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Dumb-ass, stupid management as an art form: Citibank finally figures out how to call my cell when I’m six hours ahead of them. Some guy says, “Alan, I’m here to help you.” I said,
“Then you can call me Dr. Weiss, and you can tell me what you can do to resolve this nonsense of not honoring my card overseas on first use and having fraud call me.”

He took ALL of my information, checked security codes, and told me he had someone who could help me. I was placed on hold twice, for two minutes each, and then a very uncaring, sarcastic Roxanne got on the line. Here is the exchange:

Roxanne: I can help you understand what happened.

Alan: I know what happened. A foreign transaction triggered you to deny my card and place a call from fraud protection.

R: That’s correct, what else do you want to know?

A: What will you do about it? Amex doesn’t do this.

R: I’ve fixed it.

A: How?

R: I’ve made your card active again.

A: But what happens when I travel outside the US again?

R: I can’t promise a thing, probably same sequence.

A: That’s not acceeptable.

R: OK.

A: OK?

R: Your card is now active. Nothing else to do.

A: There is. I can cut it into small pieces and send it to your CEO and end our relationship which goes back over a decade.

R: OK.

A: OK?

R: OK.

Customer retention, never mind satisfaction, is absent from Citibank. The first guy told me that whenever I leave the country, or even travel out of my state, I should call them and alert them. I said I’m a customer, why should I have to do that?

You guessed it: So we don’t decline your card. At least he wasn’t rude like the first three women, merely totally unempowered and unhelpful.

Well, they can’t decline my card if I’m no longer a customer. Hence, Citibank and its management make it into the Dumb-Ass Stupid Management Hall of Fame.

Don’t use them, you have options with companies which actually think you’ve valuable as a customer. I wouldn’t touch their stock, either.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 6

  • October 9, 2012

    DASM is happening all over the darn place Alan. Your example is unfortunately one of many.

    I had a frustrating experience with Bed Bath and Beyond, who appear to be asleep on one of their own store displays, this past Sunday and made mention of this in my Fast Company blog, Twitter and LinkedIn. No reply.

    Companies are training their employees to give customers stock answers, instead of hiring smart people and empowering them to make decisions that will please the customer. Your Citibank example confirms my theory on this.

    Long live American Express.

    Roberta Matuson

  • Alan Weiss

    October 10, 2012

    The employees and their attitudes reflect management and their attitudes. Customer be damned, we’re not taking any chances and we’re going to maximize our margins. Citibank actually treats their best customers—international travelers—the shabbiest. Mental midgets in the executive suite.

  • October 16, 2012

    Well, you certainly have clout (or is that Klout?)! Citigroup’s CEO has left the building, so has his trusted second, and it seems there are more to come.


  • Alan Weiss

    October 16, 2012

    He’s probably taking off before some trouble surfaces.

  • Smile

    October 25, 2012

    I use to work at Citibank. DASM Hall of Fame suits them well. Citibank is a slave driver too. Getting an answer from the customer service department was always hard even if your were an employee of Citibank. They were useless. I wouldn’t recommend doing business with them or working there.

  • Alan Weiss

    November 4, 2012

    I’ve found that rude behavior and uncaring service ALWAYS reflect management’s behaviors. People conform to what they see, not what they read or hear. Citibank actually sent me a letter from some junior vice president telling me they’d hold my account open if I’d change my mind. There was no offer of any kind of benefit or regret, and no phone call. I left a message telling her that they can effectively delete me forever, I’m not returning. Their customer retention operation is about as effective as the New Orleans Saints’ defense: it doesn’t show up.

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