Stephanie did a wonderful thing, and bought a $100 American Express gift card as a gift for her assistant this past Christmas. Unfortunately, she tells Consumerist that the Duane Reade store where she purchased the card did a terrible thing, and failed to actually activate it for her. Twice. Now her assistant was embarrassed when she tried to use the card at a spa and it was rejected, and Stephanie has had to pay $11.90 in card-loading fees with no working gift card to show for it.
Have you ever exchanged an American Express gift card for goods or services? Luke writes that he received one as a gift, but hasn’t been able to use the card to make any purchases. All he’s managed to do is prove the futility of giving people credit card-branded gift cards as presents. Cash, my friends. Think cash.
Angela won a “Wish List” contest from American Express, which let her buy a $100 JetBlue gift card for $70. JetBlue managed to wipe out that $30 savings and any good will Angela might have felt by making her waste 129 minutes trying to redeem the card–and then charging her $15 for the service. At the end of her letter to AmEx and JetBlue, Angela writes, “I don’t know about other AmEx cardholders, but spending almost two hours on hold in order to be able to use something you’ve already paid for is not on my Wish List.”
Reader Chad was deployed to Iraq from 5/05 to 6/06. American Express gives a special rate to service members when they are deployed, but apparently Chad wasn’t getting it. They figured this out and let him know that they would be crediting his account with a mysterious number they couldn’t explain. Then they credited all his accounts with this exact amount of money– even new ones he didn’t have while in Iraq. Free money is nice, but he’d rather they just give him the right amount.
We’ve told you that it stipulates in the contract between merchants and credit card companies that stores aren’t allowed to force you to show ID when you buy stuff, but what about the other side of the story? Alex is a 26-year old small business owner and Consumerist lover, but he doesn’t know how he’s supposed to prevent fraud if he can’t check people’s ID’s. Contrary to what some commenters assume, when a stolen credit card is used, the money gets yanked out of Alex’s bank account and he is unlikely to get it or the missing merchandise back. He gets jacked twice: once by the fraudster, and once by the credit card company. What should he do? Switch to cash only? His story, inside…
Rob emailed Steve Jobs to tell him that until Apple fixed reader Joel’s account that had been billed $50,000 for iTunes purchases, he wouldn’t buy another Apple product. Replying via iPad, Steve Jobs told him, “I wouldn’t believe everything you read from places like this.” Ohhhh snap! But it wouldn’t be Jobs who had the last laugh…
I think we can all agree that Jobs and his crew at Apple are a bunch of visionaries when it comes to gadgets, online stores, and now getting really, really screwed by an iTunes purchase. Joel writes, “I just got a call from American Express stating that my recent purchase for iTunes plus for my entire library (cost $146) has been charged to my account over 300 times and is currently still being charged. I have called Apple to have them stop charging me and they told me the only thing I can do is cancel my card. There is no number for iTunes and I have sent multiple messages to them without response via email.”
Last month, New York City’s NY1 news channel produced a news segment on the woman who was arrested for paying with AMEX gift cards at a Best Buy. If you read our earlier post with Ilona’s email, you already know most of the basics, but you can see the problematic gift cards and hear Ilona describe the experience in her own words. It turns out that after she was released, she went back to Best Buy for either a refund or the DVD player, but had to leave without either one–she was told she’d have to contact American Express to resolve the problem.
Update: The news channel New York 1 has prepared a video segment about Ilona’s experience with Best Buy and the NYC police.
A shopper just told us that
last night last month at a Best Buy in NYC, she was taken to a back room, then cuffed by police officers and taken to a precinct for “further investigation,” because she tried to pay with an American Express gift card her father had bought for her.
Steve says American Express sent him an off-putting letter letting him know it could refuse to authorize his charge at any time. He writes:
We’re no longer indignant about Amex’s weirdly lax security policies anymore, we’re just confused. Why would a major credit card company cold call new customers and insist they give up bank and address info over the phone, or email sensitive data to strangers? Or, we just learned, demand that you use a lame password that isn’t case sensitive, is only 6 to 8 characters long, and can’t contain special characters?
Chuck lost his job several months ago and wanted to continue his American Express membership, but had trouble justifying the $50 annual fee in his limited budget. So he launched an Executive Email Carpet Bomb, started his own anti-AmEx blog and started picketing…
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?
American Express and Discover will no longer bill customers who exceed their credit limits, according to company spokespeople. The creditors aren’t eliminating the fees because they care about their customers. No, they’re providing what American Banker calls “the first concrete examples of how a new law will restrict issuers’ abilities to turn a profit.” The new CARD Act that Congress passed in May requires consumers to opt-in before they can exceed their credit limits. Since overlimit fees, which can reach $39, aren’t very profitable for creditors, they decided to ditch the fees altogether.
It’s not the responsibility of a credit card company to take care of you in an emergency, it’s true. But amid the many reports of canceled cards and slashed credit lines we’ve been receiving was the story of Elizabeth, her dog, a veterinary emergency, and a most inauspiciously timed credit line cut.