American Express / their site downtime, your penalties and fees
After years of not missing a credit card payment deadline, I missed one on my new American Express Corporate card. I was signed up for electronic vs. paper notification. I attempted repeatedly to pay online, 01/12, 01/14, 01/18. 01/19, 01/20. The American Express site was down, and I could not review my bill. The amount due in the notification email was different than the amount due on the telephonic "pay your bill", so I wanted to understand the difference before making payment. When I finally got a hold of a person on the 20th and had access to the website, I was able to get my questions answered, understand the bill, and make a full payment.
However, I was forced to pay a penalty, and began incurring daily finance charges. I tried to make a full balance payment to eliminate the daily finance charges on 01/31 and 01/05 but the site was down. Once again, I finally got a hold of a person on 01/06, and although the site was down, I was able to make a payment based on our discussion that cleared all the balance, interest, and penalties.
American Express wants to save money by using paperless billing. They therefore incur an obligation to keep the site up the vast majority of the time. The site's repeated outage is more than an inconvenience; I have the right to know what I am paying for and ensure the accuracy of the bill before making payment. However, the company threw the liability of timely payment back on me stating that I could have called an operator; I did not need access to my account to make a payment.
Note that the other financial institutions I do business with, ING and USAA Bank, had no know outages during the same period. Over the past year I have worked with them in a paperless billing relationship, there have not been any unscheduled site outages.
AMEX is responsible for maintaining access to their site. This is not a profit opportunity; their downtime is their liability, not the consumers. They should be compensating the business that patronize them for repeated site outages.
Therefore I am dropping AMEX Corporate as too unreliable of service to maintain a banking relationship with. Began incurring penalties, $59 fine. AMEX reversed the late payment fee, but was not concerned about the site access issues I raised. They did not deny the site was down, but stated that it was "not their problem".
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