Ritz-Carlton

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.

I was watching the second game of the World Series last week when, in the bottom of the fourth, Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole second base on Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. He had a great jump and did not draw a throw from the catcher. I didn’t think much about it until it was announced that everybody in America was entitled to a free taco from Taco Bell (retail value, 77¢) under its promotion, “Steal a Base; Steal a Taco.” That got my attention. The idea that 200 million people could show up at Taco Bells across the country and the chain

The Rip-off vs. a Ripping Good Time March 16, 2006: Vol. 2, Issue No. 21 IN THE NEWS Resort Fees: Hotel Rate May Not Include All the Charges Hotel resort fees are making a comeback. With the decline in the lodging industry after 9/11, the fees, which cover everything from the use of a pool to housekeeping tips, began to vanish—if not from hotels' policies, then from guests' bills. A polite complaint was usually all it took to have a fee waived. No longer. —Christopher Elliott, The New York Times, March 12, 2006 When Don Jackson and I sat down at his kitchen

More Blogs