An Open Letter To American Express
Dear American Express,
How are you? I know how hard this global recession has been on everyone, so I thought I’d check in on an old friend. We have had a professional relationship for over ten years.
Me? Well, I’m getting by. Several months ago, I was laid off with millions of other people. I had to take a job at half my prior salary and sell my house. But what am I saying? You know all this! That’s right. After you saw that my credit report showed a sudden three month hiccup in my otherwise flawless finances, you called to see how I was doing. No wait. Not to see how I was doing. To unilaterally cut my credit limit from $25,000 to $1,000. Oh, and you didn’t actually call. But that post card was nice.
Needless to say, this rift in our friendship left me spinning with questions. Mostly, I just want to know why. I was so good to you. I mean, yes I stopped paying my mortgage, (for the house already on the market) but I paid every single other bill. I paid all YOUR bills. Remember the good times? You were my friend … with benefits. What happened to the American Express I knew? The one who thanked me for my prompt payments and kept raising my credit limit? I got a new job. Is it my ass? It’s not me. It’s these new jeans. Ask Capital One, they’re totally into what I got going on. It just seemed like someone over there had made a grievous error.
So I decided to call because that’s what friends do, right? They don’t jump to conclusions and take rash actions without the facts. But, apparently, it wasn’t an error. One of your employees –let’s call her BitchFace— conveyed the sentiment in a subtle way:
“It’s not an error, Mr. Gladstone,” she said, twisting her heel into the larynx of a baby chihuahua. As I bent over to see if I could find what was left of my self worth and dignity rolling away on the floor, she upped the ante:
“We have you right where we want you.”
Yeah, I’m not joking. Who says that? I think she meant Amex had me at their desired credit limit, but seriously? “We have you right where we want you” is third on the list of evil phrases right behind “we have ways of making you talk,” and “we’re going to revoke your Facebook account if you keep harassing teens.”
I’m not going to lie to you American Express. This was a serious test of our friendship. But once my credit report was updated it showed no mortgage debt. Indeed, I had a credit rating of over 700. I faxed you the new information, proudly. Glad that we’d be able to put all this nonsense behind us, and you’d be able to return my credit limit to a point higher than let’s say … the cost of a high def TV or 8 nice dinners? I mean, c’mon, with a $1,000 credit limit, how was I going to afford a quality hit man to kill each and every one of the miserable bastards I’d spoken to at your company? I’d have to use some untested soldier of fortune off craigslist and he might not be any good. He might not slice your carotid artery clean enough and you’d have to die slowly over a long period of time while he did unspeakably perverted things to your increasingly lifeless corpse. None of us wanted that. So I submitted hard evidence and waited for you to do the right thing.
Well guess what? For a cynical guy who does a web series about hating things that suck, I am surprisingly optimistic and naive. Two weeks after my financial care package you sent another post card (I guess BitchFace couldn’t come to the phone) informing me that you were keeping my credit limit at $1,000.
One thing did make me feel a little better, though. No, not the new friend I found online who is willing to torture/murder creditors for half his normal rates (although that does help) but finding out that I’m not alone. American Express and other credit card companies have been up to all sorts of mindless shenanigans, making draconian decisions based more on the appearances of cutting costs than actually understanding which clients present unreasonable risks.
But hey, these are tough times. I get it. And I think it’s completely fair that you safeguard yourself against greed and carelessness. Even if it was your greed and carelessness that put you in this situation in the first place. If making my life more difficult helps you sleep at night, then, hey, I guess that’s what friends are for.
Besides, I’m very much into the idea of you sleeping soundly. My new friend tells me he works best at night.
Wishing you every success.