The American Express Mess
Since those days, American Express has gotten huge—65,000 employees and $27 billion in gross revenue annually.
It is also in a bit of trouble.
In the August 1, 2006 Wall Street Journal, Robin Sidel and Anjali Athavaley wrote:
As part of a sweeping overhaul of its cardholder rewards programs, American Express Co. will no longer give its customers double rewards points when they use plastic for “everyday spending” at supermarkets, drug stores and gas stations.
The move is one of a number of changes being announced today to American Express’s Membership Rewards program, one of the card industry’s most successful plans aimed at building customer loyalty. Other changes include a new double-points program to encourage online shopping at certain retailers, the elimination of a free rewards program on some of its cards and a new insurance plan that will reimburse certain cardholders who miss concerts, plays or sporting events if they purchased their tickets with an American Express card.
One of the changes American Express made was to cease allowing us to transfer rewards points into the US Airways Dividend Miles program, which was a total bummer for Peggy and myself. US Airways has 60% of the traffic at Philadelphia Airport, which is 20 minutes from our house. We fly everywhere on US Airways.
For a number of years we used the American Express Card exclusively for all our personal and business travel and entertaining in order to pile up US Air Miles.
When we got the notice that our AmEx charges were no longer good for US Airways miles, we got a US Airways credit card and went cold turkey with American Express, downgrading from Platinum to Gold.
Astonishingly, I never heard from American Express. After being a member since 1964 and going from spending $3,000 to $5,000 a month down to nothing—zero, zip, nada—you’d think a red flag would pop up somewhere in the corporation and we would get a letter, phone call or e-mail asking why we had stopped using the card and if a problem existed.