Whining for just a minute (re Citibank, Amazon)

I will get this off my chest, then back to matters of consequence:

1) A message in the inbox from Vikram Pandit! New CEO of Citibank! I have been a customer for decades, mainly because an immediate family member works there. Mr. Pandit tells me (and presumably zillions of other customers):

I want you to be among the first to know about the bold steps we are taking at Citi to be the premier, global, fully integrated financial services firm.

Our objective is to create for our customers an experience in which services are seamless, payments and transfers effortless, and distances meaningless. My commitment - and the commitment of everyone at Citi - is to work tirelessly around the world and around the clock to deliver outstanding value and service as we continue to earn your trust.


Here's a thought: maybe as a step toward your goal you could stop charging a TWO PER CENT service fee on ATM withdrawals at Citibank's own, branded, logo'ed ATMs overseas, or at least in China. I withdraw $300 worth of RMB from my US Citibank account, at a Citibank ATM in Beijing, and a $6 fee is tacked on. I realize that "usury" is not the correct term, but it's the general idea. Please don't hold it against my family member, but my wife and I just switched to Bank of America for this precise reason. FYI for anyone in China who doesn't know this already: B of A offers zero-fee withdrawals via China Construction Bank ATMs, which are everywhere across China. This adds up.

2) Amazon's "recommendation" service has sent me a message too! It thinks that, based on my previous purchases, I might like Vienna Blood, by Frank Tallis.

Very good guess! I thought that Tallis's Death in Vienna was a great genre book! Atmosphere (Vienna, 1902); suspense; learning about something you didn't know about before (Hapsburg culture, some history-of-psychology) -- all the elements of a satisfying mystery.

Maybe this is why I already ordered this exact book Amazon is now recommending, and about ten others, when I learned on May 5 that I would be making a quick trip later in the month to the United States. All the books I ordered were listed as "in stock." Of course they'd be ready by the time I headed back to China on May 22? Right?

Sigh. Wrong. Thanks, Amazon, for the recommendation -- and for the delivery notice I got on arrival in Beijing, saying that they would arrive at my father's house in California a few days from now. I'll pick them up on my next visit in the fall.

Communicating with the customer: it doesn't always work out just the way it's foreseen.

My commitment: no more whining for six months or so.