Last Thursday's fair-lending protests at Citigroup offices were hardly the first against a megabank, but they may have been the first in which a company was taken to task for failing to be competitive with itself.

The protestors besieged the offices of several subprime-mortgage companies owned by or affiliated with Citigroup Inc., contrasting their high interest rates with those offered at the flagship Citibank. With Halloween a few days away, some were dressed as vampires and sharks. They accused the lenders of discrimination and predatory lending to minority and low-income consumers, and demanded a meeting with Citigroup's top executives, Sanford Weill, John Reed, and Robert Rubin.

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