How Citibank has Lost my Loyalty

I have been a loyal Citigold customer for 20 years. But last Friday they really put a chink in my loyalty. Citigold is the “premium banking” part of Citi, a step above the masses. It has been very convenient for all these years. Here’s how they violated my affection.

First, they called me at home to market something. I guess there should be nothing wrong with that, but then again, I expect better than retail treatment as a Citigold member. Perhaps they were calling about a fraud issue, or an observation about how I could manage my account better. But they weren’t.

Second, the first thing the customer service person said was that I was a “valued Citigold customer”. So without asking how I was, or what my needs were, she launched into a product sale. Wait a minute, how about my needs? Perhaps if you listened to me you might actually strengthen our relationship.

Third, she said that because of my sterling record after all these 20 years, they wanted to offer me a personal line of credit for when I have those “emergencies”. And I was so important, they would throw in $100 for me to get started. Not bad… finally they started to recognize my long-term value. Maybe they were listening.

Finally, I just couldn’t bear the tension… I was so hoping for some indication about the interest they would charge. After all, I have been a loyal customer for a very long period of time, and interest rates are at an all time low… I was thinking somewhere around 4% to 6%. But my new friend indicated that this product had a variable rate between 12% and 18%, depending. (What does “depending” mean?) I couldn’t believe the product offer. After all that, they were offering me usury rates comparable to a credit card.  That’s it… they were probably actually selling me another credit card masked as a “personal line of credit”. And I would have the ability to pay them 18% on the money I borrowed! Give me a break.

This was the height of an insult. Here’s why….

I don’t deny any bank, even Citibank, for coming up with new products and services to offer their customers. In fact, the banks have to hold on to their franchises. But to trade off my loyalty for an 18% offer is basically to throw my years of loyalty in my face.

Of course we all know the difficulty banks face today. But I had been willing to stick with them if they stuck with me. After all, brands are relationships built over time. But in one phone call, they violated everything. So I have moved from being a customer they could count on to one who is now looking for a better relationship.

And to those of you who think it doesn’t exist, just look at First Republic Bank, or several other smaller, emerging brands.

Bummer. And just when I could have used a friend.