Call AmEx To Negotiate Payment Plan, Get A Stern Lecture Instead

Sophie did what any good Consumerist struggling with credit card debt would do. She called up her lender, American Express, and asked if they would be able to help her with some kind of payment plan before she missed any payments. knows that some credit card companies are currently happy to negotiate when struggling customers call them up, since a customer making lower payments is better than a customer missing payments, or not making any payments at all. Right?

I recently had the great pleasure of dealing with American Express’ Payment Plan department. Let me admit first that I am terribly in debt. I have been living beyond my means. HOWEVER, I should say that I have NEVER missed a payment on ANY of my accounts whether credit, store, education loans or otherwise; my accounts have always been in good standing. However, like many people, my financial bubble burst as well, and it came to a point where I realized I was going to start missing payments if I did not negotiate some sort of payment plan with my lenders.

Being the novice that I am, I simply thought that you could call a creditor, tell them you were happy to cancel your account, and then they would help you set up a payment plan. In my mind, that would be better for everybody than missing payments or not paying your bills for over 60 days, right? WRONG. As I have come to learn, nobody wants to do a thing for you until you are not only in debt but royally screwed. But even better than this realization was the fantastic conversation I had with a customer service rep at Amex. In hindsight, a tape recorder would have been handy. I called, preemptively (as in, before I started missing my payments on purpose), and asked if they could help.

The initial response: “no”. Well, I said, I’m experiencing financial hardship because I’m not earning enough at my current job. Then we do a financial analysis: she asks me how much I make, what my bills are like, et cetera. Then she says that it looks like I am upside down at least $400 for the coming month. Curious, I point out, how that was around the same amount that I was attempting to negotiate down from paying on a monthly basis to Amex. Well, she continues to say, I can’t help you because you don’t have enough money to cover your bills. Strange, I say, because that’s why I was calling you (and my two other credit card companies).

We went around in circles like this for about 5 minutes. At that point, I started to become a little frustrated. Okay, she says, I can put you on $250 in payments, lower the interest to 0% for the first 6 months and 9.99% for 6 months after that. Wow, I say, that would be great, the only problem is $250 is what I pay NOW and I can’t afford it, could we make the payments perhaps a little lower. No, she says, that’s the minimum (I learned later that it’s not).

I started to get a little emotional. I told her that I didn’t understand why I had to become delinquent on my account for them to offer me a better payment plan but since I realized this is what I must do, so be it. She then flew into a rage stating:

-This is YOUR fault that you are in this situation
-How DARE you ask American Express to shoulder your responsibilities
-Maybe if you didn’t spend money you didn’t have you wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with
-This is AMERICAN EXPRESS’ MONEY YOU’RE ASKING FOR

*Ahem* Thanks mom. I told her it was unprofessional to speak to me in such a way, blah blah blah and hung up the phone. Flash forward to three months later of me NOT paying them, and lo and behold that “$250 minimum” doesn’t exist anymore.

I find it fascinating that somehow me asking a company I’ve been overpaying since 2005 for help is so daring and irresponsible. Furthermore, is it not true that anything they make on top of what I’m actually paying them back for borrowing is simply profit??!

Anyway, that’s my story. I am in the process of approaching Citibank and Bank of America for the same thing but, again, I’m either told “You’re in between billing cycles so I can’t help you” or “You’re current on all your payments, what’s the problem?”. The problem is I’m paying an unnecessary 29.99% interest rate on both those cards which means that even if I pay $50 over my minimum the balance doesn’t shift because of finance charges. So, at the beginning of every billing cycle I’m effectively back where I started. I know it’s my fault I’m in this mess but a little help in good faith would be nice considering I’ve always been a very good customer.

But I suppose that’s not what matters anymore.

No, foresight and planning ahead financially are not valued traits in credit card land.

RELATED:
Banks Are ‘Quietly’ Negotiating Credit Card Debt, WashPo Says
Credit Card Companies Are Warming Up To Reduced Payoff Deals

Comments

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  1. Sparty999 says:

    call greenpath financial… they actually help you, their not the ones who promise to pay off your debts in less than a year…

    • Draygonia says:

      Or, since the OP didn’t talk with them for 3 months and they had a good time with her credit, she should just tell them to go screw themselves and they can write it off.

      • koalabare says:

        A charge-off looks about a thousant times worse than a 90 day late.

        • Bob says:

          A bankruptcy looks worse, but since American Express is such a jackass about personal credit card accounts I expected no less of an attitude from Amex than what this OP got. I will NEVER EVER again get a personal credit card account with these high and mighty customer service reps. The moment you get laid off is the moment that you are considered a “deadbeat” in their eyes.

          I have a corp account with Amex now and the difference is night and day. Since Amex doesn’t really want to deal with personal credit accounts in a reasonable manner why don’t we oblige them and we all cancel our personal Amex cards and leave them to do corporate accounts, which they like to service.

    • Karita says:

      Care One Credit is great, too. They got most of my interest rates down to about 2%, from the close to 30% I was paying before. They’re for-profit, but I’ve been extremely happy over the past year and a half. CCCS, is, I believe, a nonprofit that also has a good reputation. I chose Care One because I could do almost everything online.

    • Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

      I highly recommend Greenpath. They got me 100% out of debt, lowering most of my interest payments (all on dumb debt) to 1% or lower. I also suggested a friend of mine use them and she received excellent results as well.

  2. blag says:

    THREE maxed out, overdue credit card bills??? This woman needs a serious change in lifestyle and priorities.

    Lecture needed.

    • drizzt380 says:

      You mean the lecture about how she is living beyond her means, is about to be delinquent on payments, and needs to figure something out? That lecture? The one about the exact things she already mentioned?

      What is a lecture to you? Is it a punitive measure? A punishment? Or is it about trying to get someone to change their ways and see why they are getting a lecture? If its the latter, then she already sees the light and doesn’t need a lecture. If its the former, I hope you realize lecturing someone about something they already know just tends to piss them off/feel like they are getting kicked when they are down. And neither of those are exactly helpful.

      • jessjj347 says:

        And I hope you understand that hearing that you should make a responsible change from someone else will piss you off, but in the end they’re still correct and trying to get you to see things differently. The OP doesn’t seem to want to change her lifestyle, so she needs some encouragement to. The CSR shouldn’t have gotten angry (went about the “lecture” in the wrong way), however, in the end it will only help her to hear from other people that she has to change.

        • Zeratul010 says:

          Right, because the admission that she’s been living beyond her means, and is trying to renegotiate her payment plans to stay on top of them means she’s totally clueless that she screwed up.

          And even if that weren’t the case, it’s unprofessional and rude to rant at a customer. You call a company to do business, not get judged on personal defects. It’s the equivalent of being told you’re a fat tub of lard when you go into McDonalds, or your ISP telling you that you spend too much time surfing worthless sites. They may be right, but it’s not their place to say as much.

          • Doughbuy says:

            You’re right, not the companies place to lecture the women. I’m sure AMEX doesn’t want their CSR’s to lecture their customers, just minimize call time, but the CSR agent herself probably had so much disgust at the women that she started lecturing. As one human being to another. Definietly unprofessional, but if I hear someone complaining about being in debt due to living above their means, they have no one to blame but themselves. And if the whole world conspires against them, so be it.

            But I’m an engineer with a nice-paying job so I don’t know what these people go through either…

            • Echo5Joker says:

              There used to be a lot of well-paid engineers in my town, before people stopped buying airplanes. Now, we have a lot of formerly well-paid people working in bookstores and “embracing the simple life.”

              The good news is, that means there are a ton of empty houses that need sold sooner rather than later, so those of us who didn’t have the money to live beyond our means (it takes money to get money) and used our money responsibly are about to live the American Dream. All because well-paid engineers paid more than they could afford for their houses.

              And before the chorus of “and the cycle continues” starts up, some of those houses are half what the engineers paid for them now. And, even better, most of those well-paid engineers need money so badly that they’ll go even lower just to sell the thing.

              Yet, there is no local outcry against these people, who had more house, more Mercedes, and more credit cards than they could handle. The outcry is against people like the woman above, who did the same thing but wasn’t, presumably, upper crust. I also live in a very conservative area, so maybe that’s connected somehow….

        • INTPLibrarian says:

          There is absolutely nothing at all in her statements that indicate she isn’t changing her lifestyle. Just because she didn’t list out step-by-step other steps she’s taking means that she ISN’T taking any?

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Where the hell have you been living to make such an indignant comment. There are thousands of folks “living on the edge” and a credit card is the only means to buy food and gas because their employer’s don’t pay shit to live on. Maybe you should think of that before making such a comment. Not everyone with “maxed out cc” are buying Coach handbags.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But that’s clearly not the case here, in which the OP admits that her credit problems are due to her living beyond her means.

        • JulesNoctambule says:

          I’m not saying it’s the case for her, but for some people these days, living beyond their means includes things like buying groceries *and* paying the electric bill every month.

          • dragonfire81 says:

            Amen man. That’s the “american dream” as it exists today.

            • cash_da_pibble says:

              i agree, this country has taught me “the American Dream” is to live off of credit cards and withdrawals out of your immature 401k, and to have a disability that prevents you from working 40 hour weeks.

          • Link_Shinigami says:

            The first step to any problem is admitting there is a problem. Do we look at alcoholics and go “Oh, so now that you admit it you want some help!? Screw you!”, no, we go “Took you long enough, lets keep you sober”.

            I see this as the same thing. She went “Oh crap, I’m on my way to being seriously screwed in the next few months. I have a problem” then she called them thinking they’d go “Great, lets fix this up!”, instead they went “How about you just rack up more fees for us to screw you with?”.

            What I gather from this is that AMEX only cares about one thing, making money. Not the people paying them. I bet if everyone closed and defaulted on AMEX, they’d die and be eaten by another company. Just like that bank a few years ago. Maybe someone should start a stir they are going under like with that bank, y’know, to get the ball rolling. Give AMEX some humility

          • TehLlama says:

            Electricity is optional. I doubt the OP typed all this on a public/library computer.

            The OPs indignance at supposedly getting the same lecture she gave herself from a third party is what strikes me as the true problem.

        • Smashville says:

          Yeah, but when she realizes she needs to make a change and tries to fix it…shouldn’t she be allowed to try to make that change?

      • jmhart says:

        Maybe he’s been living in reality, where bills have to be paid, and when you make an agreement, you are expected to stick to it.

        Clip coupons, eat ramen, cancel cable, and get a second job.

        There is an easy solution to her problems, she just doesn’t want to accept it. Life’s hard, and gets even harder when you make bad decisions. Time to suck it up.

        • Sillyheart says:

          Some of us are having a hard enough time finding a first job.

        • coren says:

          Easy solution, like, live on the street or don’t eat (and don’t give me that just eat ramen shit – that’s horribly unhealthy – financial freedom at the expense of your health is by no means a bargain)? You don’t know her details so how do you know what she can and can’t afford and what she has and hasn’t cut back?

        • Twonkey says:

          My brother had a rough time of it just getting one job recently. He needs another, having recently had his first child with his wife, but being that the first one was hard enough to get, he’s not holding his breath. Oh, he’s still looking, but the chances aren’t too good that he’ll find something any time soon. The job market sucks where the family lives.

          • kennedar says:

            I’m sorry but if things are that tight then perhaps bringing another child into the family was not the wisest choice at this time. I say this as someone who is currently going through infertility and has had to cut everything in our lives to be able to afford to even get pregnant. We still have in excess of $12,000 in the bank that will never be touched for treatments to cover my lost income when we do finally get pregnant. Life’s tough, having a child when you are already struggling is a very poor decision.

    • mac-phisto says:

      way to miss the point. let me go grab my bingo card, i’ll probably need it on this post…

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      RTFA sport. She gave herself the lecture.

    • runswithscissors says:

      Uh, yeah Captain Smug, she has realized this and is changing her lifestyle – hence why she’s reached out to the card companies to get on a plan to fix things.

      Or maybe you couldn’t read the article from way up there on your pedestal?

  3. jeromiahb says:

    I have asked GMAC for lower payments around Christmas time every year and really had no problem with them. The person you were on the phone with was probably having a bad day.

    • Hoss says:

      For credit card debt or a mortgage? I can see a mortgage lender making concessions, but with this kind of overspending on credit she will be in trouble soon anyway

  4. Hoss says:

    It sounds like AmEx hired Suze Orman. $250 as a minimum payment? Well, yah, you overspent just a bit. Imagine having the same conversation w your landlord. Time to find a second or third job

    • Keavy_Rain says:

      If she’s in so deep that $50 over minimum payment does nothing for her balance and she’s $400 upside down every month I’d say her best option is bankruptcy.

    • rekoil says:

      Going by the minimum payment on my last statement, I’m guessing that a $250 minimum payment means she has about a $15K balance on that card. And she has two other cards, per the post. That’s quite a bit of consumer debt she’s rung up here.

  5. HalOfBorg says:

    While it is true that you shouldn’t have done all those things (same as I shouldn’t have) it’s not her place to be lecturing you, especially not with attitude.

    • Hoss says:

      Isn’t it more likely the conversation (not “rage”) went something like this:

      Well look, this is your situation to deal with. Why are you insisting that American Express shoulder your responsibilities? If you didn’t spend money you didn’t have you wouldn’t be in this situation, right? American Express is a business and it’s their revenue that you are asking for

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      If the OP thought the rep was being like her mom, the rep must have been fed up with yet another debt-ridden young person calling to plead and beg for a payment plan because he or she had to have several thousand dollars in stuff right then and there.

      Not saying that the rep should have been so condescending, but at some point, I think some people need to hear the blunt truth: you got yourself into this mess, why are you calling me? The minimum balance to be paid is a payment plan. Many other AmEx cards don’t have this option and you have to pay the full balance (as you should) every month.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        the rep must have been fed up…

        Why should the rep care? Why should they take personal offense to someone else’s problems? Either the rep can help or they can’t.

        I think some people need to hear the blunt truth

        The OP already knows the truth and doesn’t need strangers repeating it to them.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          Some bill collectors are like rabid dogs. They apparently have control issues and are very angry that the only job they could find is sitting on a phone trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. I think some of these people enjoy having a job where they can funnel their inner nastiness and make the world a more miserable place. These people get just a little to emotionally involved at times, and I am guessing that quite a few of them are probably on the verge of being mentally il, beat their wives and girlfriends, or abuse their children.

          Luckily, not all bill collectors are like this. Most of the ones I spoke to were very kind and helpful. They were quite understanding of the fact that I was suffering from a serious illness. They took my BK attorney’s number and left me alone, everyone except Amex that is…. Only one out of quite a few.

  6. adamstew says:

    In my own personal dealings with American Express they were the worst to work with during my own time of financial troubles. In the end, it did end up working out, but they were the least cooperative and i’ll never have an Amex card again because of the experience with them.

    • Boo LaRue says:

      I totally agree with you on this! I recently transfered my AMEX balance to another, more reasonable card. My AMEX account is still open because I’ve always been told not to outright cancel the accounts you no longer use, but the card has since been shredded to bits.

  7. ShruggingGalt says:

    Something isn’t right with this one. First she states that $400 is the amount she is trying to reduce her AMEX payment from, and then she states that she’s only paying $250 a month right now….

    But anyway, AMEX is the most aggressive of the credit cards when it comes to collecting. And they will keep the collection in house as long as possible(even to a BK filing), so the FDCPA won’t apply.

    • obits3 says:

      I saw that too. I think she is saying that her total deficit is $400 (i.e. Revenues – Expenditures = ($400)) She is complaining that her balance will not go down, and the person on the phone offers a 0% interest rate for six and 10% for six after that when her current rate is 30%.

      That is a good deal. What does she want? To make lower payments and see her balance go down? She is trying to fix a short term problem by making the long term worse. Isn’t that what got her into this tight spot in the first place?

      • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

        With the 0% interest, her balance would go down by whatever she paid. 0% is a better deal than temporarily reducing payments.

        • obits3 says:

          That was my point. If they reduce the payments, then she will just be in a bigger hole later. The 0% deal would have allowed her to reduce her minimum payments in the future by reducing the balance over 6 months.

          • Doubts42 says:

            But the 0% was likely tied to the $250.00 a month payments. she misses one of those payments and she is back to 29.99% with extra fees added on.

        • INTPLibrarian says:

          It’s a better deal in the long run, but if she can’t make the minimum payments it doesn’t really matter. You could offer me a choice of a bajillion dollar house for only a thousand dollars or a fifty dollar shack for one hundred dollars. It doesn’t really matter how great the first deal is if I only have $101 and need a place to live.

      • coren says:

        If she could afford to make the payment it’d be great – but since she is in the hole 400 bucks a month, she’d need a negative rate to really be effective.

    • coren says:

      No, she’s upside down at least 400 (as in she’ll owe at least 400 more than she makes) – this is including the 250 she owes to Amex, her other credit cards, student loans, etc. That’s a ton of debt.

  8. DanRydell says:

    “is it not true that anything they make on top of what I’m actually paying them back for borrowing is simply profit??!”

    No! Interest rates are based on risk – risk that you will not pay back your loan. If you only look at your account, that extra money looks like profit (disregarding the time value of money). If you look at the big picture, that revenue is offset by significant expenses from people who don’t pay back their loans.

  9. grucifer says:

    I had the same problem with student loans and wells fargo. Straight up called them and told them I was struggling and they said there wasn’t any thing they could do for me.

    Still struggling to catch up on that one, but I’m working on it. These last 2 years have been hell on my credit score. :-(

    Back to work now though, so I’m working on it. I wasn’t left with much choice for awhile there. I knew other CC companies wouldn’t work with me either so I ignored them too. Now they send ME letters saying they thought I was an “up-standing person” who would pay (which I would, if I had had the money!) Not my fault they wouldn’t work with me until after I was late 60 days, now they can piss off and get their money when I get around to giving it to them.

    • dizzy says:

      Same here, regarding student loans. I get so depressed over it because for me, being in debt has nothing to do with living above my means (unless you consider continuing to live when you have no means as that, which I suppose technically it is?) but I graduated college with 30k in student loans then struggled to find a job for the next two years. Temp work kept my phone on (some of the time) and the generosity of friends kept a roof over my head (most of the time) but it wasn’t going to get those student loans paid and after a year they stopped wanting to negotiate and just started threatening.

      Now I have a job and I’m gonna start making payments but hey, if they weren’t going to work with me, I feel little guilt about prioritizing other things (getting an apartment, and a vehicle) over paying off loans.

      • TehLlama says:

        Why? I’m all for paying off financial obligations as a matter of personal trust, but food, a place to live, and a means of getting to a job where you make money to pay them rightfully should come first.

  10. eccsame says:

    Amex can’t pay the phone bill with excuses

    • ARP says:

      She’s not making any excuses. If you’ll notice the following:

      1) She is not late yet. She’s trying to prevent delinquency by paying less than minimum.
      2) She gets it. She went beyond her means. She’s trying to do the right thing. That was the first few lines.
      3) She wants to pay them off, just at a reduced rate and over more time. In fact this would be BETTER for them since she’ll end up paying more. This is especially true if she is as reliable as she says.
      4) The other alternative is bankruptcy where AmEx gets pennies on the dollar.

      • anime_runs_my_life says:

        Depending on how she files. If she files Chapter 13, then yes, it can be pennies on the dollar. If she files Chapter 7, AmEx won’t see squat.

  11. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    It would be interesting to know how much is owed to American Express, what is the percentage of utilization, and what is the overall credit shape of the letter writer?

    If she owes a few thousand, then a $250/month repayment plan is probably reasonable under the discussed bargain. If she owes $20,000 on a maxed out card, then I can see why American Express would be hesitant to give her a 0% loan, while making minuscule payments towards principal. It’s definitely a frustrating situation to be in, especially when they’re only willing to truly negotiate once you are past due. But in the end, the goal of AmEx is to be a hard ass and have you negotiate with your other creditors.

    • failurate says:

      Being a hard ass is a quick and easy way of getting paid last or not at all.
      When the feeding frenzy starts, you get in quick and take as many bites as you can, no matter how small. You don’t sit around and pout with your mean face on demanding a bigger chunk.

      • failurate says:

        Unless of course your goal is to force defaults so that you can qualify for some sort of insurance or tax benefit.

        Really these large credit companies are in a win win situations. They can profit by hammering their customers into submission taking everything they can, or they can profit or at least break even by getting nothing from their customer. Love the age of private profits, public risk.

  12. rpm773 says:

    The OP needs to look at what she’s bringing up to bat here. She’s got a good credit history, she’s current on all her payments, and she still has income. She’s asking Amex, Bank of America, and Citibank as to who’d be willing to accept a reduced installment payment. It’s not surprising that none of them are falling over themselves to accept such an offer.

    Aside from that, the AMEX CSR’s tone was nasty. But that’s the least of the OP’s problems

    • mac-phisto says:

      exactly. this is like trying to talk a seller down from $100 to $50 on a purchase while you’re waving $100 bill in their face the whole time.

      unfortunately, about the only thing you can do is wait them out (like the OP did). stop paying for 2 or more months & see how their attitude changes (just don’t let it go over 6 months – that’s charge-off territory & you won’t get any help once a loan charges off). will it hurt your credit? yes. but seriously – if your screwed to the wall with debt, why the hell do you care about your credit score?

  13. jmhart says:

    Sounds to me like this woman is just another self-entitled person with no sense of personal responsibility.

    As someone else said: lecture was needed.

    After all, wasn’t she asking Amex to bend the terms of the contract which she signed voluntarily?!?!

    I would type so much more I wasn’t on my mobile. OP, this was all on you.

    Get a second job, move to a one bd/ba Apartment, and sell your bigscreen on CL!!!

    • ARP says:

      I should just make this a form response

      1) She is not late yet. She’s trying to prevent delinquency by paying less than minimum. She’s trying to do the right thing.
      2) She gets it. She went beyond her means. She’s trying to do the right thing. That was the first few lines. She’s not entitled at all since she is trying to pay off all her debt. She didn’t even ask for a reduced rate at first, but since they offered, she tried to accept. So she’s paying as much as any other person would. Where is the entitlement?
      3) She wants to pay them off, just at a reduced min. payment and over more time. In fact this would be BETTER for them since she’ll end up paying more. This is especially true if she is as reliable as she says.
      4) The other alternative is bankruptcy where AmEx gets pennies on the dollar.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        From the article, it does sound she is currently late:

        “Flash forward to three months later of me NOT paying them, and lo and behold that “$250 minimum” doesn’t exist anymore. “

        • coren says:

          True but when she was talking to them, she wasn’t, so lecturing her about being late when it was the only way to get Amex to do what she needed is pointless.

      • jmhart says:

        1) The right thing is to pay her minimum payment AS SHE AGREED.
        2) She didn’t ask for a reduced rate? The story reads that she called Amex and asked for a Payment Plan….Uh, a payment plan is either a reduced rate, a reduced minimum payment, or both….therefore, she called and asked Amex for a reduced rate. She felt they owed it to her since she’d “been overpaying” all those years…first off, I’m not really sure the OP is aware what “overpaying” means. She was paying what was owed to Amex based on the contract she entered into.
        3) Your statement that it would better for Amex is completely unverifiable. I can neither prove or disprove that(and neither can you) since we do not know the total balance, current APR, and time frame. Therefore, I consider this point in your argument invalid.
        4) Bankruptcy is not the inevitable conclusion.

        I completely understand why Amex wants people to go into deliquency before working something out. If they didn’t do that, every Joe Blow would be calling up with sob story about how they need a reduced rate. She entered into a contract, there are consequences for not meeting the terms of that contract. In this case, her credit should and will take a serious hit.

        To believe that you can call Amex up and offer to pay less, only to save your credit, is an incredible since of entitlement. She brings nothing to the table, and expects everything.

        • coren says:

          If she has no money, how do you suggest she do that? She’s upside down 400 bucks – so how does one magically come up with that cash?

          She asked for a payment plan, which is not a reduced rate unless that’s what they offer her as a plan – if I ask you for a form of transportation and you offer me a car, that doesn’t mean I asked for a car, that means you offered when I asked “can i have some way to get there”

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Yes, because jobs are so plentiful right now. There were 100 extremely overqualified people applying for a part-time position where I work with no benefits. There are a couple of business men working at my regular Starbucks. My friend who has a master’s degree and is bilingual (Spanish–in Texas no less) hasn’t been able to find a teaching position in 3 years and has been subbing all that time, making about $10 an hour before taxes.

      People have been taking pay cuts for a long time now, and many have been laid off. I’m glad that where you live that jobs are so plentiful that no one is struggling and that there are 2 jobs available for every worker.

      Also, she may have a lease on the apartment that you are assuming is too big (it could actually be an efficiency for all you know), if she broke it to get something smaller, it would preclude her from her being able to rent somewhere cheaper and would likely cause her to have to pay a large amount of fees to the landlord whose lease she broke, which she can’t afford.

      • jmhart says:

        Has your friend, the bilingual teacher considered an occupation besides teaching? Sure, maybe he can’t teach while the economy is bad, but he can wait tables, work retail.

        I see lots of retail places hiring. Sure, they don’t pay the salary that your 2005 job did, but they’re a job. Get two retail jobs, work more than 40 hours a week. Be a grown up.

        • smo0 says:

          There IS such a thing as being over qualified…..

          ever hear of that? Probably not because I can tell that YOU’RE not, if this is your “solution” to the problem.

          There are low paying jobs that won’t hire people who have higher education and job experience because at the first sign at a “new opportunity” they’d up and quit.

          I have many relatives being denied jobs because they are over qualified.

          The hiring process is not cheap.

          I got the skinny on Citi’s hiring cost per individual while I worked there…. it cost the company over $10,000 to hire someone. Imagine having to that every 3 months while over qualified people were ditching the jobs for others at their level….. from a business perspective this is bad… from a common sense perspective (which you are obviously lacking) this is bad.

    • qualia says:

      I am really sick of people not realizing loan companies have personal responsibility too. They wouldn’t be allowed to loan money with interest if there was no risk. The way they make money is minimizing risk. If they make a bad gamble or can’t keep people paying, they lose the money.

      The lender made a bad decision about who to lend that much money to. Boo hoo, maybe they won’t lend over 15k to someone who can’t afford to pay that back next time. Or maybe they’re relying on the public to take on the risk and them to take the profit. Screw em if they refuse to keep someone in repayment, I hope she files for bankruptcy and they get nothing. Maybe they’ll keep up THEIR end of the contract, risk included.

  14. erratapage says:

    Same thing happened to my husband and me when we started trying to negotiate our debt. Business was down 90%, and didn’t have enough money to pay bills. No, we can’t help you, because (1) you aren’t behind on your bills; (2) you don’t have enough to pay; or (3) you have too much income. Whatever would get them to no.

    This is why people go bankrupt.

  15. GMFish says:

    I should say that I have NEVER missed a payment on ANY of my accounts whether credit, store, education loans or otherwise; my accounts have always been in good standing

    Consistently making your minimum payment each month should not be considered synonymous with never missing a payment. Unless you plan on living several hundred years.

    • obits3 says:

      I agree. I can’t stand people who act like they are so great for never missing a minimum payment. When I say “I pay my credit card every month,” I mean in full. Paying minimum payments does not tell me that you are financially responsable, it tells me that you are irresponsible.

      • greggen says:

        Wow, I cannot stand the type who “only” pay in full each month. Such people are ignorant and foolish! I pay BEFORE I charge. He he heh heh heh. I am superior to such irresponsible people like obits3!

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I can’t stand them because they are sanctimonious know-it-alls who can’t seem to fathom that people are human and make mistakes or experience life changing events that might keep them from being able to pay.

          Is it a good idea to carry a balance? No. I don’t even use credit cards anymore–ever. But, people don’t have to be douche bags about their incredibly superior financial practices. Some people will always try to find some way that they are better than everyone else.

    • Mowens says:

      My economics professor in college said:

      “A good credit card customer pays off his card every month. A great credit card customer pays the minimum payment for the rest of his life.”

      They actually call people like me, (someone who pays his card in full every month) dead beats.

      I love my AMEX gold card, because it makes you pay it off every month. You do not have the option to pay it over time.

      • rpm773 says:

        I get ads every week for the various Amex credit cards, and offers to allow me to pay my Amex balance over time. I never sign on to them. My old fashioned Amex Green Card is the only account I’ll ever have with them, for the exact same reason you wrote.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I didn’t even realize there were AMEX cards that could carry a balance month-to-month.

      • Me - now with more humidity says:

        Actually, you do have that option on some purchases. Sign and Travel.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Yeah, I especially took note of her saying she was “overpaying” her account – overpaying doesn’t mean paying in full. She should have been getting ahead of her finances before it became debt.

  16. jedifarfy says:

    I’ve never understood why they won’t negotiate. Do you want to be repaid? Cause I can stop paying you. I hate credit card companies. I totally understand and hope she can get out of her situation without getting completely screwed.

    • rpm773 says:

      Because the credit card companies don’t operate on threats from those who owe. They look at your payment history and deduce your payment capability on that.

      If you haven’t paid them in over a year, they may be willing to setup a plan, as something is better than nothing (I’m not advocating that strategy).

      But when you’re current on your installment payments, and you claim that you don’t have enough to continue making payments, they’re going to tell you to get lost and cry to some other creditor.

      • fredrick says:

        Most of them could care less what your situation is, or when/if you’re ever going to make payments. They have many ways to get out of losing money.

    • madanthony says:

      Because if they lowered payments for everyone who asked for it, then everyone would ask for lower payments no matter what their financial situation.

      It’s like a hostage situation – once you show you are willing to kill hostages the cops treat the situation differently. Same thing with creditors – if you start missing payments, then they know that you are serious. If not, they figure you arent.

  17. Cubziz says:

    AmEx has been doing this for ages. I went rounds with them when they upped my interest rate without asking. When I called to complain, they refused to lower it, closed the account and then raised it again AFTER I got into a Credit Counseling Program (which ended up getting reversed quite quickly). But they wouldn’t talk to me from the start, but the minute I got someone else involved, they blamed me for not coming to them directly. Even got a call from them offering to “lower my rate” if I backed out of the CC Program. To this day (a year later) I still get calls from them offering their various “services” even though my account was forcibly closed.

  18. Polish Engineer says:

    “I find it fascinating that somehow me asking a company I’ve been overpaying since 2005 for help is so daring and irresponsible. Furthermore, is it not true that anything they make on top of what I’m actually paying them back for borrowing is simply profit??!”

    Things happen. I understand this. However, I’m not sure how a company requesting you keep to the terms of your credit card agreement is “daring and irresponsible”. I think you admittedly living beyond your means at interest rates you could not afford and then asking for relief makes you the “daring and irresponsible” one.

    And further, there is a large difference between profit and revenue. It’s not like there isn’t an operating cost to running a lending business.

    • Dover says:

      I also don’t understand how she was overpaying. I think she’s referring to the minimum payments being (in her opinion) too high, but she owes it to Amex per the terms of her agreement. Just because they reduced it later (in order to get some money out of her after she stopped paying) doesn’t mean the first rep was lying when she said the minimum payment couldn’t be reduced. It would have been nice of Amex to work with her *before* she couldn’t afford to pay her bills, but, as others have pointed out, they have good reasons not to.

  19. Dallas_shopper says:

    This is a hole the OP dug for herself. While the customer service rep at AMEX was out of line for yelling at her, nothing she said was incorrect. The OP should take that to heart.

    • GMFish says:

      The OP should take that to heart.

      If the OP was able to accept reality, she would not be in the predicament she’s currently in.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        I’m hoping she’ll get the message eventually. We all pay for the financial irresponsibility of people like her.

        • acasto says:

          Do any of you people even read the articles any more? Or do you get the self-righteous warm fuzzy feeling quicker by just coming straight to the comments and proclaiming how much better you are than everybody else by bashing the OP?

  20. Rob07 says:

    “-This is YOUR fault that you are in this situation
    -How DARE you ask American Express to shoulder your responsibilities
    -Maybe if you didn’t spend money you didn’t have you wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with
    -This is AMERICAN EXPRESS’ MONEY YOU’RE ASKING FOR”

    Sounds like the truth to me.

  21. Murph1908 says:

    Sophie,

    For a few years out of college, I was in the same situation, making little money, buying groceries on credit cards, struggling to pay student loans, etc. My credit tanked due to missed payments, I was getting daily collection calls, the whole mess.

    Eventually, things got better. I made more money, learned from my mistakes, paid off my student loans and other outstanding debts, and got out of the hole.

    I applied for a new mortgage for a new house last week, and my credit score is now over 800.

    My point is, I was really depressed back then. I called an ex girlfriend at 1 AM one morning because I was stressed out, couldn’t sleep, and needed a friend to talk to.

    You may feel overwhelmed at this point, and probably are in some ways. But you have made the first step in recovery, and with time, you can also break free, repair your credit, and thrive.

    Hang in there. The future is not as bleak as it might seem right now.

  22. odarkshineo says:

    well, I mean that is how they make their money…and it is their money…I can see both sides here.

  23. Bativac says:

    -This is YOUR fault that you are in this situation
    -How DARE you ask American Express to shoulder your responsibilities
    -Maybe if you didn’t spend money you didn’t have you wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with
    -This is AMERICAN EXPRESS’ MONEY YOU’RE ASKING FOR

    All of these are true regardless of how rude the CSR was.

    When you have spiraled into debt and don’t have money to pay it off, you are really at the mercy of the companies you have borrowed the money from, regardless of how big a bastard that company is. My wife and I have halved our credit card debt over the past year only by scrimping and paying at least double the minimum monthly payments… zero help from the credit card companies.

    The other option is to just let it go. That can be stressful, though, for the length of time it stays on your credit report. Getting harassed by debt collectors is no fun either. (I did this with an account 12 or so years ago and it has since fallen off my credit report.)

  24. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    OP, you need to join CreditBoards stat. Yes, even without us seeing all your financial stats, you do need a lifestyle change [lecture truncated]. But in the meantime, join CreditBoards and start reading about the different banks and the BS they pull (this snottiness you experienced is relatively minor), then figure out how to play hardball with these people. Stick around here, though, and you’ll learn ways of saving money in the first place.

  25. wagnerism says:

    There are so many scams out there that prey upon people that are in the author’s position or have actually started to default. I wouldn’t know who to trust. If an ethical responsible (non-profit???) organization were to help, what would they do differently? Do they know which buttons to push both figuratively with their language or literally in the phone system to get the right group of representatives? My guess is that they do it all the time, are good at it, and have a good idea how far each lender is willing to bend.

    It is awesome that the author is aware of the cashflow problem and is taking action before any payments are missed. Being capable of being proactive and getting through this may mark the last time the author will be in this situation.

    Maybe the best action is to let it go deliquent. Collection agencies always seem to drop the amount owed

    Genuine question…

    Why negotiate? What financial consequences is the author looking to lessen or avoid?

    Preserving the credit score or lessen the hit that is coming?

    Avoiding universal default? (is that legal anymore?)

  26. msbask says:

    She says she’s paying 30% interest. Amex offered her 0% for six months, then 10% for the next six. That sounds like a GREAT deal.

    If I were her, I’d juggle SOMETHING and take that deal post haste.

  27. ARP says:

    Depending on how much she owes, doesn’t the CARD Act actually require a higher min. payment.

  28. COBBCITY says:

    First, I shudder to think of what balance would require a $250 minimum payment each month.. and that is only one of three cards. The OP had deep trouble long ago and “‘m not earning enough at my current job” is not the reason, that blames the job… not the OP for living within her means.

    That said, there was another story about them here a while back. American Express is by no means the leader in credit cards or customer service. They charge annual fees, offer less than many other cards, etc. I am lost as to why anyone would not just find a MasterCard or Visa with similar rewards (and less hassle) and switch.

    • MickeyMoo says:

      My Amex is hand in hand with my Costco membership – they cancel each other out, I get 3% back at the end of the year (plus Costco cashback as a separate check) and Amex’s extended warranty protection is top notch. They just payed me back FULL purchase price on a dead almost 2 year old computer. I really like them (but would never pay for a gold/plat/black card)

  29. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Has she consindered a debt transfer to a lower APR credit card?

    • GMFish says:

      Has she considered living within her means?

      • coren says:

        Have you considered making these payments prevent her from doing just that?

        Did you read the article where she admits she hasn’t been and is now taking steps to correct that?

    • wagnerism says:

      The author will have a credit report showing the current minimum monthly payments. The author’s truthful/verified statement of income cannot cover those payments. That makes it a risky loan which translates into denials, low limits and unfavorable interest rates.

      The borrower could move balances like planned but then run up the balance on the original card… especially if they have a negative monthly cash flow.

  30. MickeyMoo says:

    Treading on the ever so thin “don’t blame the OP” ice, but WTF do people (in general) buy that ends up with a $300/mo 29.99% credit card bill? I honestly don’t get it. Bring a sandwich to work, get a bus pass, trade down to a beater car, cut your own hair, thrift shop, learn to sew, learn to cook, whatever one does has to be better than a life of debt slavery @ 30%

    • GMFish says:

      “”

      My guess is that her closets are very full.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Amex has a 2% of balance or finance charge plus $15 minimum payment. At 30% APR, finance charge is 2.5% monthly, so the minimum would be 2.5% of balance plus $15. A $250 minimum payment implies a balance of $9,400.

    • weave says:

      Amen. Back in 1985 I had $5k in debt and got fed up with it, so I sold my car and used the bus and the occasional taxi instead. After getting out of debt I was used to that lifestyle so I continued without the car. Finally a job change pretty much required a car in 2007 so I broke down and got one — and paid for it in cash from savings.

      Bottom line, you’re right. Make sacrifices now and reap rewards later.

    • syzygy says:

      You don’t have to be carrying a huge balance for a long time to have this happen to you. When the economy turned a few years back, I had a balance carried on an Amex Blue Cash card for a couple of months. I often used that card when I wanted to split big purchases into several smaller payments with minimal finance charges (9.99%, IIRC). I let one payment slip because for some reason, the due date moved from the normal 3rd of the month to the 30th of the previous month. I noticed on the 29th (when I would usually send payment) that I was going to be overdue, so I sent payment, which went through on the 2nd, two days late. My next bill had a rate increase to 28.99%. I immediately paid off the balance, and canceled the card. I don’t want to do business with a company that slaps good customers in the face the moment they misstep.

  31. cottercutie says:

    And these banks wonder why bankruptcy rates and default rates have gone up. It’s a shame that instead of working with a customer temporarily they’d rather end up with nothing via a bankruptcy.

    I went through this with Chase after they tripled my interest rate on my two cards because of a bogus collection on my credit report under the “universal default” clause. Even though I got the report corrected they refused to work with me or restore my previous interest rate. Same deal with Bank of America. I ended up filing for bankruptcy because the credit card companies would not work with me. Had these companies been willing to work with me for the short term they’d be paid off right now. Instead they got nothing.

    And while the Sophie may need a lifestyle change, lecturing her about past wrongs isn’t helping her situation. She’ll never be able to make that change unless she is able to get out of this vicious cycle she is stuck in. She’s not asking for debt forgiveness, she’s asking for a temporary reprieve to get caught up so she can actually PAY THEM.. you know, trying to do the “right thing”.

  32. unchainedmuse says:

    I was out of work for 14 months after getting laid off in November 2008. I couldn’t afford to pay my bills after about six months. I stopped paying Amex until I found a new job.

    When their collections department called me, the “agent” (and I use the term loosely) told me that she had never seen anyone in debt like I am (to the tune of about $3k) and that I should basically be ashamed of myself. I asked her if she’d prefer I went without food or gas in order to pay Amex. She didn’t answer. I was insulted. I had made every single payment on time previously and had never before been employed for any length of time.

    Fast forward to last month. I’ve been employed now for 5 months. I had to relocate to take this job, so I couldn’t start paying my creditors immediately. I moved halfway across the country alone in order to get an income again! Creditors were constantly hounding me, particularly Amex. I was finally in a position to start making payments. They reduced my interest rate to 0% and stopped late fees from accruing.

    So maybe the answer to the OP is to wait, get seriously behind on her payments, and deal with the bothersome phone calls until she is in a better place. I would NOT normally advocate this, but it seems her credit is shot anyway.

  33. NeverLetMeDown says:

    “I find it fascinating that somehow me asking a company I’ve been overpaying since 2005″

    If you had truly been “overpaying” them, presumably you would have found a better deal elsewhere.

    “Furthermore, is it not true that anything they make on top of what I’m actually paying them back for borrowing is simply profit??!”

    Sure, because they pay nothing to get the money and their employees work for free.

    “The problem is I’m paying an unnecessary 29.99% interest rate on both those cards”

    Given that you’re a clear and obvious default risk, the high rate allows the bank to either (a) earn enough on you to justify the risk, or (b) push you to pay off the debt. Looks like the rate is pretty necessary to me.

    “I know it’s my fault I’m in this mess but a little help in good faith would be nice considering I’ve always been a very good customer.”

    A good customer is one with an attractive risk/reward profile. You’re certainly generating cash flow, but you’re also extremely high risk, so no evidence that you’re a good customer.

  34. sponica says:

    I am always amused at posts like these…as if credit card debt is the result of a freewheeling lifestyle.

    I was on top of mine until A) I was unemployed for 5 months post graduation. B) Got a car from my uncle that needed 800 dollars worth of repairs to pass inspection. No inspection, no car. No car, no job. C) My sister got married 8 months earlier than planned. And it’s not like you can say no to being MOH at your sister’s wedding. BEST FRIEND got married 8 weeks later, sure I could have said no and then regretted it FOREVER. D) Car continually needs repairs, it’s at 150k so everything broke in a short time frame. Brakes, struts, you name it. And everytime I got one card paid off, the car would need another repair….

    There must be some crazy credit card companies out there….because I get offers EVERYDAY. Despite the fact my utilization is completely insane…

  35. ap0 says:

    I dunno, I just don’t have much sympathy when the OP admits this is her fault due to living beyond her means and has not one, but THREE maxed out CCs. How Amex wants to deal with its debtors is their business — just because they don’t want to bend over backwards for someone who has shown they can’t manage their finances properly doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in the wrong. I also imagine the tone of voice the OP used on the phone had an air of arrogance and entitlement, and she probably pissed off the CSR who’s making $12/hr and living responsibly and within her means.

    My problem with this is that the OP signed a contract with Amex, apparently hasn’t had any financial hardships that are beyond her control, but still expects to lower the amount she has to pay to Amex because (and only because) she can’t control her spending. Time to take some responsibility, cut back significantly, and learn from your mistakes.

  36. Blow a fuse? I can fix that... says:

    What the OP and many comments completely miss is that as long as you haven’t missed any payments or defaulted on any loans, you have no skin in the game. If I though my bank or anyone else would give me free money just for calling in with a sob story, I’d be on the phone with them every day and twice on Sunday.

    What’s my worst case? They say no and cancel my account? Well, since my credit is still good, I could just get a new loan from another lender. Hell, the way some banks and lenders are run, I could probably get another one from the _same_ lender.

    Now, if you start missing payments, your credit takes a hit and getting new credit will suddenly be hard to get. Now you have skin in the game, and your word on the phone is backed up by, at the very least, your willingness to take a hit to your credit score.

    It makes perfect sense for banks and lenders to wait until you’ve show to them that this is more than just a hustle for lower rates/payments/whatever. Indeed, if you look at it from this way, you should probably try to strategically default early, rather than beg, borrow and steal to make payments for as long as you can. Not sure I’d have the b***s to do so myself, but objectively, this seems to be the winning strategy.

  37. smo0 says:

    Regardless of the conversation this woman had at Citi (I don’t know) but I worked for Citi for 3 years and Amex for
    the reverse: volunteering opinions to a customer with or without warrant…. was applied under that same statement… this:

    -This is YOUR fault that you are in this situation
    -How DARE you ask American Express to shoulder your responsibilities
    -Maybe if you didn’t spend money you didn’t have you wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with
    -This is AMERICAN EXPRESS’ MONEY YOU’RE ASKING FOR

    If this was recorded – this agent could have been written up or terminated….

    Citi and Amex and BofA may be a lot of things – but I clearly remember people being written up for dishing out “financial advice” because as an agent, everything you say…. Citi (for example) is saying – this is NOT allowed….

    If you KNOW you’re going to be in a shit storm at SOME point? even with ONE company – GET YOURSELF A TAPE RECORDER…. that’s my best financial advice for 2010-2015.

  38. wellfleet says:

    The CSR wasn’t judging or editorializing, the CSR was stating facts. That said, clearly Sophie gets it. She was living irresponsibly and is ready to make a change.

    Sophie, go see a certified credit counselor, find one at nfcc.org. A credit counselor can help you devise a realistic budget, work with your creditors, and put you on a structured payment plan. My husband does PR for a credit counseling non-profit and these can be a lifeline to people in debt. Taking control of your situation will be such a relief, you’ll be able to rebuild your credit and get your debts paid off.

    The time for lectures should have been from her friends and family *before* she got in this deep. Now, it’s time for action not finger-wagging. Good luck Sophie!

  39. Boo LaRue says:

    Man, there sure are a ton of self-righteous folks with pristine credit scores and credit habits on this forum!

    God forbid that you suffer some type of financial setback in these shaky days and times. You’ll certainly be singing a different tune then!

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      I was able to weather the storm due to thrifty spending habits and decent savings. I do NOT have a closet full of clothes and shoes. I do NOT have teetering stacks of DVDs and magazines all over my house. I live simply and frugally despite making close to six figures a year precisely because I have seen others have to deal with the terrible consequences of their inability to distinguish between “need” and “want.”

  40. lanigan911 says:

    RE: This quote:
    -This is YOUR fault that you are in this situation
    -How DARE you ask American Express to shoulder your responsibilities
    -Maybe if you didn’t spend money you didn’t have you wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with
    -This is AMERICAN EXPRESS’ MONEY YOU’RE ASKING FOR

    Didn’t AMEX take TARP funds?

  41. hmburgers says:

    “I find it fascinating that somehow me asking a company I’ve been overpaying since 2005 for help is so daring and irresponsible.”

    Overpaying how? Do you mean you have been paying more the minimum, or do you mean you feel you’re “overpaying” for what they have been providing you? Clearly you are not “over” paying them because you owe them so much money, you admit it yourself–you live beyond your means. If you meant you are not satisfied with the value of what you get, then why have been with them for 5 years? There are plenty of other credit card companies out there, but you chose to stay with American Express, why? I doubt it’s because you thought one day they would be more accommodating when you couldn’t pay your bills.

    “…Furthermore, is it not true that anything they make on top of what I’m actually paying them back for borrowing is simply profit??!”

    First–it is NOT true that anything you pay them on top of what you borrowed is “simply profit”. There are costs associated with loaning money (it comes from somewhere you know!), this is why there are NO BANKS that will loan you money without charging you interest. It is true that they make money on each transaction, but that does not cover their costs to loan, for example, $10,000 over a period of 6 months… the fact that they were willing to lower your rate to 0% was extremely generous in your position and you apparently snubbed your nose at it.

    Second–This is not the First National Bank of Dad or some other non-profit… they earn a profit from people like you who borrow money–should the pizza place down the road sell you a pizza for only the cost of the ingredients?

    You’re angry and frustrated at this situation (a situation you admit you caused) … please do not re-direct blame onto American Express because they are unwilling to let you skip directly ahead from “paying on time” to the “last ditch effort”… if they did that, I’d be calling them every week whining I wanted to pay them only $100 because it’s all I can afford.

    Please, do yourself a favor–focus all of this frustration and blame inward, which is exactly where it belongs, and use it constructively to pay off your debt and change the way you have been living.

  42. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    What is it about threads on debt that utterly destroys the ability to comprehend what you’re reading for 97% of the commentors here?

    No one needs a lecture on things they already know. The OP admits the debt is her fault. She does not need a lecture. Whether or not what the CSR said is true is completely irrelevant. Should the OP have had to sit through a lecture on how the sky is blue and grass is green just because that’s true too?

    It was rude, it was stupid, and it was completely pointless.

  43. patrick says:

    unless the credit cards were used for medical emergencies, you kinda deserved a lecture. Get with the program. Stop crying and make a lifestyle change. Something has to go, and no, it’s not true that anything they make on top of what you’re paying them back for borrowing is profit. They have to pay the call center lady to listen to your BS.

    • coren says:

      Let me admit first that I am terribly in debt. I have been living beyond my means. HOWEVER, I should say that I have NEVER missed a payment on ANY of my accounts whether credit, store, education loans or otherwise; my accounts have always been in good standing. However, like many people, my financial bubble burst as well, and it came to a point where I realized I was going to start missing payments if I did not negotiate some sort of payment plan with my lenders.

      Your comment is bad and you should feel bad.

  44. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Yeah, Amex were the worst creditors I ever dealt with when I was having financial problems. I will admit that I used the card to pay for my $400 a month in prescriptions during a very lengthy bout with a severe lupus flare where I couldn’t work (I do have insurance.) Eventually, I decided to file bankruptcy to get rid of my $100,000 in medical debt becasue I realized I had no way to pay it all off. I had to stop paying all of my credit accounts to make payments to the attorney once I decided to do it.

    Most companies took my lawyer’s number and never called me again. Not Amex. I told them that I was very very ill and gave them the number for my attorney. The guy accused me of lying about my illness and of going on $400 a month shopping sprees at Target (where I get my meds.) He also told me that I should transfer my debt to another card (which is illegal when you know you intend on filing bankruptcy.) When I stopped answering (unplugged) the phone because he called 30 -40 times a day, he knocked on all my neighbor’s doors. He called my family, he even called my husband’s sister’s husband’s family, who I am not related to. Luckily, everyone knew what I was going through. The final time I talked to him, he told me I was a waste of air and that the world would be better off without scum like me, etc… He basically insinuated that I should kill myself.

    To this day, I believe that AMEX is the scummiest, lowest reaching, evil company in existence. As a result of their harassment, my illness became markedly worse from the stress. They are truly a waste of space in the American corporate landscape.

  45. Green Mountain Boy says:

    Credit cards are evil and need to be destroyed. Ignore your credit score (unless you’re a credit whore) and pay for everything in cash.

  46. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    With so many horror stories like these, I wonder if we’ll actually see any real changes in people’s behavior and attitudes regarding money and debt in the future.

  47. XTREME TOW says:

    At one end of the spectrum are the Low Income/High Responsibilty people who can’t get credit, even though it would be a very useful financial tool for them to improve their lives.
    At the other end are the High Income/Low Responsibilty people who think it’s OK to skip out on resposibilties in order to maintain their extravagant lifestyles, as long as nobody does it to them.
    And smack dab in the middle is: Sophie. Welcome to the real world, kid!
    If possible, at least try to pay the interest. You can worry about the principal later. If they give you any grief, bankruptcy may be an option. Or, the implied threat of it.
    The first step in finding a cure is admitting you have a problem. Best of Luck.

  48. almightytora says:

    I don’t want to knock the OP, but if she hasn’t been paying three credit cards on time, her credit score is already dinged. She might as well not pay them, let them close, go to collections, and wait the seven years when they can’t collect it legally.

  49. Kris with a K says:

    Um… I would lecture you too. You say a tape recorder would have been handy? For what? The woman didn’t do or say anything illegal. She simply stated that it is not American Expresses responsibility to drop the payments below $250 and that you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have.

    • qualia says:

      It’s not responsible lender practice to allow your lenders to lapse on their payments rather than cancel their line of credit and negotiate a lower rate. Hell, it’s not responsible lending to lend that much money to someone who they have more than enough information on to know they can’t pay back in the first place.

      She needs to go to a reputable debt repayment service and start thinking about filing for bankruptcy.

      • Kris with a K says:

        I don’t know if she can file bankruptcy. Don’t you need thousands of dollars of debt to file? I’m guessing her entire balance with AE is $400. I don’t know what her other two balances are.

        They did offer a lower payment and 0% interest rate for 6 months. That more than they would normally do. AE’s rigid terms are pretty well known. They don’t play.

  50. hegemony says:

    I ran up all of my Amex cards and then filed for bankruptcy. lol

  51. mmmwright says:

    I hope she doesn’t owe the IRS anything – they’ll make her cry on purpose

  52. seamer says:

    I had the same problem with Chase. We were a double-income household until I lost my job. We were then spending more on CC debt than we were earning per month.

    Discover, Chase, and BoA refused to discuss payment plans because… get this… our total debts exceeded our income, and we had not missed a payment yet. All three informed us we would have to miss at least 3 payments before we could make a deal. I had to lie about our expenses before they would come down, and even then it wouldn’t help enough to keep us afloat.

    I switched tactics and said I’d not pay anything then, as I’d rather feed my family than pay exorbitant rates. Chase said they’d take me to court, and then backed down after I pointed out it could drag out for more than 4 years with what I knew, and then the statute of limitations would kick in.

    They all caved after that, and our payments went from over 2k/m to 800/m. We no longer have cards with any of them (which is good), and our scores are not affected as we’re still paying everything correctly.

  53. dragon2o00 says:

    there is no remorse in this story. simply admitting that she lived beyond her means does not mean she deserves a cookie. further, after getting a solid offer from amex, something they did not need to do, she admits she was the first to get “a little emotional,” which if admitted by her, was probably worse than just a “bit.” fact is amex owes her nothing and in fact, she owes them. that she has to take the same route with two more cards shows that she fully deserved what she got, whether unprofessional by the representative.

    this is a horrible story and should be filed under the negative examples of consumers. people who don’t think and then look for hand-outs. amex did nothing wrong here other than have one rep become slightly unprofessional, but that’s not even something we can say with absolute certainty as we don’t know how this person became “a little emotional” after receiving an offer.

    • coren says:

      “flew into a rage” is slightly unprofessional, and apparently, understandable to you – but someone who can’t afford their payment being offered a lower interest rate and the exact same payment (which they still cannot afford) is no cause to get emotional. Ah.

  54. FCBLComish says:

    4 words…

    Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball

    Google it.

  55. mchihal says:

    I had a fun one with AMX. Back During the great recession I actually made a bounce at X-Mas. I took the bonus figuring I would be responsible and paid off my AMX blue card. They promptly cancelled the card on me the same month. Thanks AMX

  56. ClumsyTRex says:

    So, this is my post. (Imagine my surprise actually seeing it on this website I read daily!).
    Here’s an update on my situation (for those interested):
    1. I am now in the CARE plan with Amex paying $180.00 per month for 12 months (6 months with 0% interest, 6 months with 9.99% interest; account cancelled). I upped it to $200 recently (the most I can afford) to at least get the most out of the 0% interest months. I’m going to see what I can do to make that a much more significant number in the next few months
    2. I never defaulted on Citi or BofA. I was actually able to negotiate a much lower interest rate on Citi (and they seemed surprised that it was that high to begin with). And BofA is at a fair interest rate at this time. Both accounts are in good standing and I have been making above minimum payments consistently

    I went through and read everybody’s comments. Thanks for the support and thanks even to people who think I’m a wacko clotheshorse who’s been living off the Bank of Dad in an alternate reality from the rest of humankind only to be awakened (rudely!) by the melodic voice of an Amex CSR. I could not even begin to explain what motivates Amex to give a 23 year old close to a 15K credit limit at roughly 18%….(seriously, although to be fair this was back in 2007, but still I was 23…with a job at a non-profit…in Harlem!).

    In even more awesome news, I’ve been able to put my student loans into forbearance (a PhD = just about the most useless thing money can buy, esp. if it’s not in business/science/et al.) so I’m using the (little) excess to help pay down all my CCs (which have substantially higher interest rates compared with the student loans). I share a 1 bedroom apartment, I drive a used car I bought from a rental car place (for under 10K financed), I switched to a cheaper car insurance provider, I walk every weekend, eat at home as often as possible, cancelled cable, and bought a book on how to make a perfect Old Fashioned at home!

    Listen, I’m not perfect (as if that needed clarifying), I’m doing the best I can for the moment and I am working towards being even better. :-)

  57. jaredwilliams says:

    Yeah, I don’t disagree that credit card companies need a Fight Club-esque wake-up call (everyone back to zero)

    But this is exactly why at 23 Renting an apartment leasing a new car and having a nice cell-phone and my own insurance, I still don’t have an open credit card. I have them, but I don’t use them. There’s a reason for that. There’s also a reason when the credit card company said “you have such good credit and make so much a year we can offer you a spending limit of 50,000″ I said “what’s the lowest amount, whatever that is that’s what I want”. Because the lowest amount on my Platinum Awesome Rewards card or whatever it is, is 5k.

    Who needs that much money at a time? Emergencies only. If you don’t have the money NOW you won’t have it when you need it. Credit is a necessary evil, but unfortunately should only be used to further your good credit, not to spend when you have nothing to back it up.

    Not trying to slap you in the face, that sucks that so many people get sucked in to them. Good luck to you!

  58. BobOblah says:

    Boo hoo. Maybe this’ll learn you to live WITHIN your means from now on.

  59. J T says:

    I have two AmEx cards, one is the AmEx Gold and the other issued by Costco. For the past 2 months, I’ve made a payment for the Costco AmEx. However, on the same day my AmEx Gold shows a payment for the minimum amount which I didn’t make. One data point isn’t a trend but two consectuvie months with the same things happening?!?!

    In their outsourced call center, the representative pleads ignorance and transfers me to another location. The representative in AmEx Customer Service in Plantation, FL, listened patiently when I explained the issue again but said that AmEx still needs 3 business days to check out the ‘problem’. Let’s see, I call on a Saturday, the day after I authoized only 1 payment, but the’re no one available to ‘check out’ the problem. Guess those individuals who ‘check out’ the problem have different business days when it comes to this global company managing my money. Oh, I’ve already disputed the AmEx Gold payment with my bank. Anyone else had this happen?

    J T