ED Magedson – Founder
American ExpressAmerican Express Tower New York, New York United States of America
I received my first American Express card as a college student in 1982. The sole, thin plastic card in my wallet carried an important weight for me; I felt grown up and financially validated. Upon graduation I moved to New York, and as a young executive, I used my card with great pride. I often enjoyed a light meal and beverage at the newly opened Smith and Wollensky, sitting elbow to elbow with Manhattans business elite and proudly paying with my Green Card.
Over the years I was invited to receive many American Express products. I was an inaugural Optima cardholder, and my Green Card was upgraded to Gold and then subsequently Platinum. [continued below]....
Over the years, American Express changed many of their policies and the days of no preset spending limit were over. Credit lines were actively monitored and often reduced. Yet, this was perfectly understandable. Their website enhancements were exceptional, particularly the option to receive immediate credit for an online payment.
This is where the problem started. Although I had no current balance due on my Business Platinum Card, I made a $500 online payment on August 4th to provide additional funds for a trip I was taking to Spain. Due to a technical issue with my bank, the payment was returned, resubmitted, and my card was credited on the 6th. As I had a sizable credit line available, I felt comfortable using this card as the primary form of payment during my trip.
On the eve of my vacation, I received an email notifying me that my Optima card was canceled without any explanation. I still boarded the plane without concern as my other accounts were in good standing (as was the Optima card, however). I used my card frequently in Barcelona, until August 9th, when I was inundated with emails informing me that one card after another was being canceled. I made numerous calls to American Express seeking an answer. Each time I was graciously thanked for being a member since 1982, but also told that due to a returned, unpaid electronic payment my accounts were reevaluated and subsequently closed. I would deem the responses scripted and robotic. Nothing could be done to reinstate the accounts although they were all in good standing. Thankfully, the Business Platinum card I was carrying was not closed nor was my personal platinum card, which I had left at home. Each time I spoke to a representative, I explained that I was in Europe and needed access to my remaining account until I returned home.
On the evening of August 9th, quite literally when the hotel check was presented, I received an email that my business platinum account was closed. After a lengthy and embarrassing call to customer service in the middle of the establishment (again, with the same robotic response), my business associate paid the check. Later that evening, I again called customer service asking that they allow me to pay my hotel bill. After long delays, they reluctantly agreed. That was my last charge to the account.
When I returned to the states on August 9th, I called customer service and asked to speak to a supervisor. Repeatedly, I received the same robotic response. I asked myself if it truly made sense to humiliate a-28-year member based upon a purely algorithmic evaluation of my accounts. I attempted to rationalize the fact that the Business Platinum card required payment in full, which without fail I made on a monthly basis. In addition, the rather large annual membership fees would be lost, and of course there were thousands of dollars in expenditure charged to the multiple cards. The supervisor actually seemed truly compassionate. She stated that until just recently she had the authority to override a matter such as this but those days are gone. Since she worked with the OPEN accounts, she could not comment on my personal Platinum Card.
Over the next week, my personal platinum card remained active, and I repeatedly called American Express to ensure it was in good standing. On August 13th I spoke to an individual who assured me that may account was in good standing, but to just be certain, I should wire the $1,546 payment that was due. I followed these instructions and the account remained current. Days later I received notice that the account was closed. I made my last plea to an American Express supervisor, was again thanked for my many years as a card member, but due to a returned payment nothing could be done.
On August 20th I received a renewed personal Platinum card in the mail and was excited that American Express had reconsidered their position. I immediately called to activate the card and received the welcome response your card is now ready to use. I went out for lunch, and upon using the card to pay the tab, it was declined. Outraged, I again called a representative who was relatively speechless. She said it was sent in error and that the gentleman who suggested I send the wire transfer while assuring me the account was in good standing, had no authority to make such a commitment. I asked at a minimum the $25 wire fee be reimbursed, which she said she would look into. There has been no response to-date.
To make the situation even more horrific, Ive incurred a $1,097.35 fee for $500 in travelers checks I ordered on August 10th through the Members Reward program. With the assurance that my personal Platinum account was in good standing, I used 40,000 points and was advanced the balance through the Membership Miles program. This allows a ward program member time to pay back the miles with future purchases. Never would I have done so if I was not assured my card was in good standing; the $1097 charge is a result of absolute deception on behalf of American Express.
As all my accounts have been closed and my 28-year relationship with American Express shattered, I enrolled all my accounts into a debt consolidation program. Seemed I had nothing to lose, I repeatedly lived up to my financial commitments with American Express, yet they choose to shun me. I found it truly absurd that at the end of each of my many customer service conversations, the representative was sure to ask, is there anything else I can do for you?
At a minimum, I think it just to be reimbursed for the $25 wire fee (the payment could have easily been made online for no fee), my accrued membership dues, and the outrageous $1097 point advance fee, which was imposed with the knowledge all my accounts were to be closed. I would be happy to return the $500 dollar equivalence paid with advanced miles. Most of all, I would like to have either my personal or business platinum account(s) reinstated.
Is this practice legal? Are there laws in place to protect the consumer from unfair credit card penalties such as these? In one felt swoop can an outstanding card member of 28 years be chastised due to a simple ACH technicality while all accounts remained in good standing? Most definitely a victim of deceptive business practice, your assistance on gaining resolution to this matter will be greatly appreciated.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/20/2010 07:28 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/american-express/new-york-new-york-10281/american-express-american-express-champions-of-customer-centric-service-to-robotic-barba-642650. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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