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Sears/Citi - HELP!?...backdoor number or...?

Established Member

Sears/Citi - HELP!?...backdoor number or...?

Hi folks. Not new to reading these boards (been doing so on/off since JAN), but new to posting, so excuse any errors, at least for nowLike so many others have already said, the information available here is invaluable. Which brings me to why I'm making this particular post.


Okay, my husband currently has a TU fico of 782 and an EQ fico of 800. He has a long history of credit, but for now has Amex Blue and Sears/Citi. His current individual card and total utilization runs about 7-8%. He's had his "excellent" status for years.


Still, by late fall of last year, on a credit limit of 11, 500 for the Sears/Citi, my husband had a balance of just over 3,000 which he had begun to pay down just because that balance was starting to leave us feel uncomfortable.


Lo and behold right after he made his next payment Sears/Citi cut his limit by about 2,000When he called to ask why, the reply was he wasn't using the card as intended - this after I don't know how long a card membership - but it's longggggBy the way, we don't live in one of the areas suffering major mortgage and home selling/buying fallout.


Well, we grimaced about this CL cut, but shrugged our shoulders and just moved on. Since then we used he card sparingly just to make sure it stays open, but kept paying it down. After the first of the year, my husband got his first rake hike from a very low APR (can't remember exactly, old statements not in front of me), to 16%+. Next call to Sears/Citi responded with "we're doing it to everyone, now, because of the times." In April, DH got hit again - no change in spending/pattern/payment but now with a balance of 1,600 down from the previous 3,000 - and this time they hiked him to 22.24%.


DH is one of those really gentle souls. Doesn't mean he doesn't get mad, just that he "picks his fights" very carefully. And with this being his last year of work before hopefully retiring and then all the garbage we are all dealing with in increasing amounts, he's just finally really depressed about this. Having called, now, around four times to try and get the rate lowered (he didn't even ask to have his orig balance back) - and never getting past the typical CSR - he's ready to give up trying.


Anyway, we are thinking of making a half payment on the 1,400 balance this month, then the rest next month, or even just paying it off while keeping the bugger open.


Still...I just think there must be something we can do about the rate. Or am I being just one of those cockeyed optimists? BTW neither of us wants to initiate a new credit card, even for transfers, because we're thinking of house hunting in the late fall. 


Sorry for all the detail - I can be that way...often, heh. But to get to the final point of this post, while I do see the backdoor numbers posted for Citi for various thingswould any of those get us to a credit analyst for specifically the Sears/Citi MC?


IS there a definite backdoor number for such Sears/Citi matters? If anyone has it and could share, I would be so grateful. If not, when calling and talking to a CSR, could one ask either for the Credit Department's number or to be transferred to that department?


Okay, I'm done, finally. I thank all readers of this post for their time and any help they can give.

Message 1 of 7
Moderator Emerita

Re: Sears/Citi - HELP!?...backdoor number or...?

I had some adventures with my Sears MC back in the day, and I used the number on my card.

I was able a few times to escalate beyond the front-line CSR's, probably because my problems were so bizarre that they needed to call in the big guns. Didn't really help, though.

I keep getting the feeling that the Sears cards somehow stand separately in Citi-land. For instance, I signed up with out of curiosity, and when I was loading up my CC's, I found that the Sears cards were a separate category from all the other Citi cards.

They do have an online feedback where you can ask for help, but treat it gingerly. I used it to ask for GW and wound up having them report that I was disputing my account. This has now been on my reports for more than a year and a half. I'm pretty sure that they use word recognition software to generate an automatic response.
* Credit is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. * Who's the boss --you or your credit?
FICO's: EQ 781 - TU 793 - EX 779 (from PSECU) - Done credit hunting; having fun with credit gardening. - EQ 590 on 5/14/2007
Message 2 of 7
Established Member

Re: Sears/Citi - HELP!?...backdoor number or...?

Thanks so much for your reply, hauling. Yeah, we did end up calling the number on his card, again. And again it was a no go. The CSR was actually as polite as could be, but the supervisor we were transferred to turned out to be the jerk of jerks. (Can I say that, here?)


After that runaround, I actually did call one of Citi's backdoor numbers from the forums, and at least got another number to call, which we did. Long story short, however, Sears absolutely doesn't negotiate the interest rate. Funny enough, though, they actually offered DH a CLI. Stuff like this makes me want to hit my head against the wall.


He declined. After that I signed him up for online access to that account, and we promptly paid the account off in full.


As I wrote, earlier, we will keep it open for paltry things, to be used only occasionally, then PIF.


DH hasn't decided if he wants another card, yet. But the more I think about all hoops we're all being put through, just now, for all kinds of credit, the more I'm inclined to tell him it's okay by me. At this point, if an LO for any mortgage we might apply for told us to get rid of half the (few) cards we have, just to qualify, or one or more cards was too new, I dunno...


I think I'd be likely to say, "Look bud (or madam), there's a whole lotta houses not goin' nowhere, and there's gonna be more of 'em. We want to BUY one of those poor things, so it will have human companions. Now as you can see we have income to do that plus history plus not so shabby scores. want us to take one of those babies off your hands...or not? Cuz we think we've proved ourselves by now, and the one thing we're not gonna be doin' is to dance on the head of a pin, just to get a home that in itself might betray us and, worse, lose a couple more tens of thousands in value in the year after we buy it. And them's OUR terms!"




Seriously, I'm pretty sure DH would support me, fully, if I pulled one of those. It's all just getting to be aburd, don't you think? I mean, what if Americans were more the way they used to be, ready to fight for what's right. if not just plain decent? Just imagine, for instance, all of us agreeing on a set date, on which not one us would make one single purchase. Not one. Do you think the powers-that-be might sit up and take notice? I wonder.


Back to the current reality, I have one question. I know that GW means good will, but what does that entail between a consumer and CCC? I've never come across that, before.


Thanks, again, for your reply. I'll be have more questions to post, over time.

Message 3 of 7
Senior Contributor

Re: Sears/Citi - HELP!?...backdoor number or...?

Interest rates are used by lenders as a method to "call in" balances.  You have just demonstrated the effectiveness of such tactics.  They raised the APR, you paid.  They raised it again, you paid it off.  You now plan to use it but PIF.  The card issuer earns interest on the balance, and if you are willing to pay high interest, they are willing to extend the balance carry.  But they also earn a transaction discount from the merchant.  So in your case, they have taken the balance off the table and will still earn transaction discount fees from Sears on each of the "paltry" purchases you make to keep it open whil PIF.


So, in these days of lender woes, interest really is due to their overall portfolio, profits and losses and based upon their willingness to lend.  When the want to tighten the credit up and pull money back in, they raise the rates.  When they have lots of money they want to put on the market, they lower the rates.  I think that rates are showing us the fear lenders have in "unsecured" revolving credit and are pricing it according to their fears and recourse.  As unemployment approaches 10%, housing still unrecovered and the general financial status of the big picture, many lenders don't want to lend unless the profit is high and risk low.  In your case, great, long established credit means lower risk, and with rate hike they hope to profit.


This, of course, is separate from the individual account review in which if there are derogatory account issues, they may raise the rates under "default" though this is not relevant to your case.


I opened a Rooms to Go account recently because the offer was "No Interest till 2013."  So, it didn't make sense to merely pay cash on the $5000.  Obviously GEMB is getting paid the equivalent of interest by the merchant who is driving sales by offering "interest free" to the consumer by "paying the interest" on the back end to the backing bank, meaning they are paying a hefty discount to GEMB.  But otherwise, I believe the interest rate is over 20% if I used the card in a manner that did not qualify for this rate special.

Message Edited by txjohn on 07-01-2009 01:39 AM

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Message 4 of 7
Regular Contributor

Re: Sears/Citi - HELP!?...backdoor number or...?



Citi announced today (7/1) that they were raising interest rates on 15 million card holders.


Message 5 of 7
Established Member

Re: Sears/Citi - HELP!?...backdoor number or...?

...But they also earn a transaction discount from the merchant.  So in your case, they have taken the balance off the table and will still earn transaction discount fees from Sears on each of the "paltry" purchases you make to keep it open whil PIF.


...I think that rates are showing us the fear lenders have in "unsecured" revolving credit and are pricing it according to their fears and recourse.  As unemployment approaches 10%, housing still unrecovered and the general financial status of the big picture, many lenders don't want to lend unless the profit is high and risk low.  In your case, great, long established credit means lower risk, and with rate hike they hope to profit.


It's okay with us that they will still earn the trans discount fees. The purchases will be only to keep the card open and purchase amounts *will* be paltry. We've thought long about all that's going on and how it does or might yet affect us. It's possible they'll close the account because of so little usage - just when we want to go mortgage shopping, for instance. His Amex and my cards are open for future, well...who knows what?  


But we've also taken a few deep breaths and reminded ourselves of all that we've so far been through in life, individually and as a team. Long term stuff, some of it, that will kill the psyche if you let it, not to mention strain health to the limit. Anyway, it's that kind of remembering that pretty much has led us to decide to not be afraid for our "financial future." If all of our cards get terrible rate hikes, if all our CLs drop down to bare minimums or, worse, the cards get closed, if we don't get our hoped for reasonable mortgage, if our pensions disappear...we'll still be here. A lot poorer to be sure, scratching our heads while deciding what to do next. But we'll be here, just like before. We just refuse to give in to the fear they'd like us all to feel and their increasingly outrageous demands.


Yes, you're right about the rates being tied into their fear. And they do have a right to have their own fear. After all, starting with the mid-nineties too many of us came to believe we really could have our cake and eat it, too. That we, also, could live lives almost like celebrities. Plus, too many who'd previously had problems paying the piper took advantage of the freely available credit of the times. But good or poor credit risk, none of us asked for the glut of corporate greed which led to wage cuts, benefit cuts, union busting and ultimately to millions out of work, and later millions of foreclosures.


I can't begin to debate, with intelligence, the pros/cons of all the bailouts we as citizens have been forced to swallow for the sake of preventing a "system collapse." But I don't need a master's degree in business to know that as long as millions of people remain unemployed and can't get work that pays comparably to what they earlier earned, or worry for the stability of their current jobs, as long as mortgage rates keep rising, as long as CCCs will have freedom to rate jack (and the new laws won't stop them) and create new fees - amidst *all of this* - the games they are playing on us WILL come back to haunt them. And *their* jobs and benefits, and *their* mortgages, and *their* ability to pay their pipers. The wheel of life keeps turning, as I see it. If you're on the bottom of the ferris wheel you're bound at some point to go up. If you're sitting at the top, be prepared to eventually take a fall. And won't they deserve all that comes when it does.


Sorry for the meandering and dime's worth of philosophizing.


As for getting your Rooms To Go account, sounds good to me. Smiley Wink  Furniture shopping is one of my favorite pastimes.


Thanks, txjohn, for an informative and thought inducing post.


Message 6 of 7
Established Contributor

Re: Sears/Citi - HELP!?...backdoor number or...?

There's a department that might be able to help.

Credit Department / Adverse Action Department
The hours are Mon-Sat 07am-10pm MST and Sun 08am-7pm MST

If the phone number is not current anymore, then I'm sure you would be able to call customer service and ask to be transferred.

And, as you said, the interest rate for the Sears Mastercard is "non negotiable". It's been that way for as long as I've had the card. As far as I know, that policy is not disclosed in writing anywhere. That's something that you have to find out the hard way by accident.

The other catch to this card is that they've had two different grace periods .. if you regularly pay in full, then you get one grace period. But when you start carrying a balance, the length of your grace period changes (until you start paying in full again at which point you revert back to the previous grace period). This different grace period in turn ends up affecting your due date -- mine has fluctuated by as much as ten days. In my opinion, this is a deliberate attempt to get customers to incur late payments and late fees.
Message 7 of 7