Make the McKenzie Connection!

Citibank credit card dispute problem: Did they just short me $550?

Problem Solved

Steven Tabet cancels his timeshare but doesn't receive a full refund as promised. Why won't Citibank help him? And is there any way to appeal Citibank's decision?

I purchased a timeshare while I was on vacation in Mexico. I stayed at the resort for two extra days and received a spa package with the understanding that I would be charged for the value of those items if we rescinded the purchase agreement. I signed the "Membership Activation Letter" that listed the incentives and the associated value.

When I returned home, I decided to cancel the agreement. The resort sent a rescission letter indicating charges of $1,325 for the two nights in a hotel and a spa treatment I received. However, I had only agreed to pay the amount noted on the Membership Activation Letter, which came to $775.

I disputed the entire $1,325 bill on my Citibank credit card, but Citibank sided with the timeshare company.

I have escalated this case to an account supervisor and manager at Citibank. On my last call, the account manager told me the dispute team had researched the case and that there was nothing more they could do. I was responsible for the $1,325, and my only other recourse was to send a letter to the office of the president of Citibank. Can you help me get a refund from Citibank?

Steven Tabet, Lithia, Fla.

You're a smart man to back out of the timeshare. I get more complaints about timeshares than I have time to advocate for, which has turned me into a timeshare skeptic.

You know what I love about your case? You have everything in writing, including the timeshare's promise not to charge you for the hotel room if you change your mind about buying the timeshare. It's unclear why Citibank's dispute department would not credit you.

I have a detailed guide on how to file a credit card dispute on my consumer advocacy site, I also list the names, numbers, and email addresses of the Citibank executives in charge of customer service.

Your case is a cautionary tale about promises made in the heat of the moment. Your timeshare company wanted to make a sale, and it offered you something it wasn't prepared to give you.

You escalated this by the book -- in writing, and up the ladder at Citibank. I'm impressed. But I'm not so impressed by the way the bank kept turning you down. The last manager was correct, though. You could have appealed this to Citibank's office of the president. I'm not sure it would have made much of a difference. Credit card disputes are highly automated and rely on artificial intelligence, so you probably would have just gotten another form rejection written by an AI.

If I can find fault with anything you did, it is that some of your interactions with the bank were by phone. Those can help get a question answered, but you need something in writing when you're dealing with a credit card dispute.

I contacted Citibank on your behalf. A representative reached out to you by phone.

"I spent about 30 minutes discussing the situation with her," you said. "Eventually, we got to the point where she acknowledged that their dispute investigation team had made a mistake."

Citibank agreed to credit you for $550 over two billing periods, which it did.

"I fought this battle for about six months, and you were able to get through the logjam in just a couple of days," you said.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at

© 2024 Christopher Elliott


Reader Comments(0)