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American Express / unfair business practices

1 VA, United States Review updated:
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I thought when I first wrote the title to this post that it might be a bit harsh - but no, I think it’s right on target. Up until recently I was a very devoted American Express Customer. I had my personal Platinum card, and through their “Open” small business program I had a Blue card (revolving credit) and a Standard Gold card for travel/expenses.

I used them extensively for about 9 months. Running between $4k and $8k a month through them. (Of course AmEx making 3-5% on each purchase, right?) I bragged about them, I told many people how glad I was to have signed up for the program. And then the hammer dropped. As (what I’m assuming) a part of the consumer credit crunch, AmEx has been tightening the reigns of who is and isn’t WORTHY of their patronage.

A few times they told me I had gone “out of my usual spending pattern” and they suspended my card. (I charge airfare, hotels, auto rental, and the occasional peice of equipment to that card - always when it’s billable to my customers). I was concerned, but tried to chalk it up to “they’re protecting me.”

Then the worst case happens. A customer slow-pays me (you know who you are, don’t make me publish your name) and a pre-arranged payment to AmEx (through their website) bounces. First time I’m even so much as being late on the card, I call them immediately and explain the situation to someone who was nice albeit in hindsight quite clueless. They tell me that it’s no problem, that as soon as the payment is made my account will be in good standing and that I can continue to use it. I log into the website and it tells me that my charging ability is suspended.

Two days later the payment comes in - I *IMMEDIATELY* go to www.americanexpress.com and schedule the payment. Within seconds of making the payment (probably immediately afterwards) the website updates that my accounts are CANCELED. I call in - speak to a Mrs. Dodi who explains that it’s automatic after a payment is returned and that in 24 hours (after the payment has debited from my account I’m assuming) we can go back in and re-activate the account. I guess this is designed to keep me from going to my bank and having them disallow the $6, 000 payment I had just made to them.

I call back - I’m immediately told by Mrs. Dodi that there is nothing she can do, that the account is irrevocably closed and that there is no appeal process. I explain the situation, I was traveling at the time and had no way to pay the hotel/car that I had out. The long and the short of it - American Express has put me out of business. Without mercy, without so much as an “I’m sorry.” they have bankrupted me. The money I spent building my business is gone for good, my investment tanked completely.

So my advice to you - if you’re considering American Express for your small business finances - DON’T. They will suck you in, get you to depend on them, and then turn on you the first time you have a spot of trouble.

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Comments

  • Pa
      10th of Oct, 2008
    0 Votes

    I established my Amex Blue card in February of 2006. Since that time I've spent over $350, 000 on the card paying it off typically within 20 - 30 days. I'm lucky if I accumulated $150 of interest due on a monthly basis. Completely out of the blue - with no explanation whatsover they dropped my available credit in half. They based this information on what they said was on my credit report. Interestingly enough - my credit was clean. Next thing I know - I paid off the card in full as I typically do and went to a business luncheon meeting. Lo and behold . . . . card declined. They cancelled the card the minute that my balance was paid in full. No explanation - no apologies. Nothing. Again they based it upon what my credit report was stating.

    I told them where they could put their card and applied for a Capital One the next day. Til the day I die I will bash and discredit American Express. I now place all my expenses . . . on Capital One.

  • Ka
      30th of May, 2011
    0 Votes

    I'm not a "power" user of AmEx, but I still think we are being treated unfairly. I have stellar credit, numbers in the 800's. We signed up for AmEx with our CostCo membership and apparently checked a box that allows them to e-mail our statements vs. sending snail mail. Since I pay the bills, not my hubby, I never see the statements, so we've missed step a couple of times just by days. (We hardly use the card either.) This time, they charged our CostCo membership to the card and we were unaware of this charge, so missed the payment. They raised our interest rate to 27% plus and it will be a negative mark on our credit. Probably partly our fault, but kind of sneaky nontheless.

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