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Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Are financial services companies planning to screw over their most affluent customers as a result of the recent credit card legislation?

In October 2008, I wrote in these paragraphs:

Take a gander at this paragraph from a Wall Street Journal story by Robin Sidel on Oct. 20, 2008:

“AmEx recently slapped a $1,100-a-month spending limit on John and Monica Bell's platinum AmEx charge card. The reason: AmEx customers who pay with plastic at the same places where Mrs. Bell shops and have the same mortgage lender have poor repayment histories, according to a letter sent by AmEx.”

The couple pays $450 a year for the card—which promises "no pre-set spending limit." The couple routinely spent $5,000 a month—that's $60,000 a year—and has never been late with a payment.

If the data goons are allowed to start treating blue-ribbon American Express Platinum Cardmembers like chronic deadbeats, what will happen to the rest of us?

AmEx CEO Ken Chenault was punished for his perfidy. In the first quarter of 2009, his customers reduced spending by 16% and his net was down 55%.

On May 19, AmEx announced it would ax 4,000 employees (on top of the 7,000 canned last October) and scramble to cut $800 million in expenses.

A personal note to Ken Chenault, Visa, MasterCard, et al: When you allow bean counters and data analysts to make marketing decisions, you'll be punished.

Now is the time to study the masters of customer relationship magic.

And a good place to start is with Annemarie Victory.

When my wife, Peggy, and I moved to Philadelphia in 1992, we rented a small, two-bedroom condo in center city and spent nine months looking for a place to buy. Astonishingly, our house in Stamford, Conn., sold in six weeks, and we banked the cash.

After looking at 40 or 50 homes in the city, we walked into a fixer-upper just off Rabelaisian South Street—an 1817 brick row house of five stories with a large backyard and unfinished roof deck that offered a splendid view of the city. We didn't even negotiate, and Fred Glick arranged the mortgage.

My step-brother, architect David Elwell, drew up plans for the renovation, and we found a world-class contractor named Arthur Willson to gut the place and turn it into our dream home. We continued to live in the rented pad until 1994, when the new house was ready, all the while paying lordly sums to Willson out of the money we made on the house in Stamford.

Throughout the process, we assumed we'd take a loss if ever we sold it. But hey, we were not in this for money. This was to be home, presumably for a long time.

I guess what truly galls me about the subprime mess is the number of whining home buyers who allowed some sharpie to sell them McMansions at the top of the market with adjustable rate mortgages they could never afford, only to discover that the sum of their monthly payments was more than the value of the house in the current market.

Here’s a fascinating story about a house and its owners.

Look at the magnificent work of British novelist Patrick O’Brian. In 1991, at age 75 with nine years to live, he hit literature’s equivalent of the Powerball multimillion-dollar jackpot. Did it change his simple, 19th century lifestyle? Hardly one iota.

What’s more, the value of his house tanked.

Over the past month, I downloaded a boatload of material on the current financial mess for my archive. One story haunted me--the surreal tale of AIG's chief executive officer, Robert Willumstad, who thought he only needed $20 billion to get out of a hole.

Four days later--after a series of reports--he discovered the tab was really $80 billion.

How can a supposedly hands-on, competent CEO misplace $60 billion?

That's $60 billion with a B!

Doing business with the little guy is probably a good idea Oct. 4, 2005: Vol. 1, Issue #36 IN THE NEWS With his father, W. K. Swan, Ken Swan was the creator of discovery cruising. From the early 1950s, Swan Hellenic offered excursions, led by scholars, diplomats, clerics or naturalists, to historical and archaeological sites-initially around the Mediterranean, and, after 1980, farther afield. --"Ken Swan, OBE, former managing director of Swan Hellenic, was born on April 3, 1919. He died on Aug. 21, 2005, aged 86." The Times of London, Sept. 30, 2005 Chuck Williams, who turns 90 on Sunday,

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