American Express Hates Their Customers
This is an addenda to my recent rant on American Express "Leave Home Without It" article. I just got my statement with a "Notice of Changes to Your Account". If you have an American Express Card, you may be interested in the ways that company gets to unilaterally change their terms and increase your costs and reduce your options as their customer.
My favorite highlights of their revised terms include replacing a statement in their agreement with the new sentence; "We [American Express] reserve the right to deny any request for authorization for a Charge, even if your Account is current and not in default." So, they can decline the cost of a plane ride home, even if you are current and not in default. Imagine taking a client out for dinner and having your charge declined. Even if you have a back up card, the embarrassing circumstances may not be worth the trouble of using your American Express in the first place. Of course, your client is likely in the same boat if they have an American Express Card. You cannot rely on your American Express card for anything. By the way, the revised card member agreement makes no mention of a pro rata refund of the cost of your membership if they decline to authorize charging privileges even if your account is current and not in default. So, even if you do what is required (pay your bill on time, etc.), they do not have do perform the service they charge you to do.
The interest charge calculation has been revised to provide American Express with DAILY COMPOUNDING on your outstanding balance. My favorite part of the revised finance charge calculation description is that American Express reserves the right to round your finance charge "in any way that is convenient to us." Nothing about what is right or fair or usual practice. So, it would appear that rounding for $0.000000000001 can be rounded upward to the next cent. I wonder if it is convenient to American Express to round your average daily balance up to the next penny, or dollar, each day to compute your new finance charge for that day, which is compounded. It may even be convenient for American Express to round up to the next $100 on your statement each month. Who knows?
Finally, for this blog, is the revision that American Express changes the way they treat card members who are authorized users of company cards. I am not an attorney, but the way I read the revised agreement, American Express can sue you for charges on your corporate card, even of the charges are due from your company. They do not have to sue your company, that is your problem. So, if your boss tells you to entertain a client and you take them out to dinner, you are responsible for the cost. Say you succeed in paying for the dinner with your American Express card, because they authorize the charge (we know they are not required to do so) and your company does not reimburse you. The charge is still your responsibility and American Express need not be bothered with your quibble over the bill with your employer. By the way, there is also a reminder in the revised terms that the card may only be used for business charges, not personal charges. So, if your company is not reliably reimbursing your business charges on your American Express account, you are still liable.
In conclusion, American Express gets to change their agreement to do whatever they want. Card members can put up with it and see what happens each time they attempt to use their card. When American Express says "membership has its privileges," they did not say to whom. If you need to use your American Express card, you might want to contact their "customer service" to make arrangements for anticipated expenditures. They may require that you pay in advance (loan them money).
I have realized that most American corporations treat their customers with contempt. Their influence with our policy and law makers allow them to write the rules and laws that allow them to exact their rcontrol over consumers. It is becoming apparent to me that companies have an extraordinary advantage in every transaction. This is allowed because most of us have some expectation of fair dealing from companies. But look closer. The most effective method to resolve a dispute with a company is to shame them with publicity, not to rely on what is fair or just. What happens when they just don't care about their public image to appear fair? Consider disputes with any large corporation including airlines, mortgages, credit cards, credit reporting, utility bills, insurance companies, and so forth. Their job is to get your money and keep it. There is no obligation to fair dealing.
San Diego, CA
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