Wow. After several years of being a happy Citibank credit card customer, they’ve really managed to piss me off. Here’s the deal…
On New Year’s Eve, I went to the Red Cross website to make a donation. I entered all the necessary information, including our contact info, the amount that we wished to donate, and our credit card details. I then hit submit. Everything seemed to go fine, and they promised to send an e-mail confirmation. The next day (Jan. 1, 2007) I happened to log into our credit card account, where I was greeted with the following message from Citi:
A review of this account has shown recent high-risk activity. Please contact our Customer Service Unit at 1-800-950-5114.
I called the number and learned that they had deemed our (attempted) donation suspicious, and they had thus refused the transaction. Huh? A charitable donation made on last day of the year is suspicious? I would venture to guess that a tremendous number of people in this country procrastinate and make charitable contributions on the last day of the year.
The real problem here (aside from the fact that the Red Cross never got their money) is that it’s now 2007, and it looks like we won’t be able to count our donation against the 2006 tax year.
When I brought this up to the Citi CSR, her response was that I should call the Red Cross to find out what happened (why? they’re not the ones that refused the transaction). She also said that, if it had been her, she would’ve called her credit card company immediately if she had trouble completing a transaction. Guess what? So would I. But as I made perfectly clear to her throughout the conversation, there was no indication of trouble on my end. The transaction appeared to go through and Citi made no subsequent attempt to get in touch with me. They just posted a notice on our account for us to see and respond to if/when we ever happened to login and see it.
When I pressed her on the lack of contact, she said that it had “only been a day” and they hadn’t been able to reach us yet. Hadn’t bothered trying is more like it — we were home continually from the time of the transaction until the moment I called, and our phone had been on the hook the entire time. She also stated that they have hundreds of thousands of customers, and can’t be expected to stay in touch with all of them. While I’m all for fraud prevention, this is way overboard.
I have since attempted to follow up with the Red Cross, even though this was in no way their fault (or mine, for that matter). Their donor hotline (1-800-435-7669) referred me to the National Donor Relations and Fundraising department at 1-800-797-8022. Unfortunately, they’re not set up to answer calls, and their voicemail system for requesting a callback seems to be broken — when I press ‘8’ to leave a message, I get error tones and a message saying that “Your call cannot be completed as dialed.” I have thus resorted to e-mailing their National Headquarters. I actually received a relatively quick e-mail response from an actual person, and am now waiting on a callback.
This will not, of course, stop us from donating to the Red Cross — I would just like to arrange for it to be credited in 2006 (for tax purposes), when I actually went through the motions of making the donation. But it is a major headache that I hadn’t counted on, and I place the blame squarely on Citibank. This also makes me wonder how many other donations didn’t go through, and how much money this will end up costing the Red Cross.