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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

American Express credit line reduction program - how not to do business

The following e-mail is going out today to American Express CEO Mr. Kenneth Chenault. Please feel free to sound off if you had similar experiences.

Dear Mr. Chenault,

American Express had recently reduced credit lines for a number of customers. I believe that in many cases this was done indiscriminately and without much consideration as to what this would do to your future customer relationship.

I have been an AmEx customer for ten years. I have not missed a bill - not just an AmEx payment but any bill - in nearly fifteen years. I have consolidated my debt down to two credit cards (AmEx Blue being one of them), and have been paying them off diligently. I actually did not intend to start using my American Express card, until I was contacted last year and told that if I didn't start using it again, I could lose it. American Express repaid me by cutting my credit line in half.

When I contacted AmEx customer service, I discovered that the decision was based on the income information from ten years ago. Your company didn't even bother to contact me to verify whether all this information was accurate before cutting my credit line. It was my responsibility to correct the error that was not mine. Ok, fine, it happens. I provided my income information, as well as information on all my other accounts, including my net worth, which is, incidentally, positive. How many people have positive net worth these days. Apparently, that was not sufficient to prove that I was not a high risk customer and deserved a higher credit line.

The last excuse for the credit line reduction was my high debt-to-credit ratio. First of all, part of the ratio was created by American Express by reducing the credit line. So, essentially, what customer service was telling me was, "Yes, we created this problem for you and made it worse, but it's your fault anyway." The representatives actually had the audacity to use against me the fact that I have a mortgage and a car loan (instead of considering the fact that I would not have gotten either of those with poor credit), ignoring the fact that I have a fourteen thousand dollar equity line of credit (which is completely paid off), a six thousand dollar annuity, and other investments.

Prior to this incident, I intended to consolidate my remaining debt with American Express. Your company could have made hundreds of dollars in interest from my account. Under the circumstances, however, my intention is to pay off this card within the next six months, close this account and never do business with American Express again, because clearly your company does not want me as a customer. In addition to my full-time job, I am also a published author with dozens of readers and blog subscribers. I intend to use this network to spread the word about how your company treats responsible and loyal customers.

While I honestly do not see how you could rescue the business relationship with me, I strongly advise that you re-consider the guidelines for this credit-line reduction program before you lose more customers and do further damage to your company's reputation.


Maria I. Kuroshchepova

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