I have had an AmEx Starwood card for several years, with a limit of $50K and a balance that went between $40 and $50K each month (average spend about $7K per month, mostly travel related). Prior to taking a vacation trip, I paid down the AmEx by $25K since I knew I had a lot of expenses coming and I didn't want to worry about the limit. A week later, as I'm sitting in Chicago on my way to London, I'm making some travel arrangements for May on my laptop and a ticket gets declined.
Turns out AmEx reduced my limit from $50K to $28K, knocking my available credit from $23K to $563. No notice, on a Friday night at 9 pm before Easter weekend, week before taxes are due. Called customer "service", nothing they can do. I have a lot of debt, yada, yada. I have a perfect payment history, with them and everyone else, and while I have a lot of debt I have no more debt than I did 1, 2 or 3 years ago when they gave me the limit in the first place. Note, I had just paid the balance down from $48K to $24K, not sure how that makes me seem like a high risk.
So, 45 minutes to board the flight to London, trying to figure out whether I can afford to go since I don't have another card in my wallet with enough available credit to deal with things. I won't go into *all* the reasons why this is lame, but here are some: (1) creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, lower limits on people and their credit scores go down so they must be "bad risks"; (2) timing has the potential to royally screw people, you could be traveling, you could be about to pay your taxes, all sorts of things, but now you're stuck; (3) creates a frozen credit market. I'm afraid to pay down the balance more to use the card, because I might do so and have the funds evaporate.
In this state, why use credit cards at all, if you can't rely on payments to be available the next day? You might as well just use cash for everything. I was going to keep the account open and work around the limit, but the customer service person I called from London was so irritating I just closed the account. Had to change maybe 20 things that automatically charge it, and have my office FedEx me a credit card from my desk drawer. Spent the first two days of my vacation dealing with this crap, but now I am AmEx-free and when I get back my company will be as well.
AmEx is pure evil, treats their customers with complete contempt, and if there is any justice will go down in flames as people abandon them in droves. The only reason to deal with a financial company is because you trust them, once you lose trust that they will act rationally, ethically or even just not be evil, you can't and shouldn't do business with them. They were, however, "sorry for the inconvenience" although their capricious and arbitrary decision was the only reason that the inconvenience existed in the first place.
American Express USED TO BE A GREAT COMPANY. Lately - I've had to report them to the FTC and am about to report them to other banking and credit agencies as well. Why? For several months, they have been advertising (with multiple fliers in the mail, at least two times monthly) - suggesting I accept an offer (due my great credit history and scores) to accept terms to carry-over monthly balances over $100).
After much disregard, I finally accepted, after agreeing to open a secondary account with AMEX in light of the 'new' FICO scoring system this year. (The second card was not mandatory, it was for purposes of 'spreading' out available credit to debt for several types of business charges as required with my profession and privately-owned business.)
Lo and behold - within 2 months of owning the secondary card - the 'offer' they gave me was rejected with a simple letter stating I was a credit risk because there were too many inquiries on my credit report (only 3 in 6 months - (2) of which was by American Express for the second card, and to see if I still 'qualified' under their CreditSecure program, which I also happened to accept at the beginning of the year).
Not only that, they had already reduced my 'no preset limit' option internally with a $20K limit that I had to coax a nicer representative into disclosing. (They were not supposed to disclose the amount to me. Previously, I was truly not under a set limit.)
Worse yet - when the second payment for the second card came due - I sent payments for both accounts to the same bill payment receivables address in ONE envelope. There is NO stipulation by AMEX under any circumstances - that we cannot send payments in one envelope. They also state they support green and other environmental programs - so I assumed saving an envelope and stamp would be fine.
The following week, while checking my balances - I noticed the second card bill was 'unpaid' and almost overdue. They were NOT going to notify me until it was later. I immediately called to find out what happened - as they had already cashed the check for the other account payment. (Both were 'overpayments' to cover new charges as well.) I was informed the check was destroyed because it was in with another check in one envelope. I was told if I did not pay again, immediately - (my responsibility, not theirs, of course) - I would be penalized. So they suggest electronic payment.
I am with a credit union for 'real' banking - so I requested AMEX notify me if the routing transaction did not go through correctly on the first try. An entire business week later - I find out AMEX has suspended all of my cards, and I am about to be penalized for their ineptitude - because they did not notify me about the payment not going through. They claim it was because they found out after hours on the Friday night. However - they have 24/7 customer service. Instead of alerting me, per request - they put a 'stop transaction' motion on all my AMEX cards. (Even though they still have $50 additional overpayment on the primary card.)
They also erased the fact that they lost the original payment on the second card from my records. (Since they claim they don't have proof.) I worked hard to have an extremely high credit score. NOW - AMEX is about to destroy it because I trusted them. This complaint will be posted on every possible consumer notice and federal trade notice site I can locate, as I am not willing to be a casualty in the credit scams and fall outs that obviously has affected AMEX more than they are willing to admit. AMEX also reported to the media and the federal and stock boards they were tightening up their structure because customers were having trouble paying last month. .
I wonder what the truth is - their faulty mail receiving program and lack of warnings and disclosure regarding such, or their refusal to work with customers in a fair and honorable manner??? FYI - The listed email may or may not work for the current listed CEO of the company. His salary is publicly reported as $7.36MIL, with multiple bonuses. The other corporate managers who manage all of AMEX decisions are also listed, along with their salaries at: see: http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=AXP.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- All, if you have an American Express card read this with a personal interest. I had been the recipient of a huge rip-off by them. After 10 or so years of an American Express account, in October, or thereabout, we got a letter from American Express that my previously very high limit was being reduced to around $1200. We have had this account since around 1996 or so and used it for all our monthly purchases. We bought gas, groceries, medicines, etc on the card. We purchased it through Costco in Kennesaw, GA. The reason we got it was due to a 2% bonus on purchases and every year we enjoyed a couple of hundred dollars in returns on that card.
When we got the 'letter' we were shocked. We always paid on time, never carrying over a balance. The monthly amounts were always around $1500 to $2000 as that was our budget and let me tell you, my wife always follows her plan. Well, why did this occur, what was it about because the excuses they had were bull, so, why? Then we had an epiphany. Was it BECAUSE we always paid the account? Maybe they wanted to get the interest we never paid.
Well, it was a thought and worth a question to American Express. So I called and spoke to an agent of American Express and we discussed how the account was valuable to me at the amount I had but not at this new level. The agent I spoke to was at first very nice and put me on hold to check out the account. After a few minutes after placing me on hold, he changed 180 degrees and suggested if I couldn't use the account at the level as adjusted, then I should just close the account. There was nothing that American Express could do about the adjustment. We broke our communication at that point and I thought long and hard about the turn of events.
After discussion with my wife and allowing a couple of days of cool down time I called back again and asked for management instead of just a phone customer service agent. This person was even less helpful than the first, basically being pretty aggressive and telling us we had no recourse. When I told her after all the years I would have to close the account if after ten years of paying early but ALWAYS on-time this was the "new" American Express. Their comment was something like "I think that would be best."
My wife and I just thought that they were cutting those who never carried balances and owed those ridiculous interest rates. What really happened and what transpired over the next several months indicates to me a more sinister picture right up there with the rest of Wall Street. As you know, American Express received $3.389 Billion in bailout on January 9th. In my most humble opinion this just proved my theory of their "cutting their losses". But let's look at what else they're receiving.
In December or January I contacted the American Express Customer Service office and talked to a very helpful agent this time. I had a credit I needed returned and I asked when and how I would get my rebate owed on my Costco. He told me a closed account wouldn't get that rebate and since that new fact wasn't disclosed he would re-open the account and I'd receive $201 in February.
February came and went so I contacted them again. Wow, what a change this time. I was told the account was not reopened. A fact I was never informed of and one that without a letter of notification is in noncompliance with Federal Fair Credit Laws. I was told the rebate was considered a "reward" that if I saw it as earned at the point of each purchase, they considered it to be a reward earned at their convenience and discretion.
That they did not have to disclose their policy of not paying it at the time of the credit limit reduction. That they closed my account, I guess before I had made that second call, though how this occurred and how I was never informed of this is beyond me. That the matter was closed.
I have since sent to their Home Office a Ten-day letter of demand and decided to contact you, too. My fellow hard working American Taxpayers having to bail out these people and then endure further money looses earned but kept by them such as this need to be made known. I hope you print this, look into these companies in more detail and show us, the American Taxpayer that it doesn't just affect Wall Street. They are taking from us on Main Street as well.
MISSOURI -- I'm an Amex cardholder for 20 years, and I can testify to some noticeable slips in what was once a consistent level of gold standard of service. Their crime was stooping to the level of the competition. Our crime was making such lows profitable.
Today I had a big problem of being improperly billed large amounts over a period of time by a cable company that does not provide my cable service nor has ever been authorized to bill me for services. The problem was acerbated by circumstances that made it difficult to go over statements in a timely mannerso some charges were well over the standard 60 days reporting period. I talked to a rep named Gabe/Gib who did a number of things to single-handedly restore my faith in American Express:
1) He related his own personal experience with the cable company to try to gain a better understanding of the possible scenarios without diminishing the legitimacy of my complaint.
2) He was empathetic, not pandering, and related to me from my (fairly odd) comfort zone, not a script. He both trusted himself and WAS TRUSTED to be authentic.
3) He used common sense, not merely a policy book, to ascertain an investigation was required.
4) MOST IMPORTANTLY, he showed shrewd business sense when he pointed out both the POLICY that mandates the loss of some of my 'rights' and then OVERRODE that policy, not because I am a customer, but because I am a CERTAIN customer.
Not a big customer. Not even an interest-paying customer. I'm just a LOYAL customer. As much as it had stooped in the last 10 years, it still has been head and shoulders above the rest as far as I was concerned. The message was intentional and clear: "you've stuck with us through thick and thin, we're going to stick with you now. Investigations cost money and manpower but hey, you're worth it."
And it would be very bad business to believe everyone is. Investigations cost money and manpower and profit margins. It's GOOD BUSINESS to protect those margins. But it's a rarer sort of GOOD BUSINESS to know when the best way to protect them is to put your long-term customers ahead of short term financial gains.
In other words, Amex empowers its reps to make exceptions in certain circumstances to reward customers who don't ditch them the moment a transfer check with a slightly lower interest rate pops up in the mail. And it's SMART. Because if you think it's hard to find a truly customer-driven credit card company, try finding a loyal credit card customer.
If you're not being treated right, get the hell out of there. Don't tolerate liars, cheaters, or thieves: these are huge corporations, not absent-minded apple merchants: if they're making "billing mistakes" or playing games with due dates and interest rates, pay off the card and don't do business with that company again. Ever.
And consumers need to have standards of your own. Don't milk a business for their knowledge and expertise, then buy at the warehouse down the road for a buck fifty cheaper. Don't abandon a company that has always been good to you for free airline tickets to some over-rated tourist trap. And if you DO, don't be surprised when the new company begins milking you as fast as it can for everything it can get away with. Don't be surprised when they have no customer service, no straight-forward websites, no consistent rates, no honest answers, no scruples and especially, no pity. What do you think the planes tickets were filling in for?
I recently found that American Express has a webpage with tips for individuals applying for a credit card. I found this information very much in line with much of the feedback provided on this site, and wanted to share it: "BE SMART ABOUT CREDIT - 10 Tips for Making the Most of Your American Express Card.
Choose the Card that's right for you. Think about the features that are important to you so you don't pay for features you won't use. Consider fees, rewards and interest rates. We offer a choice of products designed to meet specific customer needs, from charge cards with rich rewards, no pre-set spending limits and annual fees, to credit cards with no fees at all.
Take the time to understand your terms and conditions. By signing up for a Card, you agree to adhere to the terms of the account. If you don't, there are penalties. This ensures that customers who adhere to the terms of their account aren't subsidizing those who don't.
Pay your bill on time to avoid late fees and higher interest rates. Paying late can be costly. Note your payment due date. You should also know that American Express will not raise your interest rate or assess fees based on your payment history with other companies.
Make payments electronically or by phone, free of charge. It's fast and avoids the time and expense of mail. Sign Up to Pay Your Bill Online. (Note: You'll be prompted to log in to your account first.)
Pay more than the minimum due to pay off your balance more quickly and reduce interest charges. By paying only the minimum due every month you will add to the amount of interest you pay over time. This means you'll end up paying more for your purchases.
Pay your balance in full each month by the payment due date to take advantage of an interest-free grace period on purchases. Unlike cash or debit cards, using a credit card to make purchases and paying your balance in full each month gives you an interest-free, unsecured loan.
Use free alerts to manage your accounts via e-mail or phone. You can sign up for alerts to let you know your payment due date, that your payment has been received, if there is irregular activity on your account, to provide an update on your balance, and to track spending. Sign Up for Account Alerts (Note: You'll be prompted to log in to your account first.) You can also sign up to receive your statement online as soon as it's issued – free of charge. Sign Up for Online Statements (Note: You'll be prompted to log in to your account first.)
Know your credit limit and don't exceed it to avoid over-limit fees and higher interest rates. (See above tip to sign up for alerts to let you know when you are nearing your credit limit.) Over-limit fees and default-tier interest rates will add to the total amount you end up paying for purchases.
Know the terms of special offers. Balance transfers and introductory offers can come with lower interest rates for a set period of time. Payments you make while taking advantage of low-rate offers will first be applied to balances carrying the lowest rates.
Rest assured that you are never liable for fraudulent charges on your statement. You can check your bill online for additional detail on any charges you don't recognize. Then, simply contact us if you notice any unauthorized charges. Log In to Your Account."
I do have an AMEX card, and use it for almost all of my normal purchases. I have to say I find them to be an extraordinary company to deal with, in all of my dealings. Just wanted to share this with others out there.
First of all, let me tell you a little about the nature of my complaint. In 2005, I received an application for an American Express credit card that I applied for without knowing about their business and the scammers that NCO, their collections agency, are. I was young, and I stupidly accepted their credit card. I applied for an American Express Savings One card, which will deposit 1% of all purchase amounts in a savings account, which you can withdraw money from. I thought it was nice at the time to have "money" to buy college books with and tuition. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
In 2006, I got fired for the first time from my job. This resulted in 3 months of unemployment, and I didn't have any money to pay my bills. Also, my parents couldn't help me out since they were strapped as it is. I let my AmEx bill go for 3 months without being able to pay anything on it. My bill, plus interest and late fees, added up to $2,789 plus change. There was no way I could pay it off.
I received a call from a supervisor at AmEx saying that I owed the full amount. I told her that I could not pay the amount, but that I would be happy to pay in monthly installments, since I had just gotten a job. She declined and said that if I didn't pay the full amount, she would immediately send my bill to collections. Well, since I couldn't pay, that's where it ended up, at United Recovery Systems. I decided to set up an account with a reputable debt management firm to see if they could work with AmEx and get them to accept some money, so they wouldn't sue me.
It worked, for a while. AmEx ceased to send me the invoices that I needed to send to the debt management firm (required to disburse monies), resulting in the firm to cease payments since they didn't know how much I still owed. I called United Recovery and AmEx several times for a bill, but they ignored me. Then, 4 months ago, I received a settlement plan from AmEx that said they would stop charging interest if I would pay a monthly fee of 44.00. I agreed with the plan, and closed my account with the firm. Big mistake! For 3 months, my payments went through NCO Financial to AmEx, with no problems.
Suddenly, while trying to pay on the bill online, the payment wouldn't go through, saying I owed no money. I immediately called NCO Financial to find out why, and they said that AmEx pulled my account and they don't know where it is. I have called AmEx several times but can't get a live person. I only get a message that asks you to enter your card number, but after I do, it says to call NCO Financial.
I am running around in circles, and I am worried sick, because I don't know if AmEx decided to charge off (erased) the debt, or placed it with another collections firm, violating the contract we agreed to. I know that the collections was my fault, but I can't stop worrying about if I still owe money. I don't want my credit score to drop any lower if I do. Does anyone know of a phone number to AmEx's customer service that doesn't prompt you to enter your card number? PLEASE HELP!!!
UPDATE: I contacted AmEX again tonight. Instead of saying my account number, I said customer service, and was directed to a representative. They gave another number for NCO (argh!). I'm going to try to contact NCO tomorrow and speak to a supervisor. If I get nowhere with them, I am sending a certified letter to AmEX and NCO expressing my irritation and telling them that if they don't help me soon, I will seek legal action. I have had it with them giving me the runaround. I am a human, I do make mistakes, and I'm trying to rectify the situation. They DO NOT care!
33139, FLORIDA -- While I was trying to purchase at a local store at 9.06pm on June 21, 2007, I called (from my cell phone in order to be identified by your system) American Express to ask to unlock the security put on my American Express card received that same day.
First the man that I was talking to on the phone asked me several security questions to identify me in order to make sure I was the credit card holder; which I passed. Then he asked me my work phone number, which I believe I wrote on my credit card application, to call my work place at 9.00pm! Here are his words: “Do you have an extension number?” After hesitating (caught by surprise on the relevance of the question), he told me he did not need it after all since he needed to identify me through the directory.
I replied that at that time of the night my company was closed and there would no one to answer his call. But he put me on hold and after few seconds he told me he was unable to contact my company. So I responded he should get my extension number but he refused insisting that I had to be at work to call your “customer service department”. I asked him how this would be possible for me to be at work at 9.00pm and being in a store trying to purchase items.
His answer: “Call us back tomorrow then”, on a sarcastic tone. “But I need to make this purchase now…” I answered. Having the feeling that a very smart person was not servicing me, I asked to talk to a supervisor to help me. It turned out that there was no supervisor on duty at the time I called your department. I hang up and called back at 9.17pm, a woman answered the call and told me that her co-worker tried to call my work extension number without success. How could this be possible? He refused to get my extension number. I insisted to give my extension number again.
The woman finally took it and dialed while I was on the other line. She finally told me she recognized my voice on my voice mail! She assured me they would unlock the security put my card, which never happened that night: I was unable to use my credit card. Shocked and embarrassed by the situation uncounted by your customer service, my husband and I decided to call few minutes later. Finally I was transferred to a supervisor who listened to my complaint then unexpectedly hanged up on me without apology and contacted me again! I believe I was very polite with everyone I talked to but they could feel my frustration as well as my anger.
I was so proud and excited to receive an application for an American Express card. All these feelings were washed away by the incompetence of your customer service personnel. Now I am afraid to use the American Express credit card I just received. My husband has been a member since 1997 and listening what was going on he could not believe the nonchalance and the impoliteness of American Express personnel.
The irony of this situation is that I received today an application for a Gold American Express card. Give me good reason to apply for it after having such a bad experience. I expected a much higher level of service from American Express, and I am quite disappointed. I am seriously considering canceling my membership with American Express since I am very happy with the services provided by other banks and my husband has decided not to use his Gold American Express card for an indefinite time.
CALIFORNIA -- American express is a scam. They sold me on mileage and travel saying if I spent 5k it would pay for a flight to Vegas and after spending over $5,000 they are only crediting me a $14 discount. Not worth your time or money. Any bank card will give you a better deal. I have been trying to cancel my card for an hour on the phone and they have hung up on me 3 times.
TAMPA, FLORIDA -- This is how the story goes. I've been a AMEX member since 1996, always paying the full balance when due, always!!! But, I decided to get their Costco AMEX because it made it easy for me to shop there. Within a month and a half of having this particular Amex, they notified me that my account was being cancelled (note I had never ever been late) and gave me too many reasons to list. So trying to make sense of it all, I called them to no avail. They said they would not re-instate the account.
So I continued to make my payments on time as always, until March of this year when I decided I did not want any more debt and paid the balance in FULL, even a little more so that it would take care of any interest the account could have accrued.
To my surprise and being sure I did not owe them a penny, I checked my account online, did not see any balance, so I dismissed the following statements (April), until a week ago I get a notification from a credit bureau letting me know that an account had reported me delinquent. Somehow, I knew, that it had to be American Express, so I got online and checked my account, and sure enough, there was a balance of $3.96 past due. Called them and they took care of it, denying they were the ones who had reported me late and therefore delinquent.
I just received a copy of my credit report, and what do I find out? That American Express, not only had reported my delinquent for $3.96, but that my cancelled account had been sent to the collections department (something they still deny). I tried to have them help me fix the situation with the credit bureau, and their answer was: since my account had been closed by them, that I would have to take care of it on my own. Once you are not a "member" anymore, you've fallen out of grace with them and you are treated poorly. Sad but true story.
After 24 years of using my American Express card I ran into a dispute with one of their vendors, the end result of which left me completely frustrated, shocked and extremely disappointed with American Express's mishandling and complete lack of support and understanding of the horrendous incident which happened to me during a vacation. After 9 months of faxing them letters, receipts, and information about the incident (sometimes more than once because the AMEX supervisor I had to deal with kept losing them!), I hit a brick wall with them and realized sadly that they were not the same company they were when I first got my card back in 1985.
Over 24 years I have used my AMEX card all over the world on vacations and travel, and it all came to a grinding halt thanks to my dealings with a completely inept and myopic idiot of a customer service "supervisor" who goes by the mysterious alias of **. This "person" continually misunderstood the facts, did not follow up on information they requested me to send, and ultimately they proved unable to fully grasp what the situation was and continually ruled in favor of the vendor.
In some cases they got even the simplest facts wrong, such as the disputed amount, which card was used, etc (I have kept all my documentation which shows this). It was my desire to go to court with the vendor - instead, ** decided he or she would settle it instead, and in turn let the vendor use my American Express card as a shield to make sure they got paid & wouldn't have to answer for their negligence in court. Wrong!
It did not surprise me at all when I did a Google search about ** and found several other people who over the years have had had similar negative dealings with him or her that I did. What's most surprising to me is **'s managers apparently don't even care enough to check the internet to find out how this particular supervisor has been mistreating their customers and continually botching situation after situation over the years and hurting even their most loyal long term customers. I guess they are all too busy counting their money. Again, this is not the same company I joined back in 1985.
In the end, since I couldn't resolve the dispute with them, I simply refused to pay them, so naturally they've cancelled my card and have now resorted to besieging and harassing me with collection calls, which I guess they think is somehow going to suddenly convince me the vendor did nothing wrong to me and that the whole ugly incident that happened on my vacation was for some reason all my fault. Wrong again, American Express. Suffice it to say I will never again deal with AMEX and will let everyone I know exactly what happened to me and why the AMEX card is something they should avoid. Cheers...