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Switch fee is applicable

On October 11, 2016, I was charged with one per cent switch fee, that is Dh6,646.26, by a new relationship manager in Citibank, Abu Dhabi, for switching mutual funds between the same fund house. This has always been free of charge during my 17-year-long relationship with the bank.

Replying to my query before signing the switch form on October 10, the relationship manager said this charge is not new as it has always been applied in the past, in background calculations and therefore, I had never noticed it before.

Later on, when she debited one per cent switch fee directly from my saving account on October 11, I disputed the transaction and registered many complaints with Citibank. I even showed the relationship manager records of all my previous free-of-charge switches on the same fund, twice done in 2008 through another relationship manager, once by a fund house in 2014 and once by myself, using an online switch facility in February 2015.

After checking all these records, she changed her stance and said this switch fee is new, and came into effect late last year. I visited the bank on October 16 and complained to her unit head, who also said this charge was introduced last year and it was communicated to all clients.

I requested him to send me a copy of this letter as proof. No proof has been provided to me till date. After constant follow up, the relationship manager sent me a link on October 20 to check the new schedule of fees for October 2016, which also did not say that the one per cent charge is applicable for switching fund between the same fund house.

After getting my online switch access restored from Citibank, I did one more online switch transaction on the same mutual fund on October 23, which was also free of charge.

I have been hassled a lot by both the relationship manager and the unit head on the above issue and a few other credit card related issues in the past, including my request to reimburse the Commercial Important Person (CIP) Lounge Access expense for six of my family members. Multan Airport Lounge had charged it to my primary card as Citibank was no longer registered in my home town. My family and I had availed this facility in our home town several times, since 1999. I had provided a copy of my family ticket to the relationship manager, which was purchased online using Citibank’s credit card. Customer service representatives also referred all my requests for reimbursement of lounge charges to the relationship manager, who never provided any help.

I am convinced that they have both cheated me and are trying to spoil a 17-year long good relationship with Citibank. They have also failed to give me time after office hours or even on Saturdays, during the past three weeks. I was disappointed when I visited the Abu Dhabi branch again on October 29, and was told to go to Dubai. I wasted over an hour in the Abu Dhabi branch, talking to the customer care staff. I had no other option but to walk out of the branch and call Citiphone for help.

I spoke with a representative in the customer care centre of Citibank’s Dubai branch on October 21 and October 29. He assured me that the head of customer care had raised my complaint with the vice president of customer care, who would look into the case. However, I have received no response from Citibank’s Dubai branch till date. Please advise what I should do to get my money back.

From Mr Tariq Zaffar

Abu Dhabi

The management of Citibank responds:

Thank you for your email. We write with reference to the complaint communicated to us on November 22. Switching charges were introduced in June 2016, when the bank implemented charges for switches done through the branch channel.

Applicable charges are disclosed through Citibank’s Schedule of Fees and Charges available on the Citibank website under citibank.com/uae/data/fin_charges.htm.

Switches done through Citibank online, our online banking channel, continue to be free of charge. In addition to the above, please note that the customer has been contacted by our customer service representative and his concerns have been addressed.

Mr Zaffar responds:

I am glad to confirm the reversal of the fund switch charges of Dh6,646.26 by Citibank. The bank statement issued on December 1, shows Dh6,646.26 credit into my account as reversal of disputed switch charges, which I had applied for on October 11.

I am grateful to Gulf News for resolving my complaint with the bank.

(Process initiation: November 22. Response from organisation: November 28. Reader confirmation: December 3.)

Editor’s note: Do you have similar issues that you would like to raise with us? You can write to us at readers@gulfnews.com.