Poor Citigroup. The company still hasn’t been able to come up with a plan to pay back its bailout money to the U.S. government. Luckily, I believe the answer to the firm’s woes may lie in the fine print of my latest Citi Mastercard statement that arrived in the mail the other day.
Beginning the second page, which hawks Citi’s Online Bill Pay and Retail Purchase Protection Plan among other things, is the following strangely incongruous paragraph:
Receive $10 OFF Your First 20Lb Gift Box of Florida Citrus! Navels, Grapefruit or Mixed. Reg: $36.95. Intro Price: $26.95 Plus S&H. Ends 01/15. To order, call 1-866-743-6277 and ask for dept 07x. Or log on to WWW.ENJOYCITRUS.COM and enter dept. 07x. An offer from Al’s Family Farms (not a Citi (R) company).
I can only imagine how this ended up in my credit card statement.
(The telephone rings at the desk of a corner penthouse office on Wall Street. The man sitting behind the desk, the CEO of a bank deemed “too big to fail,” lifts the receiver.)
“Vikram Pandit here.”
“Umm . . . yeah. This here’s Al. [pause.] Al from Al’s Family Farms down here in Flor-ee-da. I got a problem maybe you folks up yonder could help me out with.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t think —”
“I can pay ya.”
“I’m all ears, sir. What’s your proposition?”
“Well, the growing season’s been better than we expected and, uh, we got us too many damn grapefruits now.”
“We gotta figure out howta get rid of ‘em before the gators get ‘em. Vitamin C’s like Red Bull with vodka to them scaly varmints. Then, next thing ya know, the flamingos get into ‘em too, and all hell breaks loose. Last thing you ever want is a bunch a gators and a bunch a flamingos all hopped up on C havin’ a dance off to see who got served. Ya see what I’m sayin’?”
“We put signs out on the road runnin’ by our place sayin’ we got grapefruits cheap, but ain’t nobody never drives though Okaloacoochee Slough. Damn shame, really.”
“So, we need to get the word out to more folks. That’s where you come in.”
“What exactly do you want us to do?”
“Well, way I see it is you send out a whole bunch a them bill thingies to millions o’ folks with your credit cards every month.”
“Yes, we do.”
“How about puttin’ somethin’ in ‘em sayin’ we got all this here fruit you can get real cheap. Say it’s like a special offer for your valued customers or some sorta crap like that.”
“And what do we get out of this?”
“Thirty percent of the profits.”
“Sir, you have a deal!”
“Hey — Ain’t’cha supposed to have a secretary or something?”
“No, we had to lay all of them off so a few of us could keep getting bonuses. I double as a janitor over the night shift now, too.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Citibank got into the bulk fruit basket racket to repay its TARP money.