Citizens Bank credit card dispute idiocy

By | January 28, 2011

I recently sent Citizens Bank, the issuer of our primary credit card, a letter disputing a charge on the card. Being eminently familiar with the rules surrounding such disputes, I included in my letter all of the required information. A week or so later, I got back this letter:

You can click on the letter to see a larger version. The circled sentences may be a bit difficult to read. The first one says, “The following information is required to initiate your dispute.” The second one says, “Please complete this form immediately, as the dispute process starts upon receipt of this form.”

Angry that the bank would waste my time making me fill out a form when I’d already provided all of the necessary information, I called and complained. The woman I spoke with put me on hold for a while and then came back and told me that I didn’t actually have to fill out the form because I had already provided all the necessary information; it’s just that the computer sends the letter automatically whenever a charge is placed in dispute.

I pointed out to her that “the computer” had sent me a letter which told me I needed to do something that I did not actually need to do, and that there was no indication on the letter that I might not need to send back the form, and that I had just been made to waste my time calling up the bank to find out why I received the letter. She dismissed my complaint and made it clear that she thought I was being unreasonable to expect the bank not to tell me I needed to fill out and send back a form which in fact I did not need to fill out and send back.

What a bunch of idiots.

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8 thoughts on “Citizens Bank credit card dispute idiocy

  1. sxrehborn

    That letter was sent to you because when you first call in, you speak with an uneducated customer service representative (you know, the kind you love to yell at). These guys then pass the information up the ladder to a case processor, who is well trained in the dispute process and all federal, bank, and credit card company (i.e. visa, mastercard, discover, amex) dispute regulations.

    The phone reps rarely leave good notes for us to follow, and the system they input the information is a bunch of click boxes and 60 character max data entry boxes, so if you spent 30 minutes telling them whats wrong, you can bet that it was compressed into a very very tiny nutshell.

    It can also happen that a phone rep completely drops the ball and doesnt pass along any info, meaning your dispute doesnt get started at all, and by the time you realize that you are likely to be outside of your 60 day time frame.

    At the end of the day, it is much better to send a detailed letter. it doesnt really take any longer when you figure the time you spend on hold or the fact that you are going to have to tell the whole story again to the case processor that finally gets assigned to the case. A letter will go directly to the person handling the dispute, and if you use common sense and include all pertinent information, it is unlikely that you will be hounded for additional information.

    1. jik Post author

      Um, you appear to not have read my blog entry before posting your comment about it.

      As I said in my entry, I didn’t “call in” to initiate my dispute, I sent a letter, and that letter contained all of the information necessary to initiate the dispute. The woman with whom I spoke about the letter that was unnecessarily sent to me even confirmed, as I noted in my entry, that the letter sent to me was unnecessary and I didn’t need to send it back because I had already provided all the necessary information. So your claim that I was sent a form letter because some low-level telephone agent didn’t record enough information about my dispute is simply wrong.

      Not to mention the fact that if I had, indeed, initiated the dispute by phone, then it would have been correct for the bank to send me a form letter to fill out and sign even if the agent did record everything I told her, because under federal law, filing a dispute by phone does not preserve the cardholder’s rights… For that, the dispute must be filed in writing.

      1. Shaun

        I was in the business. I was suprised she was so honest. They purpose of sending the letter is the hope you will get fed up and give up, that or get pushed out side the 60 day window(which is a lie, you actually have 18 months),but you really need to know what to put in the letter( reason codes published by Visa & MC). The 60 day referes to goods purchased, but they blanket everything with it.

        First, you need to get passed the cust service rep with kindness and ask to be transfered to the dispute dept. All you need then is there fax #, saves a lot of time and head ache. Fax it in with a foolow up call 3 days latter to be sure they got it. The merchant has 45 days to respond. I advise calling every 5 days to stay on them

  2. Pingback: Citizens Bank Credit Card - CREDIT BOX – CREDIT BOX

  3. Paulette Woody

    I am very upset with this bank , i feel they did not do anything to take care of the problem.They are charging me an over draft fee and i never used this account. I even did a dispute form. and no one contact me I applied for a payday loan which i never recieved. This money market advertiser went into my account and citizens gave them the money. and tried to say i had to pay it back. So i disputed it and the money market advertiser place returned all the money.Then citizen retured with a letter to me saying i owed them for a bounced check fo what. I am contacting toe authorities and my attorney for fraud, becausei never used that account. It is now closed. But i do not want it to later come back and bite me. or say i owe them more money or i am in the check system. I believe citizens bank to have committed fraud. Please respond to my request and let me know whats going on. I spoke with Gregat citizens bank in customer service,and he assured me i owe nothing and will not be put in check system. Greg was @telephone number 1-800-9999. I recorded the whole conversation. Like i said please respond to my request before it goes any farther. you can reach me at telephone #585-285-3416 or 585-727-8321. or e-mail me at Thank you Ms.paulette woody

  4. AMG

    I’d send it in anyway, just so they can’t claim later that your claim was never processed because you didn’t send in the form that they told you had to send in before they told you that you didn’t.

    And I’ll give Citibank props because about 7 years ago when I called to challenge three charges on my Diner’s Club, they immediately took the charges off my card, closed the account, and next-day-aired me a replacement card, a letter confirming that the charges had been revoked, and a form letter for me to fill out and send to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion to put a fraud alert on my record.

    1. jik Post author

      Good question. The paperwork to switch to Century Bank is sitting in my paperwork pile. Unfortunately, we haven’t had time to do it. It isn’t a simple matter of just opening up a new account, because it involves a Home Equity Line, and transferring one of those is a complicated process which at various points has to involve both my wife and me showing up in person at the bank together (if I could do it myself, it would be much easier).

      This particular problem was with my Citizens Bank credit card, not my bank account, and I don’t want to switch to a new credit card until the home equity line switch is put to bed, because switching credit cards dings your credit rating and I don’t want to take the risk of reducing my credit rating right before opening up a new home equity line.

      In short, we’ve just been too busy to switch. In the meantime, as long as I’m stuck with Citizens Bank, I’m going to keep doing my man-in-the-street reporting on their various forms of brokenness. 🙂


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