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Privacy Issue w/ Customer Data at Amex
By -

EL PASO, TEXAS -- Have been an Amex customer for many years. Use the card daily. Just went to purchase airline tickets online and the airline I always fly with, and always purchase tickets with always with my Amex declined the transaction. Reason was that the address on file with my card company didn't match what was on file with the airline. I re-keyed and validated it 5 times. Finally went out to Amex website to see what address on file was listed as (I have a street address with the word "West" in it; but some address verification services just use "W"). I was SHOCKED to see my address listed at the house I lived in 4 years ago. And, worse, it is my ex-husband's address.

I have had 2 residences since that address on file, all updated timely with Amex. Three representatives at Amex could not give me an answer to why this occurred. They called it a "computer glitch." One representative said it was "above my pay grade." They surmised that my ex-husband recently made a change to his account profile and somehow because I was AT ONE TIME linked to him, it changed my address on my PRIMARY account.

The representative said they had been researching this - had a "few calls" - for over a month. I asked when I could expect an answer - told them (on the recorded line) that I considered this a MAJOR privacy issue. And, the last representative just told me she would have her supervisor call me - within 48 hours. So, I am waiting.

In the meantime, I cannot believe some Amex cardholder that this has happened to has not contacted the media. I work in the financial services industry - actually in technology, so the explanation of a "computer glitch" was particularly irritating to me - and we are obsessive about client data and related privacy. I would have expected Amex was REQUIRED BY LAW to disclose this "glitch," which represents nothing less than a customer data breach on the part of Amex. This situation is unbelievable to me.

I have been a long time Amex cardholder - as noted, I use the card every day, and about 3 times a week even online (so the address would have had to be accurate). I'm not sure what to do from here. In my case, my ex-husband was investigated by the police for an email breach that occurred during my divorce proceedings. I didn't know what to expect when I called Amex - was thinkng the worst, that my ex had been able to authenticate as me with Amex.

I had no inkling that Amex would tell me client data records had been somehow changed without customer consent or initiation. But that's basically what they said. And, worst of all - I am set up to receive alerts from Amex if my address, email, statement preferences, etc. change. Well, my address DID change. To my ex husband's address. And NOTHING from Amex. Nothing proactively, like the alerts. And, nothing but an exchange with 3 reps when I called that made me scared to continue to be an Amex customer...

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Still Waiting for an Apology
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CALIFORNIA -- I'm not really waiting for an apology but just reminiscing about my experience 30 years ago this April. My friend and I decided to spend some time driving the coast of California. We visited a lot of great places and we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco around midnight in late April of 1981. The next day we toured the town a bit in my 77 trans am and even stopped to chat with a nice S.F. police officer and we asked him for directions to a hotel or restaurant. I can't really recall where we were heading but little did I know we'd be seeing him again real soon.

We checked into a hotel and settled down around the swimming pool. One of the workers at the hotel even let us put our beer in the ice cooler. Couldn't have been more relaxing. That was until a about half of the S.F. police department and SWAT team showed up. They hopped the pool fence and pretty well had us surrounded by what had to be one of the most impressive collection of weapons owned by any police department in the United States.

I still remember the various pistols, shot guns and rifles all pointing mostly towards our heads. Some were inches away and a few stood out such as the Dirty Harry Swiss and Weston. I could see that some of the swat team were also taking aim at us from a balcony overlooking the pool. I later found out that there was a news crew there to document what was supposed to be a major crime bust.

We were told to put our hands on our heads, then someone ordered us to put our hands behind our backs, then our heads, then our backs until we were basically doing jumping jacks without the jumping. I finally asked them "what do you want us to do with our hands" which put an end to our hand waving and we were then placed in handcuffs.

So I guess there was a ten million dollar traveler's check bank robbery in Montreal and our checks were close to the serial numbers that were taken in the heist. Close but not the same apparently and we ended up getting a free night in the hotel because the clerk phoned it in. I don't think anyone was too happy that they had the wrong guys except for my friend and myself. We joked with the officer about asking him for directions earlier and we were just relieved that we weren't going off to jail.

That's the short version of the events of that afternoon, but my issue with American Express is that none of the major banks would cash in my checks and exchange them for new ones. We finally convinced an angry bank manager in Santa Barbara to exchange them for cash or Thomas Jeffersons but that cost me a few bucks for the transaction. This was after a few calls to American Express and following their instructions.

I talked to my bank when I got back home but I never heard back from American Express and being very young, I guess I just let it go. A refund still would have been nice for the few bucks that I lost. At least it would have shown that someone at head office cared a bit when one of their customers ends up staring down the barrel of over a dozen weapons because we were using A.E's checks.

It doesn't really matter anymore but in any event I thought that this was an interesting story to share. I still have credit cards but I'm still hesitating on getting one from American Express. I guess I just don't want to ever again suffer standing in my shorts in the hot sun and watching my beer go flat because I'm wearing some nice, tight steel handcuffs.

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American Express the Evil
By -

Boycott American Express. I was a 13 year member/customer of American Express. With a credit score of 800 and decided to open a Import furniture company. American Express did a great job offering me 5 accounts with credit of 150k with low aprs and continued to market me and offer more account. I pay all my debts on time and importing counted on American Express for my container purchases. This is what American Express can do for you. They will offer you loads of great deals, but watch out - here is what they did to me.

2 years ago they told me my Gold account had earned 40k+ earned expenditures, then when economy took a turn they quickly lowered it to 22k and said, "Your FICO score changed." It hadn't changed until they did this to all 5 account I had with them maxing out my cards making it appear as I was debited out.

November 2010 they called me before my cut off date asking for a payment, I stated my cut off date was next week and that no payment was due. They continued to beg to set up a payment, I said "Why are you calling? I always paid my debts on time. I paid 65k off in debts this year." She replied "Oh yes and 25k off on your account is with us, you are a excellent customer for 13 years," then said "Can we set up your next payment." I said "No, I will pay it as I always do."

The day before my statement date they emailed me a letter saying, "So there are no surprises when using your account. We lowered your limit on your gold card to 1500.00. Stay in your limit or you will be embarrassed at checkout."

I called a supervisor again - was told my FICO score changed (I ran a credit report and no changes EXCELLENT CREDIT). Then said, "If you give us 3 years business taxes maybe we will give you a little bit back." I closed all account - told her she was damaging my cash flow for my company and importing and it was all or none, meaning work this out or it would cause me into default. She replied "Your FICO score created this." I have my credit report printed and it's excellent.

I had a container departure leaving Indonesia and needed it, I had to use the money I would have paid them to get my goods to save my business. I in turn incorporated my business, homesteaded my home to protect me from them. I sent them the cease & desist letter as I was advised to do so. I sent them a letter to do debt consolidation and immediately they sent me to collections. I now had to do the same thing to their collections who are very rude. All this at the holidays, I have survived with my company through all the hurdles of the economy and they have made it to almost close my company due to my cash flow.

In addition, they sent me to collections for this. They sent me to an attorney who is pathetic and has no better customer service skills or solutions. I am starting my New Year off with the theory "œsupport small Business" - never bank or invest in large companies, minimize doing any sort of business with corporations - if there is a company local you can do business with do so.

If anyone has any ideas or success stories, please email me on my next step with American Express. By the way the points they give you, they truly don't give you, MERCHANTS PAY POINTS WHEN YOU USE YOUR CARD AT THEIR BUSINESS. Let's all pay cash and let these companies know what it feels like, and how it hurts! It is time to take stands American and stop letting companies like AMERICAN EXPRESS whom NEEDS TO BE CLOSED effect us!

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American Express Open Small Business Is a Personal Account
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I was a co-owner of a small business. We received a solicitation to our business by mail for an Open small business AMEX account. We returned the application in the businesses FEIN. As part of the application, we had cards issued to each of our employees so that they could charge fuel and operating expenses.

We closed our business at the end of 2006 and wound up carrying a balance on the OPEN account. The account was always paid on-time and well more than the minimum, although it was usually paid off. We closed our business after being stiffed on a lot of money after our biggest client defaulted on payment. We continued to pay down the AMEX bill with personal funds in good faith for 18 months. AMEX continued to raise the interest rate from 9.99% to 24.99% even though the bill was always paid on-time and above the minimum. We called to protest the laughable rate and made an offer to close out the account.

AMEX insisted that the account was a personal account and began to threaten our personal credit. When we protested such an outrage, they informed us that the terms of the account changed once the card was used and the cards became personal cards. Even though all of the charges were by the employees, they linked the charges to "my" card. They offered to settle at 80%, but "Mr. **" of AMEX demanded immediate payment. If we didn't pay immediately, the account would be declared "distressed" and would immediately go to collections against me personally.

I told him that it would take a day or two to get the money to them as I wasn't going to wire transfer money out of necessary accounts over the telephone. He said that I had to pay in that phone call or the offer was rescinded and collections would start immediately. I told him to take a hike. After consulting a very good attorney, paperwork was requested and AMEX did in fact bury changes to the terms making it a "personal" account instead of a "business" account. They reserved the right to go after any cardholder or all, regardless of who made the charges on the linked account.

After a month of wrangling, AMEX offered settlement at 75%, payable in 30 days. After we paid it, we received a notice that they were reporting it against my personal credit and that I was receiving a 1099-MISC income statement in the amount of the write-down. They also informed me that if I ever applied for another AMEX card of any kind, they reserved the right to re-apply the write-down balance to my account immediately plus interest. That's an easy one to handle.

This bait and switch was never knowingly agreed to by me or any of our employees. Thankfully, the resources were there to pay off the account and the resulting tax hit from their games. This company is crooked crooked crooked and appears to do anything in their power, legal or illegal, to change the terms in their favor after the fact. I would have never knowingly agreed to personally guarantee the accounts of a business. Shame on American Express. The only way to beat their rigged game is to not play it at all.

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American Express Leave Home Without Them
By -

Time to leave home without American Express! As long time customers of American Express let us share our frustration and disappointment in the way this company has been treating us and indeed many card members during this past year. Our cascading grief is over American Express' reduction of our credit limits, and raising credit card interest rates. American Express is reacting to the financial crisis out of fear. The financial damage to American Express will be long lasting and far-reaching.

Let us give you a little history as to what type of customers we have been. Our payments are always on time to all our creditors. Our story is like so many other card members. We have two open accounts with American Express. We have been members for seven years, perfect credit with long established payment history, FICO scores over 800 but only Amex has tampered with our credit limits. Only Amex has seen this pressing need to reduce our credit limits.

We called Costco and took off the auto renewal for Amex, we no longer want American Express to continue any further unilateral credit damage to our pristine credit portfolio. American Express can no longer be trusted with our credit. We have stayed the course but American Express has run into the economic ditch!

We have called several times, talked to numerous staff, those who survived, faxed our request with supporting documentation and now we are writing to you for redress. In the past it was a punishment to raise interest rates for those who could not pay their debt on time. Is this our reward for being loyal card members with established credit histories, to raise our interest rates for paying our debt on time? We suggest, just as American Express looks ever so closely at our credit worthiness, we look to the executive board and CEO for leadership worthiness!

These actions take us back to a time where perhaps Pony Express might be a better company name. American Express is in total free fall. American Express is failing to provide customer service with a total disregard for ethics and indifference to the many card members. It seems we are going back in time with Pony American Express. We just recently read of American Express filing a lawsuit against the infamous Courtney Love. Legal papers showed the rocker owes $352,059.67 in unpaid charges and fees on her Amex Gold Card - which has since been suspended by the company.

So let us understand, American Express trusted a well-known drug addict, notorious for her litigation in not paying bills and American Express extended credit on a gold card for $350,000 but Amex cannot restore our previous credit limit of $40,000? We pay all our bills on time, never been late on any of our payments and we are not drug addicts, in fact we do not even use drugs, not even the good kind! American Express will never need to file litigation against us but we know so many who want to file a class action lawsuit against American Express.

We jumped through the languishing morass of the many hoops of fire and sent in our full credit report, tax returns and listed assets along with an overall financial statement. We are writing to inform you that, after reviewing your letter of August 2009 denying us our credit increase, with obfuscated contrived reasons we will not accept this treatment from American Express.

We are financially solid and have not changed, we are not sure the same can be said of the financial hemorrhaging of American Express that will hold another round of layoffs, after cutting 7,000 jobs in October 2008, decimating its work force along with frozen salaries and good luck with that Courtney Love lawsuit. It was sadly, no surprise, when we read your computer-generated letter of indifference. The famous words of Thomas Jefferson rang so true "Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."

In July of 2009, American Express itself stated second-quarter net income came in at $337 million, down 48% from 2008 when the company made $653 million. This net income attributable to common shareholders was only 9 cents a share, down from 56 cents a share in the year-ago quarter, according to the company. At the same time net write-offs for the company were 10% of total loans in American Express's U.S. card-services business in the second quarter. Loans that were at least 30 days delinquent represented 4.4% of total loans in the latest period, up from 3.3% a year earlier. We do read the Wall Street Journal.

Yet with all this bad news, there was one bright spot as stated by the financial leader of American Express, Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault: "€œThe number of card members who are falling behind in their payments, the volume of bankruptcy filings and the level of loan write-offs were better than we had expected."

"€œIf these trends continue, we expect U.S. lending write-off rates on a managed basis to be below 10% for the second half of the year, which is lower than the outlook we offered earlier this year," Mr. Chenault added. Yet American Express continues to punish us, the good card members, why? Is it out of fear that we might increase the financial bloodletting? I do not think you need our help for that! May I suggest a bold new direction, take care of the customer first and the bottom line will follow!

American Express appears, as a company, to be in poor financial shape, and undercapitalized. Since we take our financial life seriously, we cannot be associated with a financial company that manages to lose so many employees, assets and runs its own affairs so poorly. We are not proud of our American Express relationship, are you proud of your leadership? In addition, American Express has too many bad reviews within the consumer community, and your overall rating on every consumer site, is a very poor rating.

I looked, in vain, for a POSITIVE review of your company from any person or news source, and could not find even one except for the mysterious award from JD Powers. Even JD Powers would not return my calls when I asked them to define further what criteria they used to base American Express only award of "good customer service."

This recession will not last forever. When it is over, and people choose the few credit cards they are willing to use, there will be fewer companies and cards to choose from. The ones who will survive are the ones who realize that the only thing that keeps a credit card company afloat are customers who accept a card, use it, and pay their bills. The companies who will be in business then are the ones who take care of that good group of people today. You are clearly NOT taking care of your good customers today, so I don't expect you to be in business then.

American Express has raised our interest rates on not only new purchases but on all existing balances. In fact when Congress passed the Credit Card Reform Act, this is exactly what they wanted to prevent Credit Card Companies from doing. We also found this very interesting from Financial News USA. "WASHINGTON (AP) -- American Express Co. spent $710,000 lobbying the federal government in the second quarter on legislation touching on an array of financial issues, a recent disclosure report shows."

The article continues with American Express lobbied lawmakers on legislation related to credit card fees and practices, data security and consumer privacy. American Express also lobbied in the April-June period on consumer bankruptcy, advertising and taxes. Beside Congress, the company lobbied the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, Office of Thrift Supervision, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Internal Revenue Service and Executive Office of the President, according to the report filed July 20 with the House clerk's office.

The $710,000 spent by American Express in the second quarter compares with $830,000 in the first quarter, and nearly $1.1 million in the year-ago period. We were amazed to find American Express on the fast track to being granted banking status in just a 30 day period. This usually takes much longer. Of course with this banking status, the company gained over 3 billion in TARP funds. It was not so nice for American Express to get credit but deny the card members credit.

Our final question, was the $710,000 well spent for the persuasion of influence in Washington DC? While your company is losing funding, market share, customers, bad debt write offs, against a backdrop of massive company layoffs and your increasing salary of over 42 million with a base salary, cash bonus, stock and other options was it all worth it? Just curious! So Mr. Kenneth Chenault can you redress this issue with our credit limit or do we need to hold American Express accountable in the court of public opinion? The choice is yours.

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AmEx Fails to Consider Profitability and Lifetime Value
By -

My card was canceled today. I am baffled. I have been a member for 7 years, during which time, they started me at $500 credit line. They quickly moved me to $5,000 and then $10,000 where I have been for the past 7 years. I typically run about $5,000 to $10,000 per month on it paying it in full all the time. I never had a late payment or any issue with them. They were definitely my favorite card to work with.

In November of 08, they cut me to 5k with no warning saying that they check credit reports monthly. Then in December, they cut me to $500. Of course, both cuts were when I had paid the balance down, so in essence, they took operating capital from my small business. Losing the $10,000 of operating room in a 60 day period hurt pretty bad. Then I lived with the frustration of a $500 line.

I would have closed it myself, except that I have become dependent on the Hilton Honors points as a part of my business travel budget. I was having to really work it to get the $500 credit line to work with the $20k I needed to keep gold point status. I began paying it off every other day and then using it in smaller chunks. I had several conversations with the reps saying that $500 didn't get me through a weekend of travel or even allow me to book most air tickets.

Then yesterday, they canceled me completely. Again, I asked them why. Since I had checked my credit report in December when they did the first cuts, I had a comparison base. When I checked it today, my outstanding overall debt had gone down by about $8k in the past 4 months. My credit score had increased 70 points.

There were no marks against me except I accidentally went $2 over my credit limit on my smallest Visa card this month and quickly got it back below the limit (I had paid it in full at the beginning of the monthly cycle), so I had a possible negative alert that I had gone $2 over a limit for a few days on a different card. That was the only thing I saw that might have triggered their models.

I have some inside insight as I used to build credit and marketing models for USAA and Bank of America. I truly think some JUNIOR analyst at Amex has built a very short sighted and limited scope credit model. The big question is, why is American Express management not seeing that it will run them into the ground very quickly? I found another article that said that their Q1 profit was down 56%.

I had a perfect payment history running between 5k and 10k a month through their system at a 4.5% merchant fee per transaction. Did they really think I was at risk of missing a $15 a month minimum payment? That is $180 per year. I made an online or phone payment several times a week of whatever they would let me pay when they dropped me to $500 (trying to maintain my $20,000 per year gold point status means I had to pay off the $500 40 times in a year).

It would have been virtually impossible for me to miss the $15 monthly minimum payment. And when they dropped me to $500, how big was their risk? Are they cutting risk, or destroying their profit base? I vote for the later. I am 41 and WAS a very loyal Amex customer with decades of high dollar spending left in me.

In addition, I just received a letter that the cancellation could have a negative impact on my credit report. How can that be when I have always been an excellent customer for them? I would happily join in a class action lawsuit. Sign me up.

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Credit Limit Reduced W/ No Notice - Stranded in Europe With No Credit Card
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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.

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Amex Scamming Their Customers With Poor Service and Excuses
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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.

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Watch These Guys, They Take From Main Street
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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 "€œI 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.

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Amex Empowers Reps, a Good Sign of a Service-Oriented Comeback
By -

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?

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