“Frankly,” said a junk mail letter, sent for over 25 years
to potential customers, “not everybody qualifies for the American Express
This was back when the card’s appeal was to people who were
qualified and trustworthy enough to pay their American Express bills within 30
days. Terms and conditions were mostly in the favor of consumers. American
Express was on your side. No wonder people were willing to pay (in those days)
an extra $50 a year to have the card.
Then, little by little, the green card slipped down the
greasy pole when American Express introduced a gold card, for a higher annual
feel. Then both gold and green slipped further down as American Express
introduced a platinum card, which has since been topped by yet another card.
As the annual fees grew more and more ridiculous, the
benefits of the lower-rung cards begin to fade away. Primary among them was the
trust American Express seemed to put in its customers. That shank, just as the window to
pay up shrank from four weeks to two.
“We have the right to bankrupt you”
This week I opened my American Express bill and found
“Detail of Changes to Your Cardmember Agreement.” Needless to say, American
Express didn’t ask me before making them.
And here are the killer details:
“If we need to contact you to service your account or to
collect amounts you owe, you authorize us (and our affiliates, agents and
contractors) to contact you at any number you provide, from which you call us,
or at which we believe we can
reach you. We may contact you in any way, such as calling or texting. We may
contact you using an automated dialer or prerecorded messages. We may contact
you on a mobile, wireless or similar device, even if you are charged for it. “[Italics my own.]
In other words, not only can they harass you to death, they
can keep robo-texting your cell phone until you are over your limit and
drowning in a deep financial hole. In fact, if you charge your cell phone bill
to your American Express card, you can grow more indebted to them every time
they harass you.
And if you’re already in a hole, they can drive you into a
deeper hole. They can call you at your office. They can keep calling your boss,
a number “at which we believe we can reach you,” until you lose your job.. They
can hire thuggish bill collectors with threatening voices to call you.
Of course, you can cancel your card membership. But canceling credit cards will lower your credit rating, so be warned. Or you can simply not use your card, in which case you'll be paying them $60 a year or more for nothing.cccv
Hey American Express get rid of that Roman centurion on your
credit cards and replace him with Darth Vader.