Citibank's Website Glitch Tricks Man Into Overpaying $755, But They Won't Issue Refund

Citibank’s website isn’t reliable, at least according to them. Matt assumed that a website from a bank could be trustworthy, and that if there was no scheduled payment showing up, then he must have forgotten to arrange it. He scheduled a second payment, but then both payments went through one day apart. Now Citibank refuses to give him a refund: he should have called or emailed before rescheduling, they’ve told him, and not trusted what the website was telling him.

Matt writes:

I have had the most unbelievable experience with Citi Card this week. In a nutshell, an error on their website led me to schedule two full payments and they won’t give me the money back. Hopefully this story will prevent some of your readers from experiencing a similar problem.

On July 12, I received my Citi Card statement via email. The bill was $755.34 and was due on August 4. I went to the Citi website and scheduled a full payment to post on August 1. A couple weeks went by, and on August 1, I was getting ready to leave on a business trip, so I decided to check and make sure that the payment was indeed scheduled. I went to my Scheduled Payments page on Citi’s website and it told me I had no scheduled payments. I then went to the page with my account status, and it still said I owed $755.34 by August 4. I assumed I either didn’t schedule the payment, or I did and something went wrong. Either way, the website told me I had a bill due in three days and no payments scheduled, so I scheduled another payment of $755.34 for August 4.

As you can probably guess by now, on August 4, Citi made a deduction of $755.34 and then on August 5 made another deduction in the same amount. This brought my checking account within $52 of overdrafting, and my family and I were about to take a vacation to a small town where not every store takes credit cards. I called Citi and explained the situation, and they offered to return the money in 7 to 14 days, which was unacceptable. This was Wednesday. My wife and I would be paid on Friday, but we were going to be in a car without access to cash all day Thursday, so we needed the money immediately. They also blamed me completely for the debacle. When I repeatedly explained that I checked the scheduled payments page and was told nothing was scheduled, all they would tell me was that I should have called or emailed. But, why would I call or email, when I assume I can trust their website? Should I call or email every time I schedule a payment to confirm they received it? They then told me to call my bank and claim it as an unauthorized charge. I did so and was told an investigation would take place and I would have the money back in 7 to 10 days. Again, completely unhelpful. I said no thanks.

I called Citi back, argued with a supervisor for half an hour, and got absolutely nowhere. Just the same unbudging runaround. Completely infuriated, I told her to go ahead and put in the refund request, even though it didn’t really do me any good.

So now, I get my mail today and find a letter from Citi, again blaming me entirely and telling me that no refund will be issued after all. So, Citi Card has a shitty website and gets to take out a $755 interest-free loan from me without my permission, and the whole stupid thing is my fault. I’ve dealt with a lot of bad customer service, but never any as sloppy and stubbornly unhelpful as this. I will be closing my Citi Card and would urge all of your readers to do the same.

Matt, we think you should escalate this higher up the Citibank food chain. It’s unreasonable that a bank would hold their customer responsible for an error on their part, and it’s absurd to think that it takes a bank up to two weeks to electronically re-deposit funds that they removed within a fraction of a second. Check out our Consumer’s Guide to Fighting Back for suggestions on how to appeal to (hopefully) more reasonable minds at the executive level, including how to launch an Executive Email Carpet Bomb.