All we know so far is that we finally got someone to lift the block on the account, but that the best she could promise is another review of the situation today.
As an interesting counter-anecdote, I recently opened a business account with TCF bank. We definitely didn't have our website up (not sure we'd even registered a domain name at that point). TCF didn't seem to have any interest in our web site, they just wanted our federally issued EIN and a copy of our business registration with the state (in our case, Articles of Organization for an LLC.). IMHO, those seem like sensible documents for them to request. A website? Not so much.
Perhaps there is a secret thrill in being a banker who may one day catch a Patriot Act violator, or even a $200 bonus?
Though, it's still mind boggling how the leap could be made from, you know, mentioning gay folks to ... I don't even know ... treating it as porn? The blog is totally tame.
The only thing I can think maybe happened is that they hit the home page, and then falsely referred to it as "the blog". The wording on the home page is sparse and ambiguous enough that it could be misconstrued (especially if we're already talking about someone who fears teh gays) as being a hook-up site.
That said, I hope Jason and crew ride this one for all it's worth; it's like the perfect storm for generating buzz pre-launch. :-)
Which type of an account, checking/savings/loan/? Were they closing it, closing a card, freezing it?
A bank manager/supervisor should be bending over backwards to rectify the situation if one of their employees has been stupid enough to close an account over a personal moral issue. As we all probably know, a bank can terminate an account at any time for any reason - except as laws (such as anti-discrimination and the various banking regulations) otherwise dictate.
The bank must first explain whether the closure is, in their view, lawful and complying with their own regulations. If they maintain this is the case, they must explain to you the criteria for "objectionable content" and why presence of such a non-banking-related issue is considered grounds for termination, and why it is not discriminatory (e.g. if the issue is something like a non-profit account for a for-profit company.)
If they acknowledge it was an error, YMMV but I personally would like to be briefed on how they address the issue, both with the employee in question and ensuring something similar does not occur in the future; preferrably by a senior VP. It is that severe.
All of this makes a lot of operational sense -- missing a legitimate compliance violation costs the firm more than cleaning up after the occasional false positive, as long as those false positives stay occasional. But the downside is that one stupid decision by one stupid employee in the compliance office can take some serious effort to unravel. The legit complaints have to bubble up through all the deadbeat dads bitching about having their child support payments garnished...
My guess (and hope!) is that senior folks at Citi come down on these individuals like a ten ton hammer and apologize profusely to you guys. G'luck!
There's a lot that post didn't say. Was the block just a temporary hold? What was the source of the funds? Was it a merchant account? If so the bank may have been justified in holding deposits longer if there had been more chargebacks than anticipated or even if the nature of the business indicated a likelihood of greater chargebacks.
If the reason Citi gave, as quoted by the Fabulis founder, was because of objectionable content in a blog might that just indicate the bank had rightly or wrongly reclassified the type of business based on blog contents?
Existing laws, threat of lawsuit and just plain bad PR means this is something a bank would be very unlikely to do.
It is definitely not beyond the realm of possibility that some "morally enraged" or otherwise vindictive person might have done so. But they usually have some cover story in those cases, too.
They might certainly have some loophole, but they must be able to explain it.
Citibank sincerely apologizes to Mr. Goldberg for this misunderstanding. This situation had nothing to do with the content of his web site and any comments by our staff to the contrary were incorrect; we are reviewing what happened. This was a technical issue about missing documentation that is required for new business accounts. Once we resolved the situation, we unblocked the account immediately. Mr. Goldberg is a valued customer and we appreciate his business. Also, Citi is strongly committed to diversity, including support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, and other organizations promoting diversity. In fact, this week Citi has announced the financing for the True Colors Residence, a housing facility for homeless GLBT youth in New York City.
If AdultFriendFinder can exist and take credit cards, then there must not be any [Edit: at least sex-related] business "content"-based laws which allow freezing assets.
Epic Hacker News Fail.
I agree with your reaction against internet mobs and think it's ridiculous to attack a company for the act of an individual manager... Citi should get a chance to fix this.
But I think your hatred of internet mobs is clouding your judgment a bit... Because you're wrong on this front.
Which is linked to from the post.