I'm tired of you Amex

, posted: 8-Mar-2013 08:41

At a quarter past 5 this morning, my phone started vibrating on my bedside cabinet. My wife stirred next to me, asking “What’s that?” At that time in the morning, in the middle of a REM state, your mind starts racing, your heart starts pumping and you’re thinking someone in your family is hurt, sick, in crisis.

Several times over the last year I have had battles with American Express charging me whopping late payment fees for my account. It transpires that we did automatic payments the day prior to the due date through the National Bank (nowANZ) but it typically took 3 or more days for the money to trickle through to Amex, even though our bank statementsshowed that we had made the payments on time.

We asked for explanations from the bank and from American Express and no one could explain. It just seemed to go into a black hole and of course no one really understands black holes yet, so they couldn’t explain where the money went, why it took so long, nor how a few days later it would appear, LATE, into our Amex account. Maybe it has something to do with cosmic string overnight cash rates, but if so, the interest certainly didn’t come to us to help pay with the late fee.

AmexSo we agreed with Amex that we would pay several days earlier than the due date (funny how they ping consumers when the average company takes 72 days to pay their 20th of the month accounts) and they put us on a text service where they would let us know when the account was due and when they received the payment.

Up until now those TXT messages came through at a reasonable hour, but this morning (maybe reduced fees for out of business hours SMS?) they decided to TXT me at 5:16 AM.

Well thanks Amex, I know you aren’t going to charge me a late fee. but I haven’t slept since you woke me up and have a long day ahead with important business meetings. I just want you to know that this is not cool or helpful, and I’m kinda annoyed. I’d ring you and try to wake you up, but I’m sure I’d end up talking to a nice person somewhere in the world where it is business hours.

Perhaps someone can look into your systems and think about putting in a few rules?

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Comment by Blue, on 8-Mar-2013 09:10

After 15 years as an Amex customer I cut my Amex Credit Card up after several discussions with them about their real interest rate.

Because of the way that they accrue interest, my real interest rate was 60% per year.

I also got ride of my gold debit card, and asked them to note "DO NOT CONTACT" on my file after repeated telemarketing calls from them offering me new services.

Pleased to say that after two years, and several threats to report them to the privacy commissioner, they stopped calling me.

Comment by Dulouz, on 8-Mar-2013 09:18

I always put my phone into flight mode when I'm sleeping. Nothings that important to disturb your sleep.

Comment by Dulouz, on 8-Mar-2013 09:29

I always put my phone into flight mode when I'm sleeping. Nothings that important to disturb your sleep.

Comment by aros71, on 8-Mar-2013 14:58

Use blocking mode - you can specify only certain numbers are able to get through, so family members can get through whereas all other callers get voicemail, text messages are silent, etc. You can set up whatever rules you like

Comment by mattwnz, on 8-Mar-2013 17:16

They have recently  sent me an application form to signup. But after reading this, and the fact that they wanted all sorts of information about me and my earnings etc, I won't be signing up.

Comment by kawaii, on 11-Mar-2013 05:02

For me I've recently signed up for an AMEX but I went for the charge card option. End of the day though I would have thought it was common knowledge that it can take up to 3 days for the 'other side' to receive the money and process it. Sometimes you can be lucky, in the case of GEM Visa the money appeared almost over night but others it sometimes takes 2-3 days such as when I was with Contact Energy. End of the day though when it comes to the old plastic I've sworn off revolving credit and either using a charge card or visa debit.

As for the text message; just disable the chime before you go to bed at night.

Author's note by PDAMan, on 11-Mar-2013 18:37

Thanks for the advice folks.

@kawaai I appreciate it can take time to move money, but the thing is, if I spend money on EFTPOS it is out of my account straight away. So if it takes 3 business days to be transferred, who has the use of the money in the meantime? 

It doesn't take 3 business days to validate security, all they have to do is ensure that I am me and that I have authority to to make a payment out of my account online. It is a rort. I note there is a story about banks charging excessive fees on TV One tonight, don't know if it is relevant or not. 

Isn't it my money until AMEX get it?

Comment by kawaii, on 12-Mar-2013 03:44

@PDAMan: Just out of curiosity, when you pay a bill does the money it go through a third party on transit to AMEX? I'm just wondering in terms of how the money is processed and whether it deducts off the 'balance' but the money is batched processed and only physically sent then which then requires the receiving party to receive the money then 'batch process' to align the money received with the particulars against the relevant accounts. It would be interesting to know when the processing times occur of AMEX vs. the banks. Also, wondering about payment over the counter at NZ Post - is it faster that way than doing it via online banking? it would be interesting to compare the delay of a online baking payment vs. a payment done over the counter.

Author's note by PDAMan, on 12-Mar-2013 19:33

@kawaai I don't know the bank process. We pay Amex as a bill payment online, the statement shows that the payment has been made overnight, but AMEX claim that they don't receive the money until a few days later. No one could tell me where the money was in the interim. Amex did credit a couple of late payment fees and now we pay a number of days before the due date to make sure it doesn't happen again, but technically my argument is that if we pay and the bank statement confirms that, AMEX should have our money after the roll over during the night. So where does the money go.

I don't know what would happen if you paid at NZ Post. Of course that means going there, ok if you were going near them anyway. Let me know if you try it?

Comment by kawaii, on 13-Mar-2013 03:19

@pdaman: I'll give the NZ Post a go to see what happens - btw, how long does it normally take between making a purchase and it appearing on the bill (via the AMEX online service)? I made a purchase of $20 via my prepaid telecom and wondering whether it takes 3 days or more for the processing. Oh well, I'll experiment around and see what happens.

Author's note by PDAMan, on 14-Mar-2013 09:33

@kawaii I don't look at my statement online to see how long it takes for a purchase transaction to go through on Amex, probably depends on the EFTPOS system that a a retailer uses. In theory it should be visible within minutes, at least in New Zealand. 

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Luigi Cappel
New Zealand

Helping people getting their message to potential customers with blogs and social media.
Futurist and start up founder.
Passionate consultant about all things to do with Social, Location, Augmented Reality and Mobile.
Member of Auckland ICT Cluster
Chair of Computing and IT Industry Advisory Committee at National Technology Institute
Founding member and past president of the New Zealand Wireless Forum.
Past Vice President NZ Sales & Marketing Institute.