I don’t want to turn this fiasco into weekly series, but I know many of you are wondering about my progress. So, here it is. The last time I gave an update, I said that Amex responded to our first CFPB complaint. Both my husband and I got a letter saying that they will not give us back 100K points. When it came down to Amex chat, it said that the rep meant that my husband would not lose the points he earned on everyday spending. This is absurd on so many levels.
I went ahead and filed a second CFPB complaint in both of our names. In it I once again asked for points to be reinstated and offered Amex to upgrade back to Platinum if necessary. I also made an argument that any well-trained rep would mention to the customer that he/she would lose 100K points due to conversion. My words: “Surely, you aren’t telling me it’s a conspiracy and Amex wanted to find an excuse to keep the bonus?”
Our requests fell on deaf ears. We got template responses where they said they wouldn’t give us back the sign-up bonus. However, they were “pleased” to inform us that the points earned from everyday spending (3,800 apiece) were ours to keep. How generous. I’m going to be honest, I was starting to feel bad for poor American Express, but not anymore.
So, here is what I’ve decided to do:
- I’ve sent a claim notice to Amex in two separate envelopes. You can find the form here It doesn’t cost anything other than certified postage fees. Currently I’m awaiting an official response from Amex.
- If I don’t hear back soon, I will go ahead and start mediation process. Here are the details from Amex website:
So, basically, in order to start mediation process, I had to first send in a claim. The part that caught my eye is a statement that Amex will pay for mediator. If I’m understanding correctly, that’s not the case with arbitration. See more on it here
And here is the exact wording:
I’m not a lawyer, so all of this legal “speak” is giving me a headache. But it does appear that mediation is the better choice. Additionally, I saw one report on Flyertalk where a person was successful when they chose mediation option, as it’s supposed to be more consumer-friendly. I honestly have no clue if that’s the case or not.
It appears there is a conflict of interest if Amex is the one that chooses a mediator. After all, if they send regular business their way, the firm has an incentive to side with American Express, right? That’s why I’m seriously thinking about starting mediation process myself within the next few days.
If mediation leads nowhere, I’ll look into filing a small claim. In fact, I would do it already, but the cost is substantial. It’s $175, but we may be able to file just one claim for both me and my husband. I’m not positive on that one, but will look into it once (or if) my other efforts fall through. To be honest, I’m willing to invest $350 to see this process completed once and for all.
I plan to claim value of 1.25 cents per MR point, plus lost wages for the time I could have been working on my blog instead. We live in the middle of nowhere, so chances of Amex arbitrator not showing up are pretty good, which means victory by default. I don’t know if we’ll win, but I’m willing to give it a shot. At this point, it’s a matter of principle.
Why I’m not letting it go
Well, I’m not going to lie, the main reason is I would like to get compensated for the loss of our points. Amex is on a witch hunt and it’s time someone stands up to them. Obviously, it’s nothing personal. I get why they took the points, but the bottom line is, I’ve fulfilled the terms and they chose to use a lame excuse to claw them back.
I looked through all the paperwork, and nowhere did it indicate that conversion will result in the loss of points. There is a part that says: “It may take us 6-8 weeks to deposit the bonus.” However, it doesn’t say that once they deposit the points, they might still be in pending status. In fact, it clearly said “earned” in my profile. So, what it amounts to, Amex was looking for any excuse to claw back the bonus, and I’ve conveniently provided it to them. Was I stupid? You bet. But once again, I didn’t break any rules.
I’ve noticed there has been a lot of backlash in the community with folks saying that people like me deserve what happened to us. Fair enough. I’m not trying to come across as some sort of a poor victim. We won’t be starving even if I end up losing in court. I only want to exercise my rights, that’s all. Isn’t it what Amex is doing with clawbacks for manufactured spending? Why is it OK for big corporation to enforce terms, yet it’s sleazy for the little guy to do the same thing?
This hobby revolves around taking advantage of various deals and loopholes. Some, including members of my own family, feel it’s unethical to sign up for bonuses only to dump the card shortly after. I respect this point of view and don’t try to argue and convince them otherwise. My position has always been that it’s OK to take advantage of deals (aggressively marketed by the banks, mind you) as long as you go about it in an honest manner.
I’ve passed on a number of offers because I felt uncomfortable pursuing them. That said, my definition of what’s ethical probably differs from yours’, which is why I do my best not to shove it in people’s faces. But when I feel strongly about something, I speak up. There are shades of grey, and then there is black and white.
Of course, my biggest reason for recording this ordeal is making sure you, the readers, learn from my mistakes. It wouldn’t come to this (I think) if I only kept the card open for another 7 months or so. Plus, Amex may blacklist us for life. Well, somehow I think we’ll survive without Hilton points and Delta miles.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.