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:: Friday, July 19, 2002 ::

Taking turns as solicitors

Remembered these incidents when someone asked if I am interested in getting a credit card. It is about how Citibank played the credit card game with me.

It was around 2 year ago I guess. I had moved up in my financial status from a monthly four figure to five figures and thought it is time to reward myself with a creditcard. Having got a savings account with Citibank, and with their (then)good network in Bangalore, they were my natural choice and applied for a card with them. I assumed they will be only glad to have an application from me. But it was a surprise when I received a letter from them 3 weeks down the line saying that my application was rejected. Having been rejected, I decided to knock some other door and got my card from StanChart without any hassles.

Must be a year or so after that when one day, I found a citibank credit card in my snail mail. I was surprised, I had not applied for one. When I opened it, I found that it was a pre-approved card for an 'eligible customer'. And well, it came with strings, real thick and strong strings. On accepting the card, I would also be giving powers to citibank to move my money from my savings account to pay my card bills!! Naturally, I threw away the card. Neither did I want to succumb to such a ridiculous agreement not did I want to get another card that does not come free. That story ended there, but a couple of months back, when I was leaving abroad, I decided that it is time I have another credit card, just to be safe. I did not have enough time in hand, I needed a card within 10 days. Not wanting to approach citibank, I called up all possible credit card providers, like Amex, StanChart, HSBC and more. But the earliest I could get hold of another card was in 3 weeks and that would be too late for me. So, with no way out, I called citibank again. There was some hope here, they offered to get me a card in 7 business days, which meant 9 days. I would still get it a day before I leave and I was glad. So there I applied for a citicard and this time I was forced to sign the same ridiculous agreement. This time, I meekly surrendered, the need being mine.

9 days were over and there was no sign of the card arriving. I had to leave the next day. So I called citibank people and demanded for the status. The telephone operator fiddled for sometime with her computer and then told me they don't have any application from me!! I was shocked, and pleaded to check again. The response was the same. I wanted to shout at her but it was no fault of that poor call center lady, so I just put down the phone and cursed my fate. I had go without a second card.

The story continued again after I came back to Bangalore. One fine day, I had a representative from citibank coming to me and telling me that citibank has decided to give me a card. This time again, I had become the chooser and they had become the solicitors. Indeed, with all the past memories, I refused to meet this person and he had to go away.

These days, each time I go to citibank ATM to draw money, I see some one or the other sales person from them trying to sell something - like some insurance policy or credit card! But having decided never to do business with the bank unless I have to(like being forced to maintain my salary account there), I excuse from them even before they start their long and boring speech.

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