Monday, March 31, 2008

disgruntled, u.s.a.

hello friends and neighbors. i'm here to tell you never to open a credit card with american express. specifically, never get the jet blue card with american express that supposedly lets you earn jet blue points. the whole point system is a croc (right now you're saying "duh" and i'm saying "i know, i know") but that's not the big problem; the big problem is that they'll screw you six different ways from sunday. they'll screw you worse than j.p. morgan chase, and that takes some doing.

perhaps right now you're saying to yourself, ok, this girl got herself into some trouble with her credit card, and now she wants to blame the credit card company instead of herself for her irresponsible spending. but oh no poppets, those days are long gone. once was the time where i was wallowing in debt and only paying minimum payments, going over my limit and paying crazy overlimit fees and 23% interest rates. and while it was borne out of necessity, it was entirely my own doing. but these days i'm solidly in the black. my student loans are completely paid off, even. and my FICO scores are startlingly close to 800. i've done my homework and cleaned up my act, and over the past 12 years have held probably 8 different credit cards. so i feel that i know what i'm talking about when i say that this particular credit establishment is up to something unsavory, and you would do best to stay far, far away from it.

want details? observe.

i was having a very confusing and frustrating problem, so i decided to send an email to try to figure it out. this is my original inquiry. granted, a bit grumpy, but asking a specific question:
03/10/2008 08:04 AM
I am NOT asking whether or not you received my payment, but you don't have an option that has anything to do with my question. I have an outstanding balance of over $1000 on my card, and the items were charged over two weeks ago. However, for some reason the online system would not let me pay any amount over the outstanding balance from my previous statement, just barely over seven dollars. I do NOT intend on paying finance charges just because of a poorly set up website. By the way, of all of the credit card and bank account websites that I deal with, this one is absolutely the least helpful and most
difficult to use. Could you please pass that along to someone? Anyway, why in the world is AmEx rejecting my money?

their response
03/10/2008 09:46 AM
Dear customer: Thank you for your e-mail. Please accept my sincere apology for the inconvenience this matter has caused to you. Per your concern I have reviewed you account and determined that we have received a payment in the amount of $7.92. It will be posted to your account within 24 to 48 hours. Also, please know that the system does not allow making any further payment till the time the pending payment is posted to your account. This is a security feature to prevent your Card from any fraudulent activity and to avoid duplication of the payment.For your convenience, I have listed the procedure for making an online payment for the unbilled balance:
- Log in to your account and click on the "Pay Bill" hyperlink on the "Account Summary" page.
- Select the Card account for which the payment is to be made.
- Select the appropriate option* from under the heading "Payment Amount"
- Enter the amount (if other amount selected) and press continue.
Further, if you still encounter any difficulty on our website, I request you to contact our American Express Online Services at 1-800-297-1234 (24 hours/7 days) and a representative will be glad to assist you. From outside the United States, please call us collect at 1-336-393-1111. If our Pay by Computer feature on your American Express online services is not available, you may make your payment using our Pay By Phone system by calling 1-800-472-9297 (24 hours/7 days). From outside the US, please call collect at 1-336-393-1111. Pay by Phone uses your same banking information that is used for the Pay by Computer feature of our online services. Your remittance will post to your American Express account within 48 hours. I hope this does not cause you any further inconvenience. We welcome you to our brand and wish to serve you for many more years to come.
Sincerely, S.Khare
Email Servicing Team American Express Interactive Services

we welcome you to our brand. i love that. um, what? and so, my response to that non-answer, angry:
03/10/2008 10:59 AM
I KNOW HOW TO MAKE AN ONLINE PAYMENT. I do it every month and I am not an imbecile. Furthermore, the only reason that I made the payment of $7.92 was that the online payment system would not allow me to make a payment for more. The email that I have already sent clearly stated as much; did you read it? I wanted to make a payment of $450. I was told that I could not make that payment, despite the fact that my current outstanding balance is over $1000. My question, for the second time, is WHY COULD I NOT MAKE THAT PAYMENT? Could you please answer the question that I'm asking you?

their second response:
03/10/2008 01:18 PM
Dear customer: Thank you again for your e-mail. Please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience you have experienced while making a payment online. I can imagine how frustrating it could be and truly understand your concern regarding this matter. Please know that due to technical reasons you were unable to make the payment for more then amount due. However, please know that you will be able to make the payment now once the 24 to 48 hours timeframe for the last payment made is over. Once again, we apologize for the unpleasant experience and hope to serve you efficiently in future. If there is any other way we may be of assistance, please contact us.
Email Servicing Team
American Express Interactive Services

this, of course, a) did not answer my original question other than to say that it was due to "technical reasons" - not an answer in my book - and b) was completely incorrect information. i was NOT able to make a payment on the rest of my outstanding balance 24 to 48 hours after the last payment.

so i called. and some things were explained to me. and i thought everything was alright... until i went to pay my bill (when i was FINALLY allowed to) on saturday. and so, my farewell email (i thought):
03/29/2008 11:49 PM
Dear American Express, getting a credit card with your establishment was an ENORMOUS mistake. I can see that now. I have been trying to pay the balance on my card for three solid weeks, but have not been allowed to. I tried to find out why this was happening by sending emails, twice. And twice I got the most ridiculous and unhelpful answers possible, indicating that no one was even reading my emails and that I certainly was not going to get an answer to my question. So then I called. And it was explained to me that while I couldn't make a payment on the balance until that billing cycle had ended (which is a bizarre practice not followed by any other credit card company), I would not be charged interest or finance charges on the balance. I was PROMISED that I would not be penalized for the balance on which I was literally not allowed to pay. And yet, lo and behold, when I went to pay my bill today (just three days into the new billing cycle), I've been charged finance charges! So, in conclusion, here is what I would like you to know:
1) I do NOT appreciate being flat out LIED TO by your "customer service" department after being ignored and having my questions go unanswered by them.
2) I am canceling this card the minute my payment goes through and the balance is zero.
3) I regret ever getting this card and will advise everyone I currently know and everyone I ever meet against ever doing business with your company. If there was any way at all to sue you for usury, I surely would.

thinking i would simply wait until probably tuesday for the payment to be processed, and then call up and cancel the damn card, i was semi-surprised to find this email in my "inbox" in their crap-ass website:
03/30/2008 02:03 PM
Dear customer:
Thank you for contacting American Express.
Please accept my sincere apologies for the ongoing issue and for the unfavorable impression you received due to this instance. We appreciate you advising us of the reason for your discontentment. Considering the inconvenience and disappointment this dealing has caused you and as a more tangible expression of our concern over this issue, I have issued credit in the amount of $30.00 to your account. I do understand that this amount, in no way, compensates for the experience you have had. Please note that the credit will reflect in an upcoming statement. Additionally, I have issued in the amount of $6.53 against the finance charge that was assessed in your account in the month of March 2008 statement.

You can be assured that we are interested in your feedback on this matter. For that reason, I have forwarded your comments to our management team for their review. Feedback, no matter how critical, is an important part of our process in improving all of our services, and we appreciate the time and effort you have taken to help us enhance your customer experience. We welcome any inquiry or concern you may have regarding your account and assure you that addressing and resolving your concerns are our priority and will be attended to at the earliest possible.

I wish to assure you that you are a Valued Cardmember and we are sensitive your concerns. Additionally, we appreciate your Cardmembership since 2007.

R. Prasad

see what the bastards did there? since i had paid the previous balance in full, i now have a negative balance on the card. which means i can't simply cancel it; i have to deal with the negative balance first. which is never the easiest task. and don't think for one second that they didn't do that shit on purpose, because i promise you that they did.

the moral of this little story is that, while all credit card companies suck major ass and are out to screw you and take as much money from you as possible, most will allow you to act responsibly if you want to. the fact that i wanted to pay against my balance and wasn't allowed to really, really irked me. but i was willing to let it slide, with the stipulation that i really wasn't being punished for it. but i was. and in my book, that is unforgivable. so they can take their card and shove it; if they think i'm ever using it again they're out of their minds. i only use cards when i know that i can pay them off within the week. i use them for convenience; checks take forever and you usually can't send them over the internet. it's also good to have a healthy credit life in the eyes of the great FICO scorekeepers in the sky. but AmEx does not allow me to pay off what i spend, so they are of no use to me whatever.

please learn from my mistakes. take any credit card offer you receive from american express and tear it into tiny little pieces. then set them on fire. then flush the ashes down the toilet. then call them up and tell them you don't appreciate them soiling your home with such drek. if it's an email, reply with venomous hatred as if they'd just offered to buy your firstborn child. it's not an overreaction, i promise.

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