Burlingame woman wins battle with big bank

June 10, 2013 7:12:36 PM PDT
It's so important for each spouse to have his or her own credit. A Burlingame woman had a credit card that was in her husband's name. She used the card for 23 years, paid everything in full and on time but after he died, the bank took the card away and wouldn't let her apply for a new one.

Catherine Buechi of Burlingame still misses the life she shared with her husband Cuno.

"The best marriage ever," she said.

After 52 years of marriage, Buechi took over the household accounts, including a credit card from Citibank.

She and her husband had used the card for 20 years. After her husband died, Citibank let her transfer the card to her name. She used it for the next three years. And then it happened.

"I was grocery shopping and I used my card," she said.

The card was suddenly rejected. Buechi figured it was a faulty swipe machine but it happened again.

"I took two friends to dinner. When I got the bill the waitress came back and gave it back to me," said Buechi. This time she called Citibank and asked to find out if there was a problem.

"She said 'I'm sorry the card has been canceled.' And I said 'why?'" Buechi said.

It made no sense. The couple had paid the balance on that card in full every month for 20 years. Buechi did the same for three years after her husband died.

"My financial situation hasn't changed any. I own my own home, I don't' have any payments to make," she said

Later she got the official notice. Citibank said putting the account in her name had been approved in error three years ago.

The letter read: "Your total credit obligations, when compared to your stated income, are too high to meet our approval guidelines."

Buechi offered to re-apply for a card based on her own credit rating. She says the bank refused. She then contacted 7 On Your Side to look into her case.

Citibank did not explain why it canceled her card except to say:

"Due to an error when the account was initially transitioned, it was necessary to update the customer's account information in late 2012.

We subsequently worked with the customer to open a new account and apologize for any inconvenience."

The bank issued her a new credit card after all.


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