‹ Go Back

Bug Off, Citi.



I’ve been absent, but I’m fine. I’ve just been thinking. The largest credit card issuer in the world will be sorry.


We all need space–or at least I do. But every day, that space is shrinking.

One ground of invasion is emails; and Citi, which provides me with a credit card, is really irritating me. I don’t think they like me. They’re not making enough money off of me in terms of interest and the annual fee. They want to stop paying a whopping 55 cents a month to mail me a bill.

They send me multiple emails each week: “You’re digitally savvy. Why are you getting paper statements? Go Paperless now.”

Excuse me. “Paperless” should not be capitalized. And I don’t take orders. You’re there to serve me, right? No? I thought not.


You see, Citi, I know what your credit card wing is doing, has been doing from the start. You designed the card to entice us to buy things we can’t pay for right away or at the end of the month or even months from now. Wealth-enchanted economists collaborated by promoting economic growth as a kind of religion we are to support with spending deposited in a daily offering plate. And merchants and service people support it, of course, as a way to get more customers and to raise prices to stay in the running. We all suffer from the perceived need to go along to get along.

And it’s worked for all credit card issuers. I checked. Experian, the credit-reporting company, estimates that Americans from age 35 to 65 have accumulated more than $7,000 in credit card debt per person. Amazing, eh? Less than half of us pay our cards in full each month. In an article in The Street, I learned about how a $75 pair of shoes could end up costing $350 a few months later. A class on this kind of thing in high school could make math very interesting.

But the point is, we’re all just cruising along with this service, more than half of us living beyond our means and very vulnerable to some form of economic disruption. Who has time to even think about this?

So why am I being difficult?


I think it’s partly because I’m so old, but my five senses are still working very well. My hands and fingers are sensitive to the touch of things other than the keyboard. I love the feel of paper, as in newspapers, books, typing paper, journal paper, and mail, as in envelopes. And with regard to the latter, I really like it that I don’t need a password to open the flap of my credit card bill.

And I got my Citi card years ago, long before tech advances would turn hacking into an ambient fear. How was I to know back then that I needed to start working on a spreadsheet for all the passwords I would ultimately need? How was I to know that my password would have to be changed periodically and that this would lead into a quagmire of requirements to verify my identity? I’m  sorry, but I just don’t remember what I said my favorite flower was back in 1987 or whatever. And I don’t know why you can’t just call me with a verification code. Don’t you understand how welcome the sound of a human voice is?


I’m not thinking of preserving jobs only for humans who might replace bullets on web sites. I’m thinking of the people who work at the Post Office who deliver the mail. Citi is inadvertently moving to put them out of business. My stamps matter. My stamps may help ensure that the pensions they’ve been promised will actually endure. And think of all the other people, like greeting card artists, whose income depends on the survival of mail.

I looked up Citi’s annual report, and its net revenues in 2018 were $70.8 billion. There was no breakdown of credit card profits; however, as I said earlier, it is the largest issuer in the world with 142 million accounts. It can afford to send me mail once a month, which would cost only $6.60 per year. And besides, this August, the Business Roundtable–made up of around 200 chief executives, including Michael Corbet, the CEO of Citi–issued a statement that suggested an impending softening of focus in corporate America. The statement implied that corporate chiefs would be deviating from their long-standing assertion that they exist principally to serve their shareholders. They have pledged to look afield a bit–including to sustaining postal workers.

Not really. But maybe they’ll think of something nice.

Tiger Butterfly Down

Nevertheless, the tech assault on quality of life in America is coming up for attention. For me, it is getting to be too much. I’m beginning to feel like roadkill run over by the wheels of progress. I’ve thought about moving into the woods, but they’re all burning up.

Bottom line, I’ll pay my bill online so Citi can’t charge me for claimed (whom can you trust?) late delivery by the US Postal Service, but that’s it. Surviving human attributes demand that we draw the line somewhere. Bug off, Citi.

9 Responses to “Bug Off, Citi.”

  1. Maggie

    Love, Love, Love your blog!!! Your sense of humor passed to us by your delightful writing is unbeatable…..and Ellen, I agree with you wholeheartedly. thank you for giving some much needed chuckles and leaving a smile on my face. Write On, my Talented Friend!

  2. Lynn

    All of the vendors who send me paper bills want me to go paperless to save them money but they are not offering me a benefit in return. When they offer me something I might consider it.

  3. Jan Harris

    Chin up, Ellen! It is the invasion that is the problem…by email, by US Mail, by phone. We get probably 30 unsolicited emails a day and most days we get at least two advertisements in the US Mail. That doesn’t even count the ten or more robo-calls each day. There is no way to escape the invasion. Corporations have the upper hand. My time has become more precious so I use on line bill pay. I don’t have to take the time to sit down and write the check. While the rights of corporations expand, the rights of consumers have become obsolete.

  4. Les

    Dear Ellen, we ARE old. . . . .er. So I’m with you, I find myself reminiscing the good ol’ days. We get emails reminding of of our more idyllic times more and more often. But paper is my enemy. It is just so easy to file everything in computer folders. I can even search for something when I forget which folder i filed it in. AND no annual shredding! saves energy — not just mine personal energy or my shredder’s consumption, but electricity in paper milling. Wait, reducing paper not only saves trees, it reduces air pollution. Yep. Ever been to Duluth? The paper mill emits ghastly gasses and stinks to high heaven for miles and miles. Likewise Champion Paper in Houston. Pugh!!!
    And about costing USPS jobs: This reader is an old computer seller-installer. So many were concerned that “the computer will eliminate jobs”. That turned out to be a mythical fear. More jobs were created. Today we can’t live without computers. As you mentioned even your fingers connect you. But wait! in a couple years, you won’t need to type at all. iPhone’s Siri is a great window to that imminent reality.
    So dear friend, Ellen, we have to buck up and embrace the times in which we live.

    • Les

      O Crap! Talk about getting old. When will I ehhh-ver learn to proof before hitting “Submit”? . .. . . . . . .

      Welcome to the Hilton Hawaiian, we “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

  5. Tom Webb

    Ellen. You.are.not.old! We are now vintage. Hope you are settled into your new home.

    Stay feisty. Tom ‘Ty’ Webb

  6. Carolyn Skloven-Gill

    Dear Celery Ellen,
    Yes, the human voice and the feel of a well-bound hard-back book is becoming a thing of the past. Happily, for every one of my many birthdays since my marriage, my sister-in-Law
    has been sending me lovely and sometimes hysterically sarcastic birthday cards. And I have been reciprocal in kind.

    But, and there is always a but, less paper means more living trees! I would suggest that , for every on-line bill that we are strongly encourage to sign up for that a tree be planted per signee somewhere on the planet! Environmentalists believe now that the simple act of planting an infinite number of trees might save our planet from annihilation .
    So, let’s “plant” that idea in the heads of billionaire CEO’s who are obviously environmental-friendly . You plant a hundred trees for my on-line bill pay. A win-win plan?

    • Les

      Carolyn, Your comment is logical and realistic. . . . . . .well, except for one point:
      As an old Mathematician, I must object to “Planting an infinite number of trees might save our planet from annihilation”. This statement implies our planet is guaranteed annihilation. It is impossible to plant an infinite number of anything. Infinite is way big!!! Plant all trees possible and you still need more to be an infinite number.