Monday, February 9, 2009

What I want to do with my American Express card

I can’t do. But I can dream.

I have been on the phone and their website for SIX hours. That’s six hours of my life I can’t get back.

All I want to do is redeem some “Membership Points” for travel. Having been a “Member” since 1978, I have a few.

So I go thru the machinations of finding the flights I want and try to book it. Here’s their little trick. You first have to pay for the trip on your card. Then, they promise to credit your account with the points by your next billing statement. That way, they get to carry the charge on their books and make money. After they have already made the money off of me for the past 31 years.

Oh, but there is a problem. There was a fraudulent charge on my account last May. A big one. Thousands of dollars. That’s ten months ago. We have had an election in the meantime. Children have been conceived and born in the meantime. But, American Express can’t seem to resolve this charge. (Something tells me they sent the money to the Eastern European scumbag, and they don’t know how to get it back.)

They agree that it is fraudulent, but for some reason it still shows as an outstanding balance on my card. And since American Express decided last fall to establish a credit limit on their “Members” for the first time in history, the fraudulent charge counts against my credit limit.

So, when the nice man with American Express Travel (“Clark” in Mumbai) tried to book my travel, it wouldn’t go thru. I explained the situation to “Clark”. And to the nice folks in Florida at American Express “Cardmember Services”. “No sir, you don’t owe us that money, but we can’t put the charge thru.”

“So, how can I use the bajillion “Membership Points” that I have paid you for that are in my account?” I ask. “You can’t”, they reply. Then they ask, is there anything else we can do for you today?

That wasn’t the deal we made 31 years ago, pal. The reason for having American Express is no credit limit. So if I am traveling in say, Mumbai, and the hotel gets attacked by terrorists, and I have to buy new clothes and a catheter, my card will work. Because I am a “Member”. Or, don’t you remember that promise you made me 31 years ago.

American Express, here’s what you can do for me today.

Take your member and place it in the paper shredder. Take your member and pound it with a meat tenderizer. Take your member and put it in a woodchipper, and I hope it drags the rest of you and your company with it.