American Express Really Sucks

! ! Do ! ! Leave Home Without It ! !
Ronald J. Riley
1323 West Cook Road
Grand Blanc, MI 48439
Phone (810) 655-8830 

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For many years an ever increasing number of mail order vendors have been offering low product quotes and then pad shipping to increase their profit margins.  As a result of this I get written quotes for the product including the shipping charges.

The story which follows is an example of a vendor who tried to gouge on shipping charges.  But even more interesting is the fact that American Express has insisted on backing the company who charged nearly three times what they quoted in writing for shipping.

Over the last three years American Express has added interest and penalties on an original disputed amount of $59.97 totaling $368.51, now claiming a grand total of $428.48.

A shyster mail order company is not unusual, but the level of incompetence, indifference, and incredible arrogance displayed by American Express is truly astounding.  My experience is not unique, take a look at: The Unofficial American Express Consumer Opinion Site

A search using Google turns up nearly four thousand web pages where people are voicing their displeasure over American Express.  American Express Sucks

! ! DO LEAVE HOME WITHOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS ! !

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In May 2000 I solicited quotes for two EnGenius wireless telephones which were advertised as accommodating up to four lines (two systems were supposed to create a two line system which could be expanded to four lines). 

The winning bidder was:

MCS, Business Telephones And Data Systems
127 Red Lion Road
Southampton, NJ 08088
(609) 859-1000, Fax (609) 859-1005
http://www.mcstel.com/

The quoted amount (in writing) was:

Qty Item UnitPrice Subtotal
2 ENGENUIS SN-900 ULTRA 2 $429.46 $858.92
2 ENGENUIS Ext. ANTENNA $99.00 $198.00
  Shipping Fed Ex Over Night   $36.20
      ---------
  Total   $1093.12

The invoiced amount was:

Qty Item UnitPrice Subtotal
2 ENGENUIS SN-900 ULTRA 2 $429.46 $858.92
2 ENGENUIS Ext. ANTENNA $99.00 $198.00
  Shipping Fed Ex Over Night   $96.17
      ---------
  Total   $1153.09

After receiving the telephones, setting up one, reading the manual, and calling the manufacturer for clarification, I found that the phones did not really fully support multi line use. Namely that when a handset was in use nothing indicated that another line was ringing.

So I requested a RMA for one unit and a credit for the excess shipping charges from MCS. First MCS tried to charge me a 25% restocking fee. After getting that issue resolved it still took them months (8/17/2000) to issue the credit.

In the meantime we filed a dispute with American Express. American Express cleared the dispute before the credit was issued and then started adding $29.00 per month late fees and interest.

Credit details

Qty Item UnitPrice Subtotal
1 ENGENUIS SN-900 ULTRA 2 $429.46 $429.46
1 ENGENUIS Ext. ANTENNA $99.00 $99.00
  Excess Shipping $96.17 - $36.20 =   $59.97
      ---------
  Total Credit   $588.43

A credit of $528.46 was eventually issued by MCS on 8-17-00, but the credit should have been $588.43, leaving a balance of $59.97.

We reinitiated the dispute process a second time. American Express closed the dispute yet again and once again started adding late fees and interest charges.

During the thirty-six months or so that this has gone on American Express has charged late charges and interest on the disputed excess shipping of $59.97, which has brought the balance to $428.48 . All this as a result of their original mistake of closing out the dispute repeatedly.

Who is at fault. Well the long delay by MCS in issuing the return credit is part of the problem, and American Express' consistent failure to communicate well with all the parties, due to a lack of continuity in who they have call, is by far the biggest problem.

I have personally explained this problem to over twenty of American Express' representatives. My book keeper has also written letters and fielded a bunch of calls. I have asked many of the representatives to involve a supervisor to no avail.

Both the value of my and my bookkeeper's time invested in dealing with the clowns at American Express far exceeds the original overcharge.  American Express Statement History

! ! DO LEAVE HOME WITHOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS ! !

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5-7-01 Update

On the evening of 5-7-01 a collection agency called and tried to bully me, claiming that I was responsible for a charge to the card which was not authorized. Such a claim is utter nonsense. This document serves as notice that I am not willing to receive telephone calls from any collection agency in regards to this matter. I expect all correspondence to be by mail. This is to ensure that there is a paper trail.

I have posted this explanation of the problem to Internet for two reasons. First is that I and my bookkeeper are not going to repeat this story anymore to the representatives who call on behalf of American Express. Rather we will just refer them to this page.

And second is my desire to help others avoid both MCS and American Express. MCS fraudulently overcharged my account and American Express is truly incompetent.

Credit Card Billing Errors

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4-15-03 Update

Well, dealing with American Express is much like getting some venereal diseases, it is most certainly distasteful and - it just might be for life.  It sure seems like it has gone on that long.  In reality it has only been three years.

After almost two years with no contact from American Express, I received a call 4-15-03.  To be fair the American Express collection person who called was quite pleasant.  And he did say he would pass this case to a supervisor.  But considering the history, I will not be holding my breath.  American Express has now inflated the balance to $428.48.  All based on their failure to charge back an amount fraudulently charged to my account in the amount of $59.97.

Fair Credit Reporting

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4-16-03

American Express calls again.  First Tracy talks to me, I explain the whole deal again to her and her response is that they will write off the 59.97 if I will pay the $368.51 in late fees and interest they have charged (on the $59.97) since May of 2000.  I explain to her that I expect them to write off the whole thing and she asks me to hold.

Then Lisa comes on the line, I go through the whole history yet again, and she promptly gets quite nasty - telling me that American Express doesn't make these kinds of mistakes.  

I ask her to go back in the records and review the transaction history.  She then tells me that she does not have the history and wants me to fax the material to her.  I explained to her that I had faxed the material to American Express more then once and expressed my dismay that they were so disorganized that they were trying to collect a supposed debt without having the records in hand. 

She tells me that they will post this to my credit history, and I explain to her that doing this with full knowledge of the circumstances would be actionable, and that my credit history is good enough and that with my explanation about the incredible incompetence of American Express that it would not do any good.  She then tells me that she will order the records and call me back

They Can't Just "Ruin Your Credit"

After explaining the situation three times in two days I have had enough, in that the three calls have brought back the (un)fond memories from a few years ago.  This is especially true when I keep getting calls from dimwitted automatons like Tracy and Lisa.  Especially Lisa, since she was so arrogant.  So I tell her not to call me anymore, that I want everything in writing so that there is a clear paper trail if this has to be litigated.

She then gets into a shouting match claiming that she will keep calling me until I pay.  I explain the law to her, that she cannot harass people in this manner, but it is clear that she is ignorant of the law.

! ! DO LEAVE HOME WITHOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS ! !

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4-17-03

I call America Express, and ask for the supervisor.  The receptionist tells me the supervisor is in a meeting and that she can help me.  I tell her that I will be filing a complaint with the FTC over their handling of this matter.  She explains to me that it does not matter, that it will not be the first complaint filed with the FTC. 

At last something we can all agree upon.  I am not surprised to hear that complaints are being filed about American Express.

FTC Credit Information - Online FTC complaint form

! ! DO LEAVE HOME WITHOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS ! !

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Today is 5-8-03, and American Express has been calling for a week at all hours, only to be screened out with caller ID.  While I am out Carol (800) 879-4358 calls and leaves a message.  

So now I am writing a letter, to be faxed and sent by certified mail, insisting that American Express not call.  There really is nothing more to talk about.  The charge was not authorized, I have the written quote, as do they.  I am not paying these idiots one more penny. 

And last, once or twice a month I get new offers from American Express for charge cards.  Those all go into the nearest wastebasket.  I just pitched a new one today.  I would have to be deranged to ever use American Express again.  Considering that there are many reputable charge card service providers like MBNA there is no reason to ever use the likes of American Express.

! ! DO LEAVE HOME WITHOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS ! !

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American Express Stooges:

It is hard to believe but there are between four and eight very vocal pro Amex people on www.ameXsuX.com, one or more of whom are collectively using at least two dozen screen names.  They post at all hours, virtually 24 hours a day.  

Anyone who visits the site seeking help for the problems they are having with American Express is greeted by a gang of Amex stooges.  The stooges told virtually everyone who sought help that they were stupid and that all their problems with American Express were their own fault.  These people made it very clear that there were no victims except in their own minds, American Express could do no wrong.  

The players:

The nastiest two:

One Great Rep, aka OneGreatMoronOfARep, OneDudOfARep
Facts, aka FactsLESS, LogicLESS, Amex, Guest, Everyone, Jazz, Realitycheck, jackass, ace, brawn, rjsucks, Remote. and scores of other aliases.

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The  saga of Amex's failure to understand public relations continues.  Amex has had the opportunity over several years to use the nonprofit site www.ameXsuX.com to improve their business.  But that does not seem to be the American Express way.  

But instead there were numerous screen names hyping Amex on the site who would bully and chase off anyone who visited the site with complaints about the company.  These posters became so obnoxious that their IP was blocked.  Perhaps a month later Amex filed a claim with ICANN to take the domains www.ameXsuX.com and www.AmexSUCKS.com .

Perhaps there is another explaination.  Reasonable people cannot help but wonder if American Express tried to disrupt www.ameXsuX.com, and when that failed they then tried to take the trademark ameXsux and the associated domain names.  

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Have an American Express complaint??  Well here is a great Amex contact.  I am sure that in her position that she is well aware that and ever increasing number of people think that American Express really SUCKs.

Dianne K. Cahill
Senior Manager, Legal Affairs
American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
American Express Company
200 Vesey Street, 49th floor
New York, NY  10285 (USA)
Telephone: 212-640-4588
Fax: 212-640-0361
dianne.k.cahill@aexp.com

 

! ! DO LEAVE HOME WITHOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS ! !

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