Tuesday, September 01, 2009

American Express: the New Bully

We have all been getting the emails. From our banks, from our credit cards, and from pretty much every company that sends us paper, the emails keep coming. Please go paperless. Sign up to get your statements online. They make it all sound so convenient and easy. Even my company does it, scanning and emailing royalty statements.

Up until now, though, it has all been voluntary. They ask and if you want to cut down on some paper or save a tree, you agree to go paperless. I don't know about you, but when it comes to bills, I pretty much like getting the paper. Otherwise, I risk losing the bill in the plethora of emails I get every day and forgetting to pay it. That doesn't happen with paper bills.

The other reason I like paper bills is that I like using paper checks. Sure, paying online might be convenient, but I use Quicken for personal financial tracking and QuickBooks for business. And I don't write enough checks in either service to be worth signing up for Intuit's bill-paying services. Sure, my banks offer bill-paying services, but then I have to log onto their websites, set up the bills to be paid, and otherwise do a ton of duplicate data entry. I like entering things once and, incredibly, getting paper bills and paying them using paper checks seems to be the best way to achieve that.

But American Express wants to take the paper choice away from you. American Express Corporate Card holders no longer receive paper statements and they cannot get paper statements even if they request that they receive such statements. American Express has made online statements mandatory for Corporate Card holders. And they are going to do it to the rest of us, too.

You see, I've just been informed that Corporate Card holders are just the start. American Express is apparently on a mission to stop paper statements.

Good for the environment, you say? Perhaps, but I actually trust the US Mail to get me a bill more than I trust any email to reach me consistently, month after month. And if you use your local cable company's email system and then move to another city or state, and you fail to update your email address with each company, you risk missing your statements and becoming delinquent on your bills. At least the US Mail forwards your mail when you move. Do you trust Time Warner, AOL, or AT&T to forward your email? I do not.

I'm 100% confident that part of the thinking at American Express is that they will be able to make more on late fees and interest by forcing folks into paperless billing. That's better for their bottom line, but not yours, for sure.

So call American Express at 212-640-2000 and ask for the office of the president of American Express Credit Cards and let them know you are against mandatory paperless billing. And, like me, put your American Express card in a drawer until they stop trying to bully us into accepting changes like this without our agreement.


1 comment:

Suzann said...

I couldn't possibly agree more. Mr. Zack. Paperless in most instances equates with recordless, trackless and a gilded invitation to Murphy's Law at my end of the spectrum.
Of course, we swore off credit cards entirely two years ago, so AmEx, et al., were permanently and happily amputated from our wallets and lives.

Thank you for your post. Funny how often what's deemed as old-fashioned is in actuality, common sense. Along with a refusal to be bullied by are alleged to be consumer service providers.

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