Credit card company won’t refund membership fee

(WSVN) - He paid a $450 membership fee for a credit card. The company then canceled his card, refused to return his $450 and would not let him know why they canceled his credit card — and that’s why he called up Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Anil Sharma is in the phone business.

Anil Sharma: “This is an Obi Android phone designed in the U.S., manufactured in China.”

You may not have never heard of the Obi phone because they are not found in the United States, but Anil sells them all over the world.

Anil Sharma: “Our headquarters are based out of Dubai. I do travel a lot between Europe, the Middle East and all of Latin America.”

Anil likes to fly American Airlines and says, on a recent flight, a brochure for a Citibank American Advantage card caught his attention. So he decided to get the card.

Anil Sharma: “It came as a pre-approved thing. They set out a credit line limit to $25,000.”

Anil says he didn’t mind paying the $450 annual fee for the card because of the airline miles it came with.

Anil Sharma: “There’s a 60,000-mile bonus because it is attached with American Airlines, and I am an American Airlines platinum member for a very long time.”

Anil Sharma

Anil got the card. The first month he charged $4,000 in travel expenses.

Anil Sharma: “As soon as we got the bill, we paid it off.”

And then…

Anil Sharma: “I received a letter saying that they had canceled my card, which was a shock.”

Anil says he has very good credit, so he called the bank, which sent a letter that said, “Citibank maintains the right to close your account at any time for any reason.”

But Anil says they wouldn’t tell him the reason. OK, he said.

Anil Sharma: “That’s fine. If you want to cancel it, it’s OK, but refund me my annual fee that you have charged me.”

Citi refused, writing, “We respectfully decline your request for a credit of the annual fee.” So now Anil has paid $450 for a credit card that was canceled, and he never got his 60,000 miles since he wasn’t able to charge the amount needed to get those miles.

Anil Sharma: “And then they are enrolling people like me and canceling, and they are getting away with it. I want the money back, and I want from them to do the same for anybody they have done it to also.”

Well, Howard, the credit card company won’t tell Anil why they canceled his new card and won’t return his $450 dollar fee. Legally, can they do that?

Howard Finkelstein: “No. It’s very simple. It doesn’t matter what product or service it is. If you pay for something and they don’t provide it, you get your money back. The only exception? If you do something to breach the contract. Then they can keep your fee, but they have to tell you what you did, and if not, they have to return your money.”

We contacted Citibank to try to get to the bottom of this. They told us they couldn’t discuss Anil’s account with us, but they had sent him a letter explaining why they had canceled him and would send another letter. He got it. It said the same thing as the prior letters, did not explain why they canceled Anil and said they still refused to return his $450 annual fee.

Anil Sharma: “They think they are a big bank and that they can get away with it.”

Consider Anil baffled by this, because if there was a reason for Citibank to cancel his card, he says it’s news to Anil’s other credit card companies.

Anil Sharma: “I have other credit cards, and if there is something bad that they saw, then the other credit card companies should have also seen it, which is not the case.”

Anil is going to keep fighting to get his money back, and we will do what we can to help him. First thing he could do: file a federal complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

And if you have a problem with your credit card company, that agency may be able to help you. The link to their website is below this Help Me Howard story.

Piling up miles traveling to fix a problem? Ready for someone to charge in to help? Let us take a swipe at it. We don’t want any credit. We get the bonus of helping you.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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