Citibank does my head in

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Here is the sure-fire test to help you to determine if your company is way too big for its boots: has an email ever left your company, wherein the email header/sender reads, ‘do not reply to this email’. If your company has a ‘NoReply’ email of any shape or description, you must resign and stop being so grandiose. Get with the program. We live in a connected world? Do we? What’s with all that rubbish about mass customisation, communication, and offering personalised service? What do those board members do? How many board meetings discuss the simple question: are we delivering on our promise? Sack the bloody lot of them. What is it with large corporations? Perhaps they ought to be chopped into little pieces so that they can start acting like small businesses.

And before you cheer on, ask yourself if you are a shareholder in any way, via any means. If you are, and you have never taken this level of interest, then sell your shares and stop being a mug!

I called Citibank, asking if I could open a US checking (cheque) account. They could not help me. ‘Try the US branch,’ they advised. So I went on-line and filled in their form. It’s simple. I am from Sydney, Australia, and I need a US account. What do I need to do? So a reply came back that might as well have been written by fifty monkeys in a room whose walls are padded with computer keyboards. Just give the monkeys some tennis balls, and see which keys hit, and which keys register. Then, every thirty seconds, some software program can just press send. And there you have your answer. How stupid can organisations get? I explained that I am from Sydney, Australia, etc, but they advised me that I need to have a US Social Security Number and live in the US. And if I do not have appropriate US ID, I can go to a branch and present myself in person. From where do these people rent their brain cells? That might well be the requirements. However, I was asking a different question, and their response proves that they did not read my questions. They saw the words ‘US’ and ‘account’ and sent me the standard template. This is not called communications. Why ask so many questions when in the end, all I should have done was send them a three-word e-mail. ‘Hello, US account.’

By the way, in case anyone from Citibank is reading this, and you wish to look into this so that you can either sue me or serve me, here is the reference number you generated for me:


The person writing to me was ‘Sincerely, MyCiti Online Customer Service’. Fancy that. That’s what I get in response to their questions, such as, ‘What is your name and your mother’s maiden name and your shoe size?’ They want to know everything about me, but when it comes to contacting me, they are nameless, while I remain:


So I wrote back by pressing reply, which went to: [email protected]. It did not say NoReply, so I thought that there was some hope. Alas not. Within seconds, they wrote back saying: ‘Thank you for contacting us. For security reasons, this email address is not accepting mail. Please return to the Web page where you entered your original request or refer to the contact information listed on the original message that you received for any follow-up communication. Thank you!’

What security reasons? What a spasm. What an excuse. What a disgrace. Hey, I know all about software and automatic ticketing and call logging. I don’t care about that. If they have the cheek to have an email system, they should have the decency to catch up with the modern era and communicate via email. Oh, and why must everything go via their system? For logging? For archival? For training, monitoring, and quality assurance purposes? How stupid can anyone get?

Here is the lesson for the day!

1) Never send out an email where the recipient cannot press reply! Whatever is going through your mind about the trillions of reasons why this does not suit you, just stop. Dump it all out. Forget it. Not good enough.

2) Never send out an email where the sender is not identified by name and position.

3) When a customer responds to that specific name and position, never allocate the note to a ticketing system. Oh, the dozens of people I have had to deal with over one simple matter. Your help desk should remember that the word HELP is part of its name. It does not help the customer when agents receive a ticket, while they sit at home or with their feet up at a beach at Byron Bay, responding to tickets by shooting back questions and delaying the response to the poor customer. Help desk idiots, mostly ‘idiotified’ by their superiors and the Board, are paid to respond to tickets. What they say and how they say it, never seems to enter the equation. So they never answer a simple question. They just shoot back another question. In this way, they can say that they responded to a hundred tickets today. What a giggle-factory those help-desks are turning out to be. And the CEO is to blame, and the Board is responsible. And the shareholders ought to hang their head in shame. Where is all this quality assurance they keep telling me about every time they record my calls?

4) Never publicise a 24 hour help desk if the person taking the call is simply going to say, ‘Oh, please call back during business hours.’ Go to sleep and save me the bother. It’s like those doctors on radio who take calls, and anyone who phones in with a medical question is advised to consult their GP. Get off the air, people!

5) Never send out a letter where the person writing it, has no name, and whose signature is a scribble. Whoever sends out the letter must be identified, and their DIRECT phone number shown, and that number must not go to voice mail unless that person is dead.

6) If you are on a salary above $40,000, and if any of the above made you wince with discomfort, then get out of the service lark.

P.S. After posting this article, I sent a note to HSBC via an online form. I received a response within two hours. The sender provided her full name, street address, phone and fax numbers, and an email address, along with the links on how to fill in the forms, plus advice on what to do and how to do it, and which buttons to press and why. If HSBC can do it, why can’t other large organisations? It has nothing to do with technology. It’s all about soul and civility.

P.P.S. I called the lady from HSBC and she was delightful, happy, friendly, knowledgeable, and gave me great advice, send additional material within minutes, and offered to try a few ways to assist me, with a money back guarantee. Now, what could be fairer than that.

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