cart it would say I “timed out” even though I signed in 30 seconds prior. Same deal over & over.

  2. kimsama says:

    Yeah — this is a widespread “tech issue” (read: not a “tech issue”) that lots of online merchants have. Trying to submit an “F— you” letter to Blockbuster? Sorry, “server error”! Want to let CVS know how you feel? “Connection timed out”!

    At least in this case, you can compose in a word processor and then paste into the field. 6 minutes is pathetic, but that’s better than 90% of the online comment submission pages that don’t do anything after any amount of time.

    I’d recommend writing then pasting anyway, as you’ll be taken more seriously if your letter is grammatically correct and doesn’t contain any spelling errors.

  3. comopuedeser says:

    Their credit card application form times out very fast too. I tried to apply and it kept timing out. I’m starting to wonder if they want new business or not. I’m all for security but getting a new credit card should not be a quick decision but rather something you give people some time to think through and make sure.

  4. ninevolt says:

    I’ve had many issues with Citibank– but overall, compared to the other card companies I’ve dealt with, they’re fabulous.

    ( Being held by security staff for using my own credit card, just because Capital One says it’s stolen…. nevermind that I’d had the thing for less than 36 hours, and hadn’t used it yet— that’s my favorite story EVER. )

  5. chili_dog says:

    Just why would these businesses want to hear from you?

    There are so many people today that replacing you as a customer is easy and quite honestly, better because they don;t have to make up for a bad experiance.

  6. SacraBos says:

    At one time, the US went from a Manufacturing Economy, to a Service Economy. This was due to more goods been imported, and providing good service was the key to getting and retaining customers.

    Now that Customer Service is being “imported”, we appear to be moving to another kind of economy. The Sheeple Economy, where we are supposed to be good little consumers and take what we’re given.

    Customers that want good service are considered “non-profits” or too bothersome to deal with. After all, sheeple that pay their bills with little complaint about the bad service are more profitable. Keep the rules too confusing for even the savy consumer to understand, and make sure everything is their fault. If the customer is somehow wronged, fear not, since Manditory Binding Arbitration will insure that we can keep screwing the customer.

    After all, we think the customer needs us more than we need them. And as long as they want all our pretty toys, newest gadgets, and neat trinkets more than putting up with our moronic “corporate policy” and bad service, we can line our pockets. Poor customer service is now a way to boost margins, since truly good customer service costs too much.

  7. taka2k7 says:

    Not surprised.

    Unless I know the website doesn’t time out, I usually compose stuff like this in notepad or something similar. That way you can also save the text file as your record. You won’t have a record of a online comment form otherwise.

  8. Buran says:

    How the hell does a form “time out” while sitting on the screen!? The only way a script can “time out” is if it doesn’t finish processing before the server times out the request — AFTER YOU PRESS SUBMIT.

    These assholes probably deliberately coded the script to throw away customer email so they have an excuse to not give you any service.

  9. Rukasu says:

    This is why I always type out my complaints out in TextEditor before copying and pasting them into a form.

  10. Crumbles says:

    Type it out in notepad, copy, paste, done. Quit bitching now, thanks.

  11. vastrightwing says:

    They shouldn’t bother making it time out. Instead, they should make the submit button pretend to submit the form and then do nothing. On the other had, perhaps this is Citi Banks’ attempt at humor.

    (Of course, to get a script to “timeout” required actual intent and had to be Q/Aed. This was on purpose folks!)

  12. Buran says:

    @Crumbles: Uh, we’ll bitch when bitching is justified, thank you. This is a CONSUMERIST site, not BigBusinessIst.

  13. lpranal says:

    wayyy off topic… but since when do you need to include photo credits on royalty free images?

  14. zibby says:

    Citibank sez:


  15. jtheletter says:

    @Buran: I’m not sure exactly what software they’re using for this form but things can time out without being a client-side script. A lot can be done server-side and in this case it’s probably time stamping the form page request and then checking that timeout value when the form is submitted. As someone familiar with ASP, ColdFusion, and some PHP I can tell you there are many MANY ways to implement a client timeout that you might not know about. It’s a design error that the server doesn’t indicate a timeout to the user and either give them the option to resubmit or start over. At the very least any page which times out should give the user some indication of the time limit.

  16. silvanx says:

    Perhaps they don’t want people composing detailed messages, perhaps they just don’t understand why a 6 minute time limit would be a problem. But looking at their reply, they don’t really care either way (how about “sorry if our website lost your comment”) and make it the customer’s problem instead.

  17. NoWin says:


    …plus if the form is on an “https” link, a time-out error can easily be generated when an encryption key cookie expires.

  18. scoosdad says:

    Sounds like my webmail with Charter cable. There’s a note on the compose page that says, “this page times out after 50 minutes”, but I’ve never been able to stay there more than 6 or 8 minutes without having to save my message somewhere else first before losing it forever.

  19. coren says:

    @Crumbles: Why should anyone have to type up their concern/question/complaint/whatever in anything but the form?

  20. thesabre says:

    You should ALWAYS compose messages to customer service in Notepad or a word processor. Why wouldn’t you want a record of your own messages to them? If you’re going to complain to someone, you should be able to refer to your message in the future if something arises. Otherwise, they can just say “you never said that” and you really have no way to prove it.

    Write it in Notepad, save it, go to their webpage and copy/paste it.

  21. wunderwood says:

    That isn’t just annoying, it is a violation of US law.

    Report them to the Department of Justice ADA enforcement folks. That is an illegal accessibility limitation. People with limited dexterity or assistive interfaces for text entry might never be able to submit something successfully.

    Web page timeouts are explicitly addressed in the Section 508 web guidelines. Those are separate from ADA, but it is a well-known accessibility practice and Citibank should be following it.

  22. essjay says:

    I had the same problem in the UK with barclaycard. As someone who works with Web Usability every day, it’s highly dubious that their application forms don’t time out and are generally well designed. Yet any form you use to contact them is really badly designed, almost as if it’s intentional. I wrote about my experience here []

  23. rlee says:

    @LADYCAROLINELAMB: I had the same problem with Kohl’s a few months ago. I eventually resolved it, and I wish I could tell you how. Make sure javascript and cookies are allowed, clear cookies, restart browser, would be my best recollection.