Patricia closed her company’s American Express Delta Sky Miles card six months ago, but the expired card unexpectedly sprang to life thanks to a supplier’s accidental charge. American Express laughed off the matter, saying “this happens all of the time,” adding that it’s Patricia’s responsibility to ensure that all vendors destroy her outdated billing information.
I handle the credit card accounts for my company. We had an inactive American Express Delta Sky Miles card that hadn’t been used in several years. (3 to be exact) I called AMEX and closed the account informing the CSR that our company had another AMEX account and that was our primary. I was assured the account was closed and moved on.
Come March, our production manager made a small purchase from a company whom we use infrequently and may have had this old account number in their database (a disturbing thought). Now our production manager does not have the old card in his possession, nor does he have the old account number anywhere. One individual, our CEO, had exclusively used this particular AMEX.
I immediately called the vendor and American Express wanting to know how a transaction could clear on a closed account. The American Express CSR informed me that the account was indeed closed, but it was not uncommon for transactions to go through. I was told that recurring transactions will go through. I told the CSR the story that this was a company we infrequently purchase from, and that this card had not been used in years.
The just from AMEX – Since this was a phone order and the physical card was not used to make this purchase the transaction would have been approved. Apparently the vendor also used a dummy expiration date as the old card expired in 2007. Since the vendor keyed in the account number the transaction was permitted to go through. I told American Express that this was an appalling practice – a closed account – especially one closed 6 months ago – was a closed account and any transaction put to that number should have been declined. The CSR kept insisting that it was my responsibility to make sure all vendors eliminated the old information. This is absurd. Oh, and the CSR told me that this happens all of the time. Many of the credit card transactions machine do not require the security code to process a keyed transaction – just a number and date.
I have sent emails to whatever executives I could find at American Express, and I wanted to alert your site to this wonderful practice. I mean I had heard about ISP’s and television services not actually canceling your account, but a credit card company? Seems like bad business practice if you ask me.
American Express isn’t alone in keeping zombie accounts on life support. Bank of America’s never-die accounts are also known for their miraculous rejuvenations, complete with unexpected service fees. The tactic lets creditors cling to customers, while appearing to oblige their reasonable requests to close their accounts. It’s a disgusting practice that should be outlawed.