Team 10: Poway woman fights back against bank that didn't pay promotional bonus

$400 reward for $15,000 deposit didn't happen
Posted at 7:17 PM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 22:17:51-05

Kueichen Hsieh kept every document inside her blue Citibank folder, including the brochure that promised to pay her a $400 bonus if she opened a new account with $15,000. With interest rates so low, Hsieh recognized an opportunity for a good return.  All she had to do was keep her money in the account for 30 days. 90 days after that, $400 was supposed to be deposited in her account.

She watched her account like a hawk. On January 17th, Hsieh checked it. The money wasn't there. She says she called Citi's customer service three times. 

"They all told me a different story," she said. 

Although Hsieh says the customer service representatives told her to expect a call-back with 24-48 hours, she said that didn't happen.

She got in the car and drove to the Citibank branch on Poway Road. A teller there told Hsieh the bank has had thousands of complaints. 

"I just asked when can I get my money?," Hsieh recalled, "He said I have to wait in line."

She wasn't about to give up. Hsieh asked for a meeting with the branch manager. She also called Team 10, inviting us to go along with her for that meeting.

When the manager found out Team 10 was involved, she told the Hsieh and her husband she could no longer speak to them and instructed them to wait until she could speak to the corporate office.

The manager did not speak to Team 10, but instructed us to call Citibank's Consumer Public Affairs Department. They did not return our call Friday, but when we called back Monday we were assured Citibank would look into it.

Several hours later we received this brief statement: 

"We're pleased to report that we were able to resolve this issue for the customer. Addressing customer concerns is very important to us."

The bank did not offer an explanation about what caused the delay.

"The key is the fine print," said San Diego State University Finance Instructor Scott McGann, who says bank promotions can be great deals, as long as customers make sure they understand what it takes to qualify for the bonus bucks.

McGann said some bank customers disqualify themselves by making withdrawals from their accounts before the specified time listed in the fine print. Some accounts require direct deposit and withdrawals to qualify. The onus is on the customer.

If customers follow all the rules, McGann said the banks should distribute the bonuses promptly. If not, calls to customer service are warranted.

If you have problems with a California bank branch, you can lodge a complaint with the State Attorney General.