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Part 2 - The Letter

Almost a full week after receiving my shiny new debit card, On December 27th, I received a letter from Manisha Parekh, the branch manager of the Allen Texas branch (where this entire ordeal started).

I hope you find the letter as interesting as I did:

RE: Checking Account #123456789 & 987654321

We are unable to meet your expectations and banking needs. We believe it is mutually beneficial to terminate our financial relationship.

Accordingly, we request that you close the above referenced account no later than January 11th, 2008. Should the account remain open at that time, the account will be closed and any remaining balance will be mailed to the address above.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter


Manisha Parekh

This letter came as a complete surprise to me and my wife. I have had both accounts open and in good standing for over 6 years. I never once have had an NSF. I couldn't possibly imagine why they would be forcing my accounts closed.

The letter is dated December 21st. That is the same day I finally received my debit card from FedEx. I couldn't help but think the entire debit card ordeal was related to this.

I called Manisha the next morning to ask why this letter was sent to me. She immediately became defensive on the phone. "Joe, I will not argue with you about this." I told her I'm not arguing, I simply want to know why my accounts are being forced closed. "We don't need a reason to close your accounts, we can close them for any reason or no reason at all. There are plenty of other banks that would like to have your business, but Citibank is no longer one of them". I tried to ask her another question, and received the response, "I will not go into the details of this matter with you." She flat refused to talk to me about it.

My wife and I immediately quit using the accounts. I opened a new account at another bank, and began transferring my money to that account. We reconciled our checkbook to find that 3 checks were still outstanding on the account. One was to a friend, we called her up. She still had the check, and said she would give it back. The other two were for my water bill, and a doctor bill.

Immediately I began to worry. What if she closes the account, and those checks have not cleared yet. She could really screw me up by doing that. After all, those checks were written prior to us receiving notice of the forced closure, so there really isn't anything I can do about it.

I called back and spoke with Jeff, a phone rep for Citi. I explained the situation to him, went through the story, and he took a few minutes to look over the account. He came back a couple minutes later with some interesting news. First, he said after reviewing my account history and account notes, he could find nothing that justified Manisha's letter. Second, he told me that she is not the account manager of my accounts, and under bank policy, she does not have the authority to force the accounts closed. Jeff gave me the information regarding my account manager, which happens to be the branch manager of the branch the accounts were opened, and told me I should call my account manager regarding this issue.

This morning, December 31st, I finally got in touch with my account manager. He agreed with Jeff, and said that normally when a situation warrants closing an account like this, the details of that would be documented in the account notes. He could find no documentation from Manisha regarding this action. I explained to him my concern about the outstanding checks, to which he was very understanding, and said he would monitor the account for me. He made a notation on the account that no-one is to close the account without contacting him first (after all, he is the account manager). He got the outstanding check information from me, and said he would watch for those two checks to clear.

Furthermore, he spent about 15 minutes just apologising for the situation, and trying to assure me that Citi does not do business like this, and that this was obviously poor business on Manisha's part.

It appears, through speaking with him, and Jeff, that Manisha is not following standard bank procedure, and I am left feeling that she is simply being vendictive. Maybe she got in trouble when I reported that one of her tellers gave me Mr. Smith's debit card... I'm really not sure what the problem is, but one thing is for sure...

I will never bank with Citibank, or any other bank that does something like this. In payment for me reporting their mistakes, I am forced to change banks, change direct deposit with my, and my wife's, employers, and start back at check number 1001. It has been six years since I wrote check number 1001... wow.

Anyway, I would encourage you to think twice before banking at Citibank as well. Especially if they have branch managers out there that have the attitude that they can force accounts closed "for any reason, or for no reason".