American Express Leaves Customer Stranded In Mumbai With No Money

Wait a minute…that headline sounds familiar. It doesn’t have the desolate ring that “stranded in Siberia” has, but Josiah recently found himself without available credit in Mumbai. He recently had made a large payment on his American Express balance, see, and AmEx cut his credit limit accordingly—down to his current balance. Stranded without money in Mumbai?

Customer service was powerless to help him, and so he turned to Consumerist’s site. He found the e-mail address of Chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenault, and sent off this message, CCing Consumerist:

Dear Mr. Chenault,

I am writing this letter from my hotel room in Mumbai this morning. I am here for business on a last minute trip, my company policy requires that we cover our costs for room and board and that is then reimbursed upon my arrival back home in Florida. I know there has been a growing trend of decreasing credit limits to the current balances on accounts, I don’t have a problem with that per se, in fact if I could do without I would. Before leaving on my trip I made sure that I would have sufficient funds on my card to pay for my trip, I recently made a payment of cutting my balance nearly in half in hopes of getting on better footing.

My problem is this, day one in India, I awake to find an email saying my credit limit has been cut to my current balance. I requested a temporary increase, so that I would have money available for a hotel and food during my stay. Unfortunately, despite the woman who was very helpful and apologetic, she said that the department that makes such decisions would not be able to complete such a request as the decrease was based on a reason. That reason like so many is that my available credit limit in relation to my balances is too low. A lovely catch-22 when you are trying to get things under control, paying cards off only to have the limits again lowered and the ratio again decreased.

For the time being, until I can beg and borrow from family and get money deposited…I thank you personally and your company for leaving me stranded in India, with the added jab or a thank you and have a nice day at the end of my
customer service call.

A little sarcastic? Maybe, but who wouldn’t be? We checked in with Kris to see how things turned out. His letter had the intended effect, though: a temporary restoration of his previous limit.

I did hear back from Executive customer service today (I think as my internal clock is all messed up). They have temporarily re-instated my limit for 30 days to cover the time I am on my trip…thanks I’m sure to having copied you all on the email. Luckily I had family I could beg from to cover me so I could check into the hotel, etc this trip—and their interest rate won’t be nearly that of AMEX!

Thanks! and thanks to the consumerist that posted the email address! I managed to work around it but it could have been a godsend.

Very nice! At least the company let Kris know via e-mail before his card was declined somewhere and he was horribly embarrassed, but at least this e-mail got his balance restored.

Much like Shannon’s Siberian odyssey, this story underlines the importance of traveling with a backup funding source of some kind—a different credit card, traveler’s checks, or anything else usable in case your primary funding source goes awry.

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(Photo: gruntzooki)

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