Like most Americans, even American Strategic Sourcerors, I have credit cards. Recently, my moving expenses have led me to carry a substantial balance on my Citibank MasterCard. When I received my bill this month, the monthly payment seemed extraordinarily high. I’m no math Wizard, (I’m a Sourcerer, remember) but the quick math told me something was wrong.

A closer look revealed that Citibank had, at its sole discretion, raised my interest rate to a lusty %29.99. This, I suppose is because usury restrictions start at 30%. While I don’t plan to carry the balance for long, the effect on my minimum payment was substantive. Again, I’m no mathematician, but even a few months at 29.99% interest . . . . . .well that could get ugly.

My call to the customer contact center; not customer service because customer service is an oxymoron these days, revealed that even though I schedule my electronic payment on the due date, it had not posted until two days later, making the payment “late”. Thus, Citibank, per my cardholder agreement, had the right to raise my cardholder interest rate to the legal limit; which they did, immediately.

The customer contact (not service) representative was even kind enough to tell me why my payment showed as late. Her kindness did not extend to helping me rectify what I thought was an unjust measure for a good and timely customer of eleven years. After numerous attempts to get her help and numerous “there’s nothing I can do’s”, I asked for a supervisor. The supervisor immediately restored my rate to the previous rate and credited me for the “unjust” interest charges.

When I asked the supervisor why the customer contact representative didn’t refer me to her as a possible solution; she simply replied, “That isn’t how it’s done. You have to ask”.

Of course that isn’t how it’s done. The system is designed to discourage folks from pushing for fair treatment. The fact is; many would and do stop there. So Citibank reaps the benefits of customer disservice.

But would you expect anything different? Have you seen Citigroup’s stock price lately? Banks and companies in general are pulling out all the stops to try and cut the bleeding. Whether it’s interest rate punishment, late payment penalties, fees and surcharges that mysteriously arise from the ether; the moral to this story is that the emptor better caveat like never before.

This new normal makes a great case for managed services, by the way. Managed services that closely monitor billing, kick out exceptions, and even advocate for your company like this Sourceror advocated for himself.

Two things are for certain. If you weren’t watching it before, you might want to take a look. If you were watching it, you might want to look closer. The Sourceror’s magic may extend to credit cards, but who knows whence the next dirty trick springs .

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