July 23, 2002 7:38 AM   Subscribe

citigroup, the epitome of corporate evil, look like they were in bed with enron as well - nice bunch. time to cut up your citibank credit cards? username: metafilter46 password: metafilter
posted by specialk420 (34 comments total)
"Epitome of corporate evil?" Sheeze, specialk420, don't gild the lily, just tell us what you really think.

But then MeFi just wouldn't be MeFi without the "corporations are the devil" contingent. Just for a change of pace, though, I'd like to hear someone slam on an organization like Greenpeace or some other leftie darling. But that's not as fulfilling as ranting against Evil White Men, I guess.

That said, Citibank looks like it did indeed do some nefarious stuff here. Maybe not illegal, but certainly unethical. Still, they're probably no different than any other financial house in the late '90's in that respect.
posted by mrmanley at 8:05 AM on July 23, 2002

Thanks, specialk420...I'm cancelling my card today (primarily because of the second link), and I look forward to the conversation I'll be having with the 'service representative.'
posted by mapalm at 8:07 AM on July 23, 2002

"Still, they're probably no different than any other financial house in the late '90's in that respect."

Which might explain why these folks are getting a little more attention than Greenpeace right now.
posted by hackly_fracture at 8:10 AM on July 23, 2002


a corporation funding resource wasting iniatives? a corporation paying no heed to environmental concerns?


i'll never be the same.
posted by xmutex at 8:17 AM on July 23, 2002

Why the sarcasm and backlash against this post? I think that points to a bigger part of the problem, the fact that many of us are completely indifferent to some very dastardly things done by a corporation, legal or not. It's very fashionable today to by cynical of the cynics, I guess. I am curious why a (denied) allegation of damaging a yacht is even put in the same category.
posted by adampsyche at 8:25 AM on July 23, 2002


I simply used the link as an assonance to "slam" on Greenpeace in the same way a French boat (allegedly) "slammed" into the Greenpeace dinghy (which caused it, again allegedly, to "slam" into the yacht). It's funny. Laugh.
posted by mrmanley at 8:27 AM on July 23, 2002

citigroup also continues spamming the hell out of me (through various pet spamhausen), even after I cancelled my card the moment they first started spamming me. grrr, mainsleaze.
posted by dorian at 8:38 AM on July 23, 2002

*slams fist on desk, laughing*

ok, ok. i got it.

*slams forehead*
posted by adampsyche at 8:42 AM on July 23, 2002

Last Price: 27.98 at 11:31 EDT
Change: Down 4.06 (-12.67%)
Previous Close: 32.04 on 7/22
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:52 AM on July 23, 2002

But then MeFi just wouldn't be MeFi without the "corporations are the devil" contingent.

That's right, we all know Real Evil wears a turban and reads the Koran.
posted by jjg at 9:06 AM on July 23, 2002

There are two classes of people in this world: the rich and everyone else, [If you're rich you aren't reading this] and two sets of rules: rob a bank and you are going to jail. Own a bank, rob your customers and you are rich, as long as you remembered to make plenty of political 'donations'. But even Michael Milkan and Charles Keating went to jail for a little while. (Keating was released by the famous 9th Circuit Court) Ivan Boesky kept his money for snitching off Milkin, who was fined and sentenced to prison for ten years; in 1991 his sentence was reduced to two years plus three years probation. At his trial Federal judge Kimba Wood characterized the 1980s as the "Decade of Greed." In other words, don't expect any of these thieves to get punished.
posted by Mack Twain at 9:11 AM on July 23, 2002

Show me what "an organization like Greenpeace or some other leftie darling" has done that's in the same league, and I'll willingly join the backlash against them. Give me a better reason to ignore Citigroup and the rest of than "well they're no different than everybody else", and I'll consider it. Maybe we're not just "ranting against Evil White Men". Maybe we're trying to hold corporations accountable for their actions and misdeeds because they deserve to be held accountable.
posted by UnReality at 9:23 AM on July 23, 2002

Those with an "us vs. them" mentality will always go on the defensive against any perceived attack upon what they consider a part of their ideology, no matter the facts at hand. This is the mechanism which allows all sorts of crimes and nefarious activity to continue, because it is percieved that to acknowledge--much less to condemn and prosecute--it is to weaken one's own position against "them," which is the worst thing that can possibly happen.
posted by rushmc at 9:45 AM on July 23, 2002

Having just paid off my citibank card I've had since college (which I got a "free t-shirt" for signing up from a campus table long ago and put way too many snowboarding trips on it thinking I could pay them off post-college easily), I was growing tired of them calling me once every couple weeks to pitch me new products. I've been meaning to cancel the account for the past couple weeks. They've made thousands and thousands of dollars off me through the past 8 years of interest, so they felt the need to regularly call and annoy me (because I was a good customer in their eyes, but it's still annoying).

Today's story of their Enron dealings sealed the deal. I just got off the phone with Citibank and have cancelled my entire account, which was surprisingly easy to do compared with small things like canceling credit protection services (which required that I go through a hard sales pitch gauntlet and insist numerous times that yes, indeed I really wanted to cancel the pointless service).
posted by mathowie at 11:31 AM on July 23, 2002

Unless one will bank at the local 1-branch-only S&L, and pay through the nose in off-network ATM charges and in using a third-party internet bill paying service (rather than the free services the big boys give you), I don't think one is going to find a bank who's business practices abroad vary in any meaningful way from Citibank's.

Mathowie: the reason why it's so hard to cancel credit protection is that credit protection is sold to (a) kids who don't know better at the time (presumably you when you signed up for it) or (b) chumps who will never no better. Any product or service which sold on the basis of the buyer's ignorance or inexperience will have a through-and-through hard-sell mentality. Think about your last trip to Circuit City -- nobody gives a shit what kind of television or printer you buy or don't buy, but they'll stand their arguing with you for 10 minutes about not buying the extended warranty...
posted by MattD at 11:48 AM on July 23, 2002

Ummm...Perhaps I should hang my head in shame. Not only do I work at Citi, but at Citi Cards.

I wont dare say WHERE or in what capacity. Could you imagine the wrath of MeFis coming down on me? yikes!

Thanks for the second link up there though specialk420 (nice alias!). I actually had no idea.

(now thinking of looking for a new job...any web design work out there?)
posted by Dantien at 11:54 AM on July 23, 2002

Hey, isn't citibank the ones advertising their credit cards on TV with the line "Who's getting rich off your credit card?", implying that their competitors were feckless monkeys, and they were a cut above the rest. How deliciously ironic.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:00 PM on July 23, 2002

Dantien - are you posting to this thread from work?
posted by laz-e-boy at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2002

That's Capital One. Our competitor.
posted by Dantien at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2002

My bad :
I guess the ad is now especially relevant.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:26 PM on July 23, 2002

"Why, yes, Laz-e-boy, I a...."
*Sounds of Dantien being hauled off to HR*
posted by thekorruptor at 12:28 PM on July 23, 2002

I don't think one is going to find a bank who's business practices abroad vary in any meaningful way from Citibank's.

Try a good credit union. They're wonderful. Banks suck.
posted by nofundy at 12:43 PM on July 23, 2002

MattD: So what are you saying? That if unethical or criminal behavior is the norm, Citicorp should be excused from the consequences of its actions? That even if the game is rigged we should still be happy the big kids let us play?
posted by UnReality at 12:51 PM on July 23, 2002

Citigroup practices predatory lending in poor urban neighborhoods in NYC. Just to bring it back home a bit.
posted by aLienated at 12:58 PM on July 23, 2002

I agree, nofundy. I joined a credit union 11 years ago, and even though they're based on the other side of the country (It's Navy Federal Credit Union - I've been out of the NAV for 6 years but I still get to keep my membership), their services are impeccable, and I'll never go back to a bank.
posted by greasepig at 12:59 PM on July 23, 2002

well i'm glad i read this thread b/c i was looking for a good reason to ditch my citibank card after those punks charged me $30 (i got it back) in late payment fees without even sending a bill. it's amazing what a quick rant on the phone can do.

think globally, act locally. that seems like the best way to do your part to protect the rock we call home.

i can't see where anyone has a valid case when comparing citigroup and greenpeace in terms of global destruction and corruption. greepeace may not be perfect but those people put their lives at risk to protect things most of us take for granted while citigroup does its best to squeeze every dollar of profit out of the world regardless of the consequences.
posted by ggggarret at 2:19 PM on July 23, 2002

At the risk of saying something unpopular based on the tone of the conversation in here, I'll point out that Citibank is no different than any other bank - they're ruthlessly efficient generators of capital. They're also publicly held companies and many if not most of us are enouraging their behavior because we all expect maximum returns on our financial holdings (stocks, retirement accounts and so on). 'Ethically responsible' behavior simply doesn't enter into it. In my opinion the anger directed towards Citibank in here would be better directed towards the systems that encourage these patterns of behavior. Or vote with your dollars. The moment solar/wave/wind power becomes more economically viable than petrochemicals, the bank's money will be there.
posted by Tempus67 at 2:25 PM on July 23, 2002

"It's a fair cop, but society is to blame."
"Right, we'll be chargin' them, too." - Monty Python

Tempus67: just because the entire system is corrupt, that doesn't excuse corrupt actions. You're right, the system itself should be out primary focus, and that's where reform needs to start. But that doesn't make our anger toward Citicorp and the rest unjustified.
posted by UnReality at 3:17 PM on July 23, 2002

Isn't this the way economies collapse? People closing their bank accounts en masse, and banks closing?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:18 PM on July 23, 2002

If your credit union can offer me what Citibank can, I'd be quite impressed:

(1) free bill pay, with unlimited electronic payments and unlimited bank checks mailed by Citibank at Citibank's expense

(2) completely fee-free checking and savings

(3) ATMs every six blocks or so in Manhattan, only slightly less dense (it seems) in the boroughs and the 'burbs, and in many places in DC and California.
posted by MattD at 9:39 PM on July 23, 2002

There's nothing illegal about credit insurance, or extended warranties, by the way. They are just very, very overpriced compared to the "fair market" for insurance products.

By which I mean to say is that the rough "fair market" for claims ratios for insurance products is at 90% meaning that claims and claims expenses are about 90 cents for every dollar of premiums collected, or more -- administrative cost and profit margin come out the remaining few cents and returns on investments, since premiums are received before claims are paid.

Credit insurance has claims ratios that can be as low as 30 cents, and rarely exceed 60 cents. And credit insurance has regularly become both more expensive and less valuable: it used to MAKE your mimimum payment every month, now it just WAIVES the penalties and credit-report consequences of missing payments, but adds the full amount of the interest into the principal.

(Extended warranties have claims ratio that are also very low -- low enough so that the insurance companies who underwrite pay sales commissions on them so fat that Circuit City can make two or three times as much on the warranty you buy for that TV than they make on the TV itself, where's there's harsh competition.)
posted by MattD at 9:46 PM on July 23, 2002

Corporations are the devil AND Greenpeace sucks goats.

Look, I'm a centrist!

I spent some time working for a company to whom a certain predatory lending institution which competes with Citibank had outsourced their customer service. Here's what I learned:

1. Your credit card information is being handled by underpaid, overworked, resentful people who have plenty of access to pens and paper and can sit and make lists of credit card numbers and expiration dates all day long and then walk right out of the office with them. The fact that most of them DON'T do this is due more to the intrinsic decency of the workers rather than to any sort of security measures. The fact that the ones who DO do this mostly get caught immediately doesn't make it any less of a pain in the ass for you, the cardholder.

2. Yelling and screaming for a supervisor is a great way to get ignored. If Rep A won't remove the fee, thank her politely, hang up and call back. Chances are very good she was too lazy to note the account that you just requested fee removal, and Rep B might be in a better mood. There is nothing to stop the lowest-level phone rep from waiving every fee in sight, and no one is ever monitored on how many fees they have waived, so keep calling until you find the right rep.

3. The tactic above will backfire if your account gets filled with repeated notes marking your requests, so be careful how you proceed.

4. If a rep hangs up on you, you have zero recourse. None. Don't even bother wasting your breath and your time. They won't be able to find out which one it was, because he sure as hell didn't note the account, and though every account they touch is electronically fingerprinted, actually retrieving this info is a huge pain for everyone involved and you will get stonewalled. The only way to avoid this is to IMMEDIATELY ask for their operator ID, and that just pisses 'em off.

5. The tactic mentioned in #2 does not work for credit limit increases. Don't try it. It'll get your limit locked.

6. Do not call for emergency funds after you've had six beers and need a crack rock. This happens to every rep every Friday night, they hate it, and you're going to get mysteriously cut off when they "transfer" the call.

7. We know you just gave the VRU your account number. We know it's a pain to hafta repeat it. We don't like it either, but the system that runs the VRU doesn't talk to our system, and it isn't our fault, and we aren't asking you just to piss you off. So be nice and repeat it, please.

8. Sympathy for the cardholder decreases in direct proportion to amount of time spent in the call center. Call in the morning.

Caveat: I have no idea if other credit card companies function like this (although I imagine they do).

I know this was totally off-topic and long as hell but we were talking about credit cards, so.........
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:32 PM on July 23, 2002

If your credit union can offer me what Citibank can, I'd be quite impressed...

MattD: I hope you're not saying that, even if what Citicorp does is illegal sometimes, it's okay if it produces results.
posted by UnReality at 4:18 AM on July 24, 2002

I don't know about in the US, but there are some ethical banks.
posted by niceness at 4:55 AM on July 24, 2002

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