Yesterday my daughter Caitlin and I took a shopping cart worth of donations to the Salvation Army on 96th street. It is a good walk. Uphill and down, both ways. We took the dog, who was delighted to be out, and was very good about allowing me to be alpha lead. I have watched the Dog Whisperer show and have applied the very useful techniques Cesar Millan demonstrates. It has been a tad embarrassing to be in public and have a neurotic, not terribly bright, miniature dachshund taking point by darting, stalling, spinning, and sniffing strangers' ankles as if they were fresh meat. But now she trots along with me, not against me, and it is a good walk.
Sadly, my ATM card must have fallen (or been removed) from my pocket on the return walk. By the time I noticed an hour ago, some crook had already signed my name and made off with $162 bucks worth of MTA transit cards. Instead of a good Samaritan finding it, I got a thief. That was annoying. I wonder what percent of people would try to use it or would try to get it back to me? I called CitiBank, got them to send me a new card and put a "stop" on the old one. But wait...
In reviewing my bank statement, with the helpful guy sitting in a call center somewhere in India, I realized that more than one crook has been using my bank account for their gain. CitiBank, about a month ago, started charging a new fee for their "checking plus" overdraft protection. I need this protection--it is one of the reasons I bank with Citi. Because I wait for clients to pay me, sometimes the mortgage has to be paid when I don't have full funds. With the overdraft account, the bill gets paid and the bank makes 14% interest on that borrowed money. As soon as I get paid, I settle up with the overdraft account... Now they are charging $10.00 each day that an overdraft happens in addition to the 14%. How much does that make them? Usury. I sputtered. The guy I spoke to offered to waive the fees, now $30.00 worth, 10 of it thanks to the thief yesterday, because I am a "good customer" (as in having checking, savings, mortgage, IRA with them) and hadn't known about the change. "You should have known, we have certainly sent you letters," he said. "I didn't know," I replied. Really, they must have buried it in small type and business jargon.
So is this the way Citi will turn from their old bad workstyle of risky investments? After the bailout their big brains sat in a conference room and asked themselves, what can we do? Forget risk, charge customers new fees! Sneaky fees, take away their perks, make 'em pay, pay, pay! Gosh, that makes them on par with the notorious Bank of America. Was this the only new business model they could come up with! Sheesh. I am currently researching new banks. I don't need Citi to take even more of my already taxed dollars. Bad enough they got to siphon off a little of me through Uncle Sam's bailout, no more, the buck stops here.