AND, THEN AGAIN……………… Tamara Pettit

Mr. Ron Vechis Pres & CEO CITIBANK COSTCO PBOX 790046  St. Louis, MO 63179

Dear Sir:

I write to address your monthly correspondence from Citicard Costco to my late husband, William Kiefer, regarding his  delinquent membership fee and now the late charges on that.    By late, I do not mean Bill is tardy in paying his bill.  By late, I mean he is dead and had been dead six months when you levied the membership fee.   He passed away Dec. 15, 2022.   He was, in fact, dead almost six months when in July 2023 you assessed him a membership charge of $148.00.   I could understand your error had you not been notified by me, as his wife and executor, within two weeks of his death with a letter canceling his card and a death certificate to prove he was indeed dead.

About four months ago Bill  began getting a bill each month with the cumulative late charge from Citibank Costco (I should point out the card was his and his alone);   After a few months his attorney, (who had also assumed his position as legal counsel at Bethany College and as such was getting his e-mails) called to let me know Bill’s account had been turned to a collection company which  dealt in bills owed by their deceased customer.    While I and Bill’s attorney had met all our legal obligations and probate was closed, I thought I had best clear up this bizarre situation.

And so, I began my journey with Citibank Costco for hours and hours on hold where no one understood the situation nor who could help me.  Kudos, however, to each of those individuals who offered me condolences.   I finally made my way to the probate department of Citibank Costco who was able to pull out the complete file where she saw :  my letter, the death certificate, date of death,  charge for membership fee (six months later) and the subsequent bills as that membership fee grew into the national debt.  She agreed there had been a miscommunication and that the whole matter was “forgiven.”

Until my attorney called to let me know Bill had been turned over to the dead person collection fee.  He gave me perhaps the most sensible advice in the whole situation, “It would probably be easier and cheaper for you to just pay the $258 (Yes, it had grown) to put this to rest.”   The hair on the back of my neck stood up, all the bad and sad feelings from a year ago surfaced and I thought “Hell, no!”

And, then I got the notice from the recovery company that they were pursuing the charge.    Nobody had communicated that this was a horrid mistake inflicted on a grieving spouse.   Nope, they wanted their money which was growing by the minute.  And so, I began my telephone communication with the debt recovery company.   It too consisted of long waits, employees who gave me their condolences but couldn’t fathom how a dead man incurred a membership fee and trying to make sense of it said, “did he charge anything on it during that year.”   “He was dead.  He couldn’t charge anything when he was dead.”  I responded rather loudly.  They quickly passed me along to a woman whose name and identification I took down and who understood that the company had made a grievous error.  She apologized and said within the week I would have a letter in hand apologizing for their error.

That was two going on three weeks ago.   And, while I do have a letter, it is the one asking Bill to pay his membership fee along with the late fee.

 Why do I have the temerity to address this letter to the President and CEO and not go through the proper channels? Been there, done that.  Proper channels don’t work.    And, because I own and publish a newspaper and believe that readers need to know about these mistakes which go on for perpetuity.  If this happened to me, I would venture to say it happened to many other grieving spouses who just paid the amount.  And your company got the money which they had no right to because you were incompetent and just didn’t care.

This may not seem like a very big problem for your company, but it grows in proportion every time I take that file out and look at the death certificate It takes me right back to the days after his death and my grief washes over me once again.  No, sirs, this is EXACTLY the problem you need to be dealing with.  When banks and companies are so big, they don’t recognize the pain they inflict by their incompetence,

I await your response.

Mrs. Tamara Pettit

Spouse and Executor for William Kiefer

(Am I going to send this letter.  Yes, I think I am.   Anyone who has experienced a death and is the executor know that your heart is breaking as you make sure you dot every I and cross every T.  I’ve been fighting this battle too long to let this continue so for me and every other widow who has had to put up with this type of thing I’m going on the offensive.  Bill had a great sense of humor and might laugh about it, but he did not suffer fools and would tell me to go on the offensive)