Well at least for now…
For the last few years Citibank has made some serious head ways into the Thai banking industry and for awhile they too had fee free ATM machines.
Recently I heard rumors that they started charging a 150THB fee for taking money out.
So today, since I needed to withdraw some cash anyways I decided to head over and check out to see if it was true.
I usually head to the Citibank branch right on the Sukhumvit and Asoke junction.
But when I get there, the moment I put my card in the machine some bank employee asked if I could take my cap (a NY Yankee baseball) off.
It’s a “WTF” moment and I asked, “You want me to take my cap off the whole time?” And he answers yes. Okay, it’s not a big deal I guess.
This is strange. Of all the times I’ve withdrawn money from any ATM at any bank, especially at this same Citibank branch, no bank employee has ever asked me to take off my cap.
And as far as I know there are no dress codes in banks. What if I had worn this? Which I would if I could stand next to the guy who asked me to take my cap off.
Sure, I know in Asia, particularly Thailand, the better you’re dressed the better service and treatment you’ll get. I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans plus the cap in question. Which is probably what hundreds of other foreigners wear that have passed through their doors to peruse their ATMs, since the location is a tourists haven.
So a “WTF” was in order. But I didn’t want to argue with the guy. He’s just a bank employee, not a security guard mind you because the guy spoke English well. I think he was ordered by a manager or something because he was talking to someone afterwards. But I bit my tongue and refrained from asking, “Is there a customer dress code here?”
So I’m thinking, do I look like a f***king criminal? It’s the most obvious conclusion. Look at that profile picture to the left of your screen. That’s really me. Hardly the face of a mugger right? So to me an explanation was at least in order? I really wanted to know, if it is Citibank’s policy to require someone using their ATMS to remove a cap or hat like you’d have to at an airport’s passport control. Or am I really a security risk?
Anyways I just wanted to get this quickly over with. I popped in my card, entered my PIN and selected the amount I wanted to withdraw. A message indeed popped up saying there would be a 150THB charge. And I was given the option to decline the option which I did.
So the guy that asked me to take my cap off was standing by the door. The more I was thinking about what just occured I started to getting upset as I approached the exit. The guy didn’t even look at me because I know he sensed I wasn’t happy. But what could I really do? Call him a douche bag (note to self, learn how to say douche bag in Thai)? Was so close and tempted. Or ask to speak to the manager and say I got dissed? This was dumb so I just let it go.
Because it’s not like I’ll ever be going back to Citibank in Bangkok anymore with that 150THB surcharge.
Today all over Bangkok there are many Citibank kiosks with account managers trying to get people to open new accounts.
Next time one of them ever approaches me to ask if I want to open an account I’ll ask them if I need to take my cap off to apply. The confused looks on their faces would be priceless.
I should add that I use HSBC debit cards but if you have a Citibank card you might be exempt. You should double check. I know whenever I use my HSBC debit card at any HSBC ATM I never get charged a fee. Too bad HSBC ATMs are non-existent in Thailand. But they’re pretty much all over parts of Asia where I travel.
So I went across Asoke road straight to Terminal 21 Mall and headed straight for the ground floor which is where an Aeon bank branch is located. I popped in my ATM card and selected how much money I wanted to withdraw. Saw no message about a 150THB fee (whew) and went off my merry way. No Aeon employee asked me to take my hat off.
Score: Citibank (douche bag) – 1; Warren – 0