Dear Angela at Citibank,

I'M REALLY SORRY I PUT YOU IN AN AWKWARD POSITION earlier today when I visited your branch. The thing is, Angela, the last time I was in – remember, when Citibank  threatened to freeze my dormant accounts unless I "used" them – I added just enough money just to keep them open. Because a girl never knows when she might need to have a bank account. You weren't charging me to have them, so I just…. kept them. 


But then I noticed that my already low balance was… negative! And then I got a letter from Citibank telling me my accounts were "overdrawn" and I needed to visit a branch and pay the negative balance in order to "unlock" them. Which seemed funny, because I didn't have to visit a branch to open the accounts – Citibank did that for me for free when we transferred an equity line of credit there a few years ago.

So I called, Angela, but the frosty lady I spoke to when I phoned Citibank said she couldn't help me unless I deposited enough money to cover the negative $21.32 that your repeated fees caused, which could only be accomplished by visiting a branch. That's not your fault; it's policy, right? And it probably isn't your fault that the nice guy who met me at the door and asked me how he could help, couldn't. "I can't waive the fees, Ma'am," he said as he stared at his monitor. "Those are the rules."

"I'd like to speak with a manager, please," I replied.

Anyway, Angela, even though you didn't smile at me, you handled the transaction pretty well, considering how peeved I was when I walked into your branch. I simply stated that I'd be willing to let the whole thing go if you would just zero out the negative balance and close the accounts. You said you could do that! Unlike that nice guy who also works with you, you had the power to do something.  And you did. 

So thanks again, Angela, for your help today. Considering your bank was trying to tell me, in a greedy, passive-aggressive way, that they no longer wanted me as a customer, you were pretty nice about it. Even if you did make me wait 10 minutes while you queued up for the one teller working the window (who staffs only one teller at lunchtime??) to credit my account to wipe out the negative balance that was caused because Citibank decided they would rather have $60 of mine than my business.

Citibank got their wish, finally. Hey – you don't have to hit me between the eyes with it! You should have just come right out and asked me. Now you will have a lot more time to pay attention to your customers who actually USE their accounts. At least until they realize it's ROBBERY to charge $20 a month to maintain an account with a balance of less than $1,500. 

I know when I'm not wanted. And now you know, Angela, why I have been a loyal customer of my credit union since the late 1990s. They don't charge me ridiculous fees. They're straight up with me; none of this "let's fee her to death till she figures out we no longer want her stupid little accounts" bullshit. 

It's been real, Angela. Vaya con dios, Citibank.


Your Former Customer



I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE PLAYING Monopoly last night…

2012-03-22 10.13.01

But the 7-year-old set up the game and counted out the money and pretty much insisted that it was going to happen. And then the 15-year-old heard we were playing and wanted in on the fun. And then I remembered that in 5 or 6 years, the 7 year old isn't going to want to have much to do with his old mom, and when that time rolls around the 15-year-old will already be away at college. And so, on a weeknight, instead of focusing on homework or chores, three of us played Monopoly.

And it was fun.


You want me to give you my WHAT?

Facebook-logo2I KEEP THINKING THIS THING about employers requesting applicants' Facebook account passwords is going to blow over.  That it's one of those crazy urban myths. That it's impossible to trace it back to its source and now people are spreading it simply because everyone's talking about it and it carries a certain amount of alarm.

I also heard that kid Mikey from the Life cereal commercials died from combining Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola.

Why won't this ridiculous story just go away? This morning as I was getting ready for work, my local news outlet reported on it! Here's the thing: I have yet to hear anyone come forward and say yes, I applied to work at XYZ Company, and they asked me for my Facebook account information.  And until I hear that, I just can't believe that any employer that's been doing business in the United States for any length of time would dare to go down that very dangerous road. 

This blog post on Fistful of Talent articulates why. If you, Ms. Recruiting Manager, gain access to my account, then you will probably find out things about me that laws say you MAY NOT USE when making your decision to hire me.  You may learn my age, or that I'm pregnant, or that I'm a devout insert-religion-here, or that I'm homosexual (or a homophobe). You may learn that I have a child with a health issue and you may conclude that I might miss a lot of work because of it. You may learn that my cancer is in remission, and not hire me for fear it'll return, or that I smoke, or drink a lot, or have very strong political opinions, or am seeing a shrink. Heck, you may learn that I drive an old car and conclude that I'm going to have problems commuting and assume me to be less than dependable.

You may be tempted to draw all kinds of conclusions about the kind of employee I'm going to be, without knowing the full story, and you might decide not to hire me because of it. And then I will probably sue you because YOU JUST CAN'T DO THAT.

I'm sure stranger things have happened; but to me, it just sounds like a trumped-up story that's being circulated for its shock value.

Even if this story is an exaggeration, there's a nugget of caution we all can take away from it. Have you Googled yourself? Because you can be assured, your current and future employers have, or will. Make sure your Facebook privacy settings don't allow the random public to see things you wouldn't want them to see – photos, videos, status updates – it's just good sense to be cautious. Think before you Tweet. Or blog. Or, for that matter, comment on a blog. I'm not saying don't Tweet or blog or leave comments, just know that when you do, the Whole Wide World can see it.

Think of it this way. Like many kids, my son started Facebooking in middle school. When he signed up then, we made it conditional on him "friending" his dad and me. Now he's a sophomore in high school, and recently, he "unfriended" us. At first I was alarmed, but then it occurred to me that when I was his age, my parents didn't have that kind of access to my personal life. (And thank the goddesses for that!) I was free to complain about my mom to my friends, or drop the occasional F-bomb, without her reading about it and freaking the freak out because it was all over my Facebook page.

Should parents expect to have that kind of access to what goes on in their kids' heads? Because it's possible, should it be required?

I can see the flip side of my argument: I might pick up evidence that my son is depressed or using drugs or drinking at parties or having sex or bullying another kid or planning a shooting rampage. But if I'm already paying attention to my kid, communicating with him, as any good parent will, I feel like I would sense trouble in the clues he was giving me anyway.

In short: Just because I *can* have that kind of access, doesn't necessarily mean I *should* have that kind of access.

Of course, he hasn't yet figured out that his settings still allow me to see his Facebook wall, so yeah, I look at it. I can't comment, but I can see it. And that goes back to my earlier point that if potential employers can see stuff, it's fair game… but asking for full access is several steps over the line in my book.

Now, if you yourself have been personally asked by a potential employer – or your current one – to fork over full access to your secret Facebook life – I'd love to hear about it! Until then, I'll be over here, chewing Pop Rocks and swigging soda pop.