Credit card stories.

David Lloyd-Jones (
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 19:12:16 -0400

Donald E. Eastlake 3rd writes:

>American Express has a special center whose sole job is to
>approve/disapprove charges of over $100,000. At peak staffing there are
>22 people working at this center. While these AmericanExpress employees
>are very polite, I believe they sometimes ask supplemental verification

Could very well be. My bet would be that most of their questions are
addressed to the seller, making sure that he understands the meaning
of the word "recourse." :-)

My experience with Amex, always in pre-Golub days, has been that they
are incredibly sloppy at every level. (They and one of the Japanese
banks opened up credit cards in Japan, and I got number 007; given the
persistent rumour spread by my friend Terry Anderson, he of the Beirut
kidnap horror-story, that I worked for the CIA, which I didn't and
don't, this was good for some laughs.) Susie and used to use our Amex
card for just one purpose, trips back to the States every 18 months.
In every case our behaviour was the same: run up a bill of $5~8,000
and pay it off in three equal payments the first three months after we
got back to Japan. The fools could see that on their damn screens.
Nevertheless we always started getting thes phone calls from this
ponce in Florida -- "I'm out on the golf course right now, but
American Express asked me to phone you to express some concern about
your balance..." The first couple of times this happened I went into
canniptions, explaining my cash flow in detail to the guy, over
trans-Pacific phone. The third or fourth time I happened to mention
it to the local Amex guy in the bar of the Press Club and he said "Oh
fuck them. Pay it when you feel like it." Which, as always I did.

My favourite credit card story is one passed on by one of the
Canadians who was briefly held hostage by the Iranians in the
post-Desert Storm work-out, when he and a crew were smashing up some
up country weapons factory. He and his crew were inside the plant,
and the Iranian Army, plus a horde or reporters, were outside. Their
contact with the outside world was one of those reely neet pop-out of
the suitcase folding satellite phones. (This is a generation or two
ago, five or six years, is it? Before the Russian gangster vest-pocket
satellite phone.) So they were staying in touch with New York off the
bird when the Visa lady in England comes on the line to say that their
bill is $2,800 an hour, and they're over their limit.

($2,800 an hour! Great Zobble-gonk, I can remember when we paid that
for a five minute feed from Toronto to Chicago: more bandwidth, but no
satellites and stuff.)

My acqaintance explained briefly who they were, and she said "I shall
have to check that with my syoopervisor." Eat your heart out, Lilly


- -dlj.

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