Citibank's goal at this point is not the money. They are interested in teaching you a lesson. First off, most original creditors do not like their arbitration clauses being used against them so they do take arbitration all the way, regardless of cost, as a way to show that if you try arbitration, you will pay anyways if you owe the money. A bad case in court is a bad case in arbitration. The second thing is that you emailed everyone at Citbank, from the CEO to the janitor cleaning the local branch and based on the way you talk about Citibank in this forum, I doubt they were the nice and direct emails. Everyone at Citibank knows your name and you are not anonymous anymore, especially to the legal team. More of a reason that they want to teach you a lesson on what happens when you mess with Citibank.
You are right that it never should have gotten this far. Had you simply got the account current on payments, filed a contest on the trade line with the credit reporting agency, and once verified, filed an arbitration claim against Citibank for false representation and requesting a refund of the late fee and trade line fixing; I bet Citibank would have settled that with you because they would have had no leverage. Instead, you threw a hissy fit, stopped paying your bill, and emailed anyone ever connected to Citibank and now here we sit. You made the issue worse just as much as they did.
That said, I doubt you are going to get paid. The Rosenthal Act generally follows the FDCPA so it is one payment for all claims so the max you would get for that is whatever the max payout is for the Rosenthal Act. I have heard both $500 and $1000. Also, there could possibly some damages for the false representation although I cannot compute them. Your damages however do not come up to the $6500 that you rightfully owe Citibank. As for Citibank, because what I mentioned above, they are going scorched earth at this point. You will therefore have to come up with a reasonable settlement where you are paying something. How much is something I cannot say but I would suggest starting at 25% of the $6500 you owe and see what they have to say. I doubt you have a frivolous claim but you did give Citibank a boost of getting over that bar with your hissy fit so tread carefully to not give them anything else.
The pandemic period caused some debt buyers to realize that their historical court procedures were adaptable to zoom style arbitration hearings at comparable cost. Their custodian and attorney could connect through the same zoom session even though they were each in physically different locations, not much unlike a court trial where the custodian might testify by phone. The elimination of all the travel for an in person hearing and the reduction of time spent on any one arbitration hearing greatly improved the economics of arbitration.
Much of the $3900 they paid is a retainer, some of which might be refundable if not used.
Even though normal non-pandemic procedures are starting to resume, zoom as a tool in arbitration might be here to stay. If your contract provides for an in person hearing, you might not want to acquiesce to any type of virtual hearing instead. Unfortunately, "in person" might be interpreted by the arbitrator to include a virtual hearing. So, if you lose the argument for an actual in-the-flesh in person hearing, there might not be much you can do about it. Unless you argue that you don't have a computer, phone, or any internet connection.
In January 2020, the governor of NJ signed an amendment to the NJRUAA regulating arbitration forums and pre-dispute consumer arbitrations. The language is mostly the same as California's language, in that fee reallocation is not permitted. But since this change is to the NJRUAA, its effect at regulation of an arbitration done under the FAA has not been tested.
New Rules Coming for Consumer Arbitration in New Jersey
N.J. Stat. § 2A:23B-35
@kittycatAn arbitrator has not been selected yet. It is still in the hands of the case manager. Yesterday was the cutoff for Citi to pay their fee. I don't know if they paid it or not. The case manager said they would not give any extensions on that. Yesterday I submitted an answer to their counterclaim, a response to their objection to my motion to strike, and an amended complaint. So at this point the opposing attorney knows I have some legitimate claims, and hopefully knows that he won't be recovering fees. I was sent the settlement code of conduct by AAA yesterday. They mentioned the selection of arbitrator would come soon. It's a dumb fight for Citibank over $6500. They will pay way more than that in fees. But my experience with Citibank has shown me that they are a poorly run company with incompetent employees. It should have never come this far. All they had to do was remove the false credit reporting and I would have paid. That costs nothing to Citibank.
I'm not sure what to offer them in settlement. Never been through this. Do I come out confident and ask them to pay me?