Well, hello stranger(s). I know it’s been a while. I also know my posting schedule has officially gone from somewhat-understandably to annoyingly to unacceptably late. Turns out working at an early-stage start-up while maintaining some sort of life actually takes up three lives, and I’m currently looking to find the third.
But this post isn’t to provide excuses for my chronic lateness or promises of future posts yet to be fulfilled.
This post is for you, Citi Bank – and how you have mysteriously and frustratingly left out a core, near-industry-standard benefit on one of your cards. A card that is supposedly “premier,” no less.
I’m talking about a return protection, of course. You call it a return “guarantee” on some of your other cards, but let’s do away with the semantics and commiserate over why the Citi Premier card does not have return protection of any kind.
Let’s face it. We – the frequent-flyers and otherwise credit-card-savvy crowd – have been spoiled with generous return protection benefits from the likes of American Express. When we buy something and decide we don’t want it anymore, but the merchant decides, for whatever reason, to refuse a return, we could ask our credit card to reimburse us for the return within a reasonable time period after purchase.
The retro-chic lava lamp that looked like a good idea on the final clearance table at T.J. Maxx? Covered. The “extra breathable” (read: leaky) rain jacket you knew was too cheap to be true? Also covered. The eyeglasses you later find make you look like a retired tortoise? Yes, even that too – is covered.
I mention American Express because they are near and dear to my heart for saving me from more situations of buyer’s remorse than I care to admit publicly. And look, I’m not expecting you to adopt their unspoken and industry-leading statement-credit-within-24-hours-no-paperwork-necessary-thanks policy. But quietly leaving out return protection in any shape or form seems a bit cheap, don’t you think?
It’s especially tacky for a card that’s marketed as being for “everywhere that life takes you.” Sometimes life takes you to stupid purchases or stingy merchants or both. What then, Citi?
Now, don’t try to spin this lack of benefit as a benefit of reinforcing personal responsibility and reducing frivolous spending. Leave that to the GOP. I’ll admit generous return policies might encourage us to spend more – but isn’t that the whole point? After all, you get your 2-3% cut out of our frivolity too.
I get that you offer your “return guarantee” benefit on your Prestige card (in exchange for a modest $450 annual fee). But you also offer it on your AAdvantage Platinum card – which has the same $95 annual fee!
Though even for the select few Citi cards that do offer this “return guarantee,” it seems like you’re willing to drag your customers to hell and leave them there before you ever reimburse a declined return. Sending us to some sketchy slow-loading site to “opt-in” to a 60-day policy is no substitute either.
Leaving return protection benefits off your core ThankYou card, the cornerstone of your rewards program that competes directly with the likes of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and just about every Membership Rewards card from American Express (all of which offer return protection), seems dubious. It definitely disqualifies the ThankYou Premier card from being my go-to card for primary spending.
I know you’ve spent a lot of energy on revamping the ThankYou points program and cards to make them, well, better. Return protection would definitely help.
Someone who is looking to sell a pair of like-new running shoes, worn only once – I swear!