My Letter To American Express

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In my last post, I shared with you my unpleasant experience with American’s Express’s “Financial Review” process. Here is the letter I will be sending to them:

My Letter To American Express

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dear Sir/Madame,

On December 3d, 2008, I received a call from Mr. Chris xxxxx with the financial review team. The call was extremely difficult to hear, both due to the poor connection as well as the heavily accented language of Mr. xxxxx. Frankly, it seemed more like a fraudulent attempt to obtain personal information than a legitimate communication from American Express. I was then startled to find out that my American Express accounts had been abruptly suspended.

I hold multiple American Express Cards, and was recently approved for additional cards that I will be using for business and travel expenses. As I am sure your records will confirm, I have always paid my balances in full and on time.

The actions by American Express were outrageous on many levels:

1. All of my credit cards were suspended without notice. Had I been out of town or out of the country, this would have been a major inconvenience and possibly a crisis.

2. Although I faxed the requested forms to American Express promptly, it took several weeks to restore my accounts. My original fax on December 5th contained my wife’s social security number, but not her name. Several days later, I was told of the error, and that only I could correct it. I re-faxed the form on the 9th. It then took two weeks, and another call to Mr. xxxxx to follow up, for my accounts to be restored.

3. Due to this issue, I was unable to achieve the $30,000 in annual spending necessary on my Starwood American Express card to be awarded Starwood Gold Status for 2009. This is a very valuable elite status, and one of the very reasons that I have been an active user of my Starwood card.

4. Throughout this entire ordeal, I kept receiving marketing material encouraging me to activate and use my American Express cards. It was as if American Express was mocking me.

I recently applied for and received cards for business and travel. It was shortly after that, that my accounts were suspended. If American Express did not want to extent me those cards, then they should have just denied them rather than approve them and suspend all of my accounts. I have been a loyal card holder who has consistently kept my obligations to American Express. I no longer feel that American Express can be trusted to uphold theirs.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Sincerely,

Jason D. Steele
Credit Blogger for AskMrCreditCard.com

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15 Responses to “My Letter To American Express”

  1. Karen Says:

    I am a small business owner (lawyer) who used American Express to start my own boutique divorce law practice 5 years ago. My clients are suffering in these economic times, and my income has been cut. But the firm remains intact and employs 4 people. We are all tightening our belts and doing what we can to help one another through this bad patch.

    I counted on Am Ex for credit to the tune of about $35,000 last year. That miserable company has been paid every single penny my firm owes them. In fact they were prepaid for January, 2009.

    Despite their new identity as a bank-holding company (qualifying them for TARP monies) and despite the sterling credit relationship we have had over the past 5 years, I received an EMAIL tonight advising me that my credit line has been slashed to $1,500.

    No discussion, no warning, just a unilateral vindictive move. Nice way to start the year for AmEx customer service!!

    What small business can operate with $1,500 in monthly credit?

    Of course I am unable to respond to the email. They don’t want to hear back from me, or anyone like me. The email response was bounced back to me. I am unable to reach a live person or an email address by electronic mail.

    I called their cutsomer service tonight. After nearly 30 minutes on hold (on a Sunday night) I was able to get through to a representative who actually argued with me about canceling the account. Finally “Randy” canceled the account.

    I promised I would share this news with at least a dozen other people and ask that they consider terminating their credit relationship with this company.

    It is avarice and greed that got our economy into this frying pan to begin with. Here’s more…pass the TARP dollars. AmEx will be safe…

  2. Jean Says:

    I, too, had a miserable experience with AmEx, after being a cardholder for 16 years….never missed a payment, etc. I renovated my bathrooms last summer and wanted to put the tile and fixtures on my AmEx card, simply so I could get the miles into my Membership Miles account. Those miserable you-know-what’s denied the charges because they were “over my usual monthly spend”. Not a word to ME about it – just denied the charges. I argued that their advertisements proudly say “So I switched to American Express and it never happened again”. What a joke. They didn’t care and said my account would be frozen at $1500 for six months and there would be no review before that six months was over. I looked like a fool to my vendors and will never forgive them for that. I canceled my card and wrote a letter similar to the one above. The sad part of that is that AmEx doesn’t even care that I’m gone – I never got a reply to my letter and I actually still get advertisements from them. What arrogance!!

    Like Karen, I have told everyone I know this story and I believe in my own little way, I have cost them some business. I am so grateful for this opportunity to spread the word even farther!

  3. SimplyForties Says:

    What an unfortunate experience. That’s a great letter and I hope you get the response you want although it doesn’t sound like they are too concerned. I don’t do business with AMEX based on an unfortunate experience I had with them several years ago. I have no interest in ever using them again. Good luck!

  4. Mark Says:

    I would love to take all of us and class-action these #*^#*. Not only did they effect my business line of credit with their little, lowering the limit stunt, but because, I personally guaranteed the card, the stunt also affected my FICO score. To add injury to insult, if you want to know why the action took place, good luck on finding out. Their customer no service department is THE WORST.

  5. Maureen Says:

    American Express really seems to like canceling accounts. I have been checking the internet since I received a letter today notifying me that they canceled my accounts without warning. Fortunately, I was not left stranded out of town like some people I read about. I also have never had an account canceled, pay on time, yada yada yada. The only reason I had the darn thing was to shop at Costco. So now I am not going to shop at Costco anymore. It always bugged me that they only accepted AMEX anyway. I could pay by cash or check, but I don’t carry cash much and hate writing checks, especially as I am juggling a newborn right now. Several people that I have read about have been told that they could get their account reinstated for a fee, which seems like a scam. They couldn’t pay me to do business with them. It’s bad enough that they canceled the card, but at the bottom of the letter it tells me that the fact that they canceled my card will hurt my credit and I better not try to not pay them, cause they’ll call a credit collector on me. It was like whoever wrote the letter had had a bad day and wanted to make sure I had a bad day too. It’s annoying to rub it in that they are hurting my credit, but just rude to imply I wouldn’t pay my card. At the same time, I wonder what would happen if I couldn’t pay my balance. They gave me a $30,000 limit, which I neither wanted, nor needed. If I was carrying $30,000 in debt and they said I had to pay it all now, I’d be in trouble.

  6. Sheilah Says:

    This past weekend I had an awful experience with American Express. On 5/29/09 I flew to Illinois for my granddaughter’s high school graduation. I stopped to buy a graduation gift for $25.00 and my card was declined. When I called Amex, I was told they cancelled me that day AND sent the letter out that day! I was on the phone with them for three hours. I was told I owned a business, and when I explained I never owned a business, the rep asked why was my name down as the owner. Then I was asked for my yearly salary, phone numbers, address, SS#, etc. She said she was trying to reinstate my card, but after she “updated” her records with my current information, she said there was nothing their office could do.

    I had to cut my trip short, pay to change my airline ticket, and return home earlier than planned. It was a good thing my sister came in town for the graduation because I stayed in her hotel room. I cried from my arrival date through the entire weekend. I was so depressed when I returned home, I couldn’t get out of the bed that Monday until late afternoon.

    I contacted the Executive Assistant to the CEO of American Express. I explained to him on 5/29/09 I was advised by Amex my card was cancelled because my debt level increased and I had delinquencies. However, I had not incurred additional debt since they gave me a card one year ago, in fact, my debt level decreased. Also, none of my creditors have contacted me about delinquencies.

    The Executive Assistant contacted me yesterday, but supported (of course) the actions of the company. I asked for a copy of my report when they initially granted credit to me last year, and the “periodic reports” leading up to now. I was told he could not give me that information.

    If you have or are experiencing problems with Amex, send complaints to the following address. If you say or do nothing, Amex will continue their unfair practices. I feel they should contact consumers way in advance of cancelling accounts. I would not have used my Amex card for an airline ticket had I known they were about to cancel me. That could have been money paid towards the balance of my card.

    Office of Thrift Supervision (800.842.6929)
    1700 G Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20552

    I have had American Express Blue for one year and was never late, and paid my bill before the due date.

  7. iloveny Says:

    The same thing happened to me. Over the weekend when about to pay for my grocery shopping of $46,I found out that my card was cancelled without any notification. I have been their loyal customer and always used Amex cards whenever & wherever is accepted. I was always on time, never missed on any single payments and had never carried any balance.
    What a dissapointment!

    Does anyone knows if the cancellation by American Express will affect my credit score. I just pulled out my credit score report from Experian, it doesn’t show any cancellation of my Amex Card and my score is 780.

  8. GLOBETROTTER Says:

    Thanks for the 800 number for the Office of Thrift Supervision. I have a different problem. All of a sudden, AMEX is now requesting a password from me. The problem is that I never created a password and believe I have been a on time never late with payment customer for more than ten years. To add insult to injury the customer service agent stated well if you don’t have a password, then your mother’s maiden name is sufficient . I asked how did they get that information about me. The agent stated , ” ooh we use public records to attain that information!”. Then of course, I stated well that obviously can not be a secure method to verify me especially if public records are used to generate security measures? As the conversation accelerated in a downward spiral. I said I simply want to CANCEL. I am done! The agent said I can transfer you to that department but I need your password. Of course, I explained my position using lovely words like @#$% and %^^&**(()$$%^. You get the point. … They refuse to let me cancel my account. Can anyone out there provide me with the address where I cancel this $%^&**(( account?

  9. Benedict R Says:

    AmEx screwed me also. After being declined in the check out line with a business assoc. I called AmEx to ask why this happened. I paid my balance in full and could not understand. They said if I paid $3000.00 towards my account all would be fine. I did as they said with not getting a straight answer (my stupidity) and went to use the card again. Not only was my card declined it was canceled! No letter, no phone call or nothing. This was all in a 4 day span. They gave me the same poor FICA score crap. They are just in trouble and about to go out of business is what I think. This is happening to all of us loyal customers.

  10. Joe Says:

    I too had a negative experience with American Express. After being a loyal customer for 4 years, paying off balances in full each month, my credit line was cut from $28,000.00 to $12,500.00. The reason I was given by an AMEX representative (who spoke extremely poor English) was that “Changes in my credit report made my account a higher risk”. The only change made in my credit report was the purchase of a home- I have not been late paying AMEX, or any other bill EVER. More recently, my AMEX card was denied for a $245.00 purchase; finding this odd, I immediately called AMEX for an explanation. The rude, heavily accented voice told me that a payment had not been received last month, so my account is being suspended until a $50 minimum payment is received. After reviewing my records, I realized I did forget to pay the bill last month- however, this is this FIRST bill EVER missed in the account! I immediately paid the balance and cancelled my account. After being a card holder for 5+ years, I would never use AMEX again, and will be an advocate for preventing anyone else from signing up with this company. The fact of the matter is, most places prefer not to accept this card, and the company treats its customers EXTREMELY poorly.

  11. Brian W Says:

    New problem with American Express.

    A month ago I received a pre-selected offer for their Premier Rewards Gold Card (which is also heavily advertised). Among the benefits included 25,000 bonus points to join, 2x or 3x points on certain purchases, and waiving the first year annual fee ($175). I joined, and within a couple of days was approved and had my cards sent to me. No problems so far…

    A week ago I received a bill. It was noticably higher than it should have been. Why — the itemization reported a $175 annual fee charge. I went online to check details on Membership bonus points, and you guessed it…no bonus points. So I called.

    Got a young woman (18 or 19) I would judge. I brought up the annual fee issue and the bonus points issue. With an air of finality, she said, “No such offer exists.” I saw red. I said, with some degree of self-control, “I have the offer here, in writing, from your company, and it’s spelled out on your website as well.”

    So, after twenty minutes of wrangling, she told me that I needed to fax the original letter from American Express to have them honor the offer. I did that a week ago with a cover letter asking for a follow-up call. No follow-up call has happened.

    So…I get to call them tomorrow to determine if the issue has been resolved. If not…I will pay off the balance, stick the card in a drawer for a year so that I can get a credit score bump from it, and then cancel the card before the renewal date.

  12. Robert David S Says:

    Well, today I was cancelled. Admittedly I have poor credit right now, but AMEX had been kept in reserve. A couple months back I paid everything in arrears and was squared away.

    As I rebuild I was using AMEX to secure a car rental and a new PC. Having just been paid, and having a $1000 AMEX balance all but a few days old, I logged onto the website to pay them — and bam! — everything cancelled.

    21 years and a boatload of money thru them and I’m left high and dry. Eventually I will pay them, but in the meantime I think I’m going to let it run 90 or 180 days behind at this point. Let ‘em suffer.

  13. vanessa Says:

    Hello,
    August 26, 2010
    My name is Vanessa I applied for my Amex card for the first time my create score is 726 and my CL was 2000 mind u this is the first month I have gotten my card and use it a lot so I can get the flying miles. Only two weeks of using my card and I used about 1200 but I paid $1000 early because I didn’t want the balance to be low. I get a email saying my account is canceled WOW! what a shocker. So I call them asking why my account was canceled they give me some BS excuse that my credit went down yes it did not by much but because I brought a new car and have got few new credit cards; but we all know when you run your credit and get a car your credit score will go down a little but will shoot back up in 1 month or 2. Now I worry about the impact on my credit this will make because they canceled my account but it was literately for no reason and not my fault I still have to pay what I used within 90 which is not a problem, but I’m upset cause I can’t use my card anymore and I think its very unfair that they can do that and I hope and pray it does not mess up my credit. If I would have known this would happen I would have never applied for this card and I strongly recommend people don’t apply for any Amex card.
    Thank you for reading
    *Vanessa

  14. Brad Says:

    Boycot American Express

    I was a 13 year member / customer of American Express. With A credit score off 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 agog they told me my Gold account ad earned 40k + earned spendatures, then when economy took a turn they quickly lowered it to 22k and said your fico score changed, it hadnt changed until they did this to all 5 account I had with them maxing out my cards making it appear as I was debtited 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 contiinued 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 25 k off on your account s with us, you are a excellent customer fo 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 tehy emailed me a letter saying,
    So there are no surprises when using your account we lowered your limit on your gold card t0 1500.00 stay in your limit oor you will be embarassed at checkout.
    I called a supervisor aginwas told my fico score changed, (i ran a crdit 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 acount told her she was damageing my acsh 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 its 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 Sease & 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 whol are very rude. All this at the holidays, I have survived with my company through all the hurdes of the economy and they have made it to almost close my company due to my cash flow. Next on my list is Chase. I am starting my New Year off with the theory “support small Business” never bank or einvest 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 stores, please email me on my next step with American Express.
    By the way the points they give you, they truely dont give you, MERCHANTS PAY POINTS WHEN YOU USE YOUR CARD AT THEIR BUSINESS. Lets all pay cash and Take these companies down once and for all.

    AMERICAN EXPRESS NEEDS TO BE CLOSED!

  15. G. C. Says:

    Unfortunately, I’m just another number. AMEX suspended my accounts and contacted me to complete some IRS form. My accounts for some reason went into Financial Review.

    My short story is I applied for a personal plat and a business plat (approved for both). Received the cards in the mail, used them for a couple days, and first thing this morning (Monday) received a call stating that my accounts were frozen until an IRS form was completed, faxed, and they had received and reviewed my information from the IRS. First of all, my tax transcripts say very little of my net worth. I’m independently wealthy from inheritance and it’s obviously not calculated in my tax return. I offered bank statements or whatever else. Nope! I closed my accounts because I had no choice.

    I think this is ridiculous considering I have the Visa Black Card and several other lines of credit with several other financial institutions, with excessive limits, and have to go through some account review. Now, I get the whole bit about verifying income, but if someone’s credit is spot free and has been for years, there’s no need for this IRS form. Additionally, tax information should not be exposed to any financial institution for a credit card. Mortgage, yes; big purchase, yes. Not a credit card that has to be made back monthly.

    Later on after I was done with my anger, I called back to request the form be emailed to me to complete and ask for AMEX to reinstate my accounts. I was told that the computer wouldn’t allow it and that I would need to re-apply. REALLY?????? WTF?????

    Just ridiculous! Bad AMEX!!!!!! Poor banking!!!!!! Bad customer service.

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