Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Citibank's Website Glitch Tricks Man Into Overpaying $755, But They Won't Issue Refund

Citibank's website isn't reliable, at least according to them. Matt assumed that a website from a bank could be trustworthy, and that if there was no scheduled payment showing up, then he must have forgotten to arrange it. He scheduled a second payment, but then both payments went through one day apart. Now Citibank refuses to give him a refund: he should have called or emailed before rescheduling, they've told him, and not trusted what the website was telling him.

Matt writes:

I have had the most unbelievable experience with Citi Card this week. In a nutshell, an error on their website led me to schedule two full payments and they won't give me the money back. Hopefully this story will prevent some of your readers from experiencing a similar problem.

On July 12, I received my Citi Card statement via email. The bill was $755.34 and was due on August 4. I went to the Citi website and scheduled a full payment to post on August 1. A couple weeks went by, and on August 1, I was getting ready to leave on a business trip, so I decided to check and make sure that the payment was indeed scheduled. I went to my Scheduled Payments page on Citi's website and it told me I had no scheduled payments. I then went to the page with my account status, and it still said I owed $755.34 by August 4. I assumed I either didn't schedule the payment, or I did and something went wrong. Either way, the website told me I had a bill due in three days and no payments scheduled, so I scheduled another payment of $755.34 for August 4.

As you can probably guess by now, on August 4, Citi made a deduction of $755.34 and then on August 5 made another deduction in the same amount. This brought my checking account within $52 of overdrafting, and my family and I were about to take a vacation to a small town where not every store takes credit cards. I called Citi and explained the situation, and they offered to return the money in 7 to 14 days, which was unacceptable. This was Wednesday. My wife and I would be paid on Friday, but we were going to be in a car without access to cash all day Thursday, so we needed the money immediately. They also blamed me completely for the debacle. When I repeatedly explained that I checked the scheduled payments page and was told nothing was scheduled, all they would tell me was that I should have called or emailed. But, why would I call or email, when I assume I can trust their website? Should I call or email every time I schedule a payment to confirm they received it? They then told me to call my bank and claim it as an unauthorized charge. I did so and was told an investigation would take place and I would have the money back in 7 to 10 days. Again, completely unhelpful. I said no thanks.

I called Citi back, argued with a supervisor for half an hour, and got absolutely nowhere. Just the same unbudging runaround. Completely infuriated, I told her to go ahead and put in the refund request, even though it didn't really do me any good.

So now, I get my mail today and find a letter from Citi, again blaming me entirely and telling me that no refund will be issued after all. So, Citi Card has a shitty website and gets to take out a $755 interest-free loan from me without my permission, and the whole stupid thing is my fault. I've dealt with a lot of bad customer service, but never any as sloppy and stubbornly unhelpful as this. I will be closing my Citi Card and would urge all of your readers to do the same.

Matt, we think you should escalate this higher up the Citibank food chain. It's unreasonable that a bank would hold their customer responsible for an error on their part, and it's absurd to think that it takes a bank up to two weeks to electronically re-deposit funds that they removed within a fraction of a second. Check out our Consumer's Guide to Fighting Back for suggestions on how to appeal to (hopefully) more reasonable minds at the executive level, including how to launch an Executive Email Carpet Bomb.

Original here

Georgia agrees to Russian-French plan to settle conflict

The presidents of Georgia and Russia have agreed to a six-point plan to calm the conflict over Georgia's separatist territories, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said late Tuesday.

The plan "cannot resolve the larger problems and issues," Sarkozy said. We need to work on those. But, obviously, it does underline and respect and guarantee Georgia's territorial integrity."

The agreement calls for an immediate cease-fire with Russian and Georgian forces withdrawing to the positions they held on August 6, before the outbreak of hostilities. It also allows displaced civilians to return home safely and opens Georgia to humanitarian aid workers.

The conflict centers on whether South Ossetia, where hostilities started last week, and Abkhazia will remain in the Georgian republic.

Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Sarkozy said the agreement was "hammered out with the president of Russia [Dmitry Medvedev] and also the prime minister, Vladimir Putin.

Sarkozy was a central figure in the negotiations in his role as current president of the European Union. He said the plan will be presented to the 27 EU ministers, then reviewed by the U.N. Security Council.

Sarkozy added that "our intent is to make [the agreement] long-term."

"What it is trying to achieve is peace in this region," he summarized.

Earlier Tuesday, after the French and Russian presidents met, Sarkozy said he and Medvedev agreed that Georgia is an independent country and Russia has no intention of annexing it. But Medvedev also said "sovereignty is based on the will of the people" and "territorial integrity can be demonstrated by the actual facts on the ground."

Saakashvili said he did not want to leave "any doubt" about whether Georgia's territorial integrity is up for discussion. "This is out of the question," he said.

He said he would welcome an international process for security arrangements.

"Georgia needs to get back to normal," he said. "For all the people who are suffering out there, this is good news."

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said: "I wanted to make very clear that the United States stands for the territorial integrity of Georgia, for the sovereignty of Georgia; that we support its democratically elected government and people, and are reviewing options for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Georgia. But the most important thing right now is that these military operations need to stop."

The announcement of the agreement came hours after Russia called a halt to its powerful military incursion into Georgia. Share your story of how the crisis is affecting you

Russian officials insisted their efforts were aimed at stopping Georgian military actions against Russian peacekeepers and citizens in the breakaway regions, with one Russian diplomat telling CNN as many as 2,000 people died after Georgia sent its military into South Ossetia on Thursday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia had no choice but to move militarily.

"If Russia had a different option of reacting to Georgia's aggression against South Ossetia, we would have used it," he said. "But we didn't have this option. When several thousand civilians are killed, the state must act accordingly."

At a rally in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Saakashvili said, "I think the political motive [by Russia] is very clear: to demonstrate to the world they couldn't care less about world reaction; to continue to cripple the country."

Reports from both sides of casualties have varied and have not been independently confirmed. Georgians rally at Parliament building

At the news conference Tuesday, Saakashvili said he had received "credible reports" of camps where killings had taken place and "innocent civilians" executed, and he cited "media reports" of a "weapon of mass destruction" used against a hospital.

Reports about fighting on the ground conflicted. Georgia complained the Russians had mined a military base, and scattered fighting was reported early Tuesday in some areas.

However, while the Georgians complained their country remained occupied by a large Russian force, they did not say there were any major offensives under way.

Georgian officials said there were attacks Tuesday, but there was no evidence of the kinds of the large-scale attacks that caused widespread damage in bombed-out places such as Gori. Georgians told CNN there was sporadic fighting in South Ossetia, but that was difficult to confirm. Video Watch more on the fighting in South Ossetia »

A Dutch cameraman was killed Tuesday morning in an incident in Gori, the Dutch Foreign Ministry confirmed. He was identified as Stan Storimans of RTL TV. The correspondent who accompanied him was also injured.

U.K.-based energy giant BP later said it shut down three oil pipelines in the region as a "precautionary measure" linked to the security situation. None of its pipelines had been attacked.

Earlier, in announcing his decision to halt the Russian military operation, Medvedev said: "The aggressor has been punished and has incurred very significant losses. Its armed forces are disorganized." Video Watch Georgia's reaction to halt in fighting »

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that it would be best if Saakashvili stepped down as Georgia's president, something he has not offered to do, but that Russia was not demanding his resignation. Video Watch Lavrov speak about Georgia »

On Tuesday, tens of thousands of Georgians converged on the capital, Tbilisi, for a day of rallies. In the evening they waved French, U.S. and Georgian flags at a rally where President Mikhail Saakashvili was joined by the leaders of Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Video Watch the rally »

Violence has raged since Georgia on Thursday launched a crackdown on separatist fighters in autonomous South Ossetia, where most people have long supported independence from Georgia.

Russian troops and tanks moved into South Ossetia on Friday and soon were pushing back the Georgian forces. Russian forces also moved into Abkhazia. Interactive map: See how far the Russians advanced »

Up to 100,000 people are thought to have been displaced in South Ossetia and Georgia by the violence, and witnesses are reporting the presence of unexploded ordnance in Georgian towns.

The United States, U.N. agencies, religious groups, and non-governmental organizations have started drives for humanitarian relief.
Original here