Posted by Chuck on February 25, 2020
Credit Cards

Published on February 25th, 2020 | by Chuck

183

American Express Claws Back Airline Credits Which Were Refunded By Merchant

American Express just sent out a mass email that they are removing airline credits which were already credited back by the merchant. For example, if you charged an airline incidental fee to your Amex card, then cancelled the charge and got a refund by merchant. The Amex system ‘didn’t realize’ that the charge was refunded by merchant and they credited you with the refund, essentially resulting in double-refund.

Now, Amex will be debiting all of those 2019 credits. Someone uploaded an image of the letter here. Lots of people getting a bunch of clawbacks from this. Even on closed cards, you’ll probably get a bill in the mail for this.

We’ve seen lots of these kinds of claw backs from Amex over the past couple of years for credits which they didn’t feel were justified. Going forward, it’s worth assuming that nothing ‘works’ other than the intended usage of this and other Amex credits.

Please: No discussions of ideas, tips, methods that ‘work’ in the comments; keep that in your private chats.



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OyVey
OyVey

BRB, getting my popcorn ready

Chuckee
Chuckee

Aw, I don’t wanna get up, grab some for me while your up, please.

LC
LC

Little known fact, Chuckee & Daniel work for Amex’s RAT and regualry visit Doc after their team sends out RAT notices.

Forgot to send me mine 😉

Sa
Sa

Did Amex hire some churner? Or is it an easy job now with all the blogs?

Daniel
Daniel

Mine as well. I like plenty of butter and salt with it please.

sam
sam

Amex has plenty of salt!

OxyTrojan
OxyTrojan

How dare AmEx not pay cardholders twice when they don’t deserve it.

cc
cc

They didn’t. You need to increase your reading comprehension.

Mr Blonde
Mr Blonde

Yeah more like how dare AMEX not get any backlash for retroactively applying their terms and making it near impossible to use a heavily advertised feature of the their high fee card.

Andysol
Andysol

Where is the backlash? Please direct me there

MrObvious
MrObvious

Actually, where did they change their terms? Didn’t realize their terms said they could not take back points on returned items? They do it all the time on points earned or Amex Offers.

Jason
Jason

MrObvious there’s a gigantic difference between promptly clawing back the points after a return and months/years laters sending you a bill because they’ve changed their minds about how something processed.

MrObvious
MrObvious

You are perfectly free to not play their rewards game by their terms if you’d like. No one is forcing you to participate.

NoLuck

That sounds like a something a teenager would post. With your logic any company can do anything to any person who voluntarily does business with them. But you forget the fact that Amex writes the terms and they can write them poorly. You forget that Amex writes the software and programs that run everything and if that system makes mistakes it is the fault of Amex. You forget that a computer program did not catch this problem in real time as it should have.

I have never done business with Amex so I do not have a dog in this fight but if AMEX had written their terms and coding properly then they would not have to claw back anything because their system would have done it automatically months ago.

NoLuck

I do not have any amex cards, but In my opinion it’s even worse than amex changing their minds. They did not anticipate this problem so they did not use proper coding or logic when writing their computer systems or when writing their terms and conditions.

Amex made two mistakes if not three. Their terms and conditions were ambiguous and their coding was trash and they took to long to correct the problem. In fact this was also the problem with those $5 clawbacks. The system allowed itself to be gamed and then it took them months to correct the problem they should have anticipated.

A company such as Amex should have better coders who anticipate these return issues so the credits on returns would have been instantly taken back. Of course returns are common so I do not understand how it took Amex a year to figure this out. They should have eaten the cost because it was their comedy of errors that caused the problem.

qmc
qmc

> making it near impossible to use(*) a heavily advertised feature of the their high fee card

> (*) in the manner in which they clearly did not intend, and in many cases have written in the terms as explicitly disallowed.

Footnoted that for you.

Jason
Jason

Maybe try increasing your own? It’s high-school level comprehension.

AMEX applied incidental fee credits. But the airlines canceled or refunded the charges. So AMEX is reversing its credits. Got it now?

raj
raj

Reading comprehension? Quote above “essentially resulting in double-refund.” People paid for something, got credit for it, then also refunded it. There’s no reasonable expectation that this should work, even if retroactive clawbacks are heavy handed.

Yana
Yana

I’m pretty sure OxyTrojan was being sarcastic.

FlyGuy
FlyGuy

reading is fundamental. no one paid cardholders twice.

SteveForDOC
SteveForDOC

Refund from airline and credit from Amex. Isn’t that twice?

Matt
Matt

It’s a very semantic argument and is neither here nor there really. But… people were “paid” once.

(Quotation marks around ‘paid” because “paid” isn’t exactly an accurate word to describe this, But “paid” is what everybody above is using, so I’ll use it as well.)

For example: Purchase $100 + Refund $100 = $0. Then comes the Amex credit for $100.

So people were “paid” once. To be “paid” twice, you would need to ignore the initial purchase that began all of this.

People purchased once, were refunded once, and received a credit once (which resulted in being “paid” once).

Lc
Lc

We have a rat.

MoreSun
MoreSun

At least give people a chance to use them again. Which they won’t. They were just testing the waters with those Dell clawbacks. “Error” my ass…

MrDioji
MrDioji

This is what is totally unacceptable, and people should fight Amex on. If Amex was mistakenly reimbursing non-eligible charges, that is Amex’s fault. The charges were reimbursed and the fee credit tracker would go down accordingly. Decisions were then made by consumers about whether they should upgrade seats, pay for bags, etc. based on the fact that their fee credit has been exhausted. Amex made an error, and needs to deal with the consequences of their error. If Amex really wants to recoup their error, they should issue fee credit vouchers so people are given the opportunity to use advertised credits. Otherwise they are taking unfair and deceptive measures.

MrObvious
MrObvious

So how many of these upgrades did you refund beyond the Amex travel incidentals? Or was it just a coincidence that it was just the same amount as you had incidental fees for?

Jason
Jason

MrDioji what happens if you’ve closed any of the cards that they’re clawing back the credit from? Then you have no way to use the credit voucher.

I think the bigger issue here is that Amex feels entitled to do these clawbacks months/years after the fact when they change their mind about how something processed. It’s clearly bullshit. It’s one thing if they catch it promptly but when so much time has passed they should just be preventing it from happening going forward and leaving people alone on Amex’s past screwup/change of heart.

MrDioji
MrDioji

Yeah the implementation would be wonky and I think Amex should just let their error stand. However, the implementatjon of some sort of voucher system should be the absolute extreme of what they should even consider. Just backcharging cardmembers is absurd.

JB
JB

I must have been away when that was happening. I never got anything clawed back for using the dell credit with the 10% back offer. My wife recently took a flight and ordered a drink, but changed her mind. The flight attendant had to refund it (since they charged the card very quickly), and charged her again for the different drink. I got both reimbursed and neither clawed back

Master Allan
Master Allan

I think the point here is you will in time when somebody at corporate AMEX decides this pinched them. Nothing happened to you yet. Maybe you will close the card. Later you’ll move to a bigger house. Sadly one day you will pass away and your descendants will receive a threatening letter in the mail from AMEX demanding $6 for an undrunk airline cocktail plus daily compounding interest or face our legal team.

LC
LC

my cards are closed. What are they going to do, send me a bill in the mail?

So far so good, guess i found a long term working loop hole after all!

Anon
Anon

Likely

Mr Blonde
Mr Blonde

Yes. They will.

Andysol
Andysol

Yes

Jason
Jason

Yes. This is what they did when they started clawing back Biz Plat people who stacked the Dell credit with the Dell 10% off.

LC
LC

never got mine clawed back. Guess im lucky

debit
debit

You may have an unpaid balance. They sent me a statement on my closed account and then took money out from my auto pay as if the account was open.

You can either pay or let them screw your credit for $10.

LC
LC

i mean if they send me a statement bill of course ill pay it, but i am not worried. What I made with this loophole wouldnt break me if they took it back. In fact, if i didnt do it i would have made nothing. So it was worth the risk.

Suck it Amex!

MrObvious
MrObvious

Remember that Staples clawbacks came in at least two waves. Your time will come.

LC
LC

oh no im so scared! not

Sa
Sa

wow, how much time did they leave you before auto paying themselves?

Anastasia
Anastasia

They only clawed $1.22 from me, lol. I’m happy that I kept the card in my online account after closing it 3-4 months earlier: I was able to see negative balance right away and it only took 3 clicks to pay.

Tommy boy
Tommy boy

Yes, they will most definitely send you a bill. They’ve done it in the past over much smaller $10 credits, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t come after you here for what could be as much as $200.

BUT_WHY_MALE_M0DELS
BUT_WHY_MALE_M0DELS

amex will absolutely send you a bill

ryd994
ryd994

They can still make adjustments to your closed account. Just that new purchases are not allowed.

LC
LC

Guess we will see. So far notta!

FreeIsGood
FreeIsGood

so how far back can they go with clawbacks? seems like they could look for gift cards in 2019 too. and 2018…

Andysol
Andysol

Smart. You should give them more ideas.

FreeIsGood
FreeIsGood

If you think they don’t know about gift cards…

Andysol
Andysol

Let’s just keep reminding them and keep it top of mind. Especially anytime there’s a breaking front page story.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Ssxx
Ssxx

If you didn’t want people to talk about it, why’d you break the news on Reddit and pin your post to the top of the thread?

Andysol
Andysol

I posted something about gift cards and pinned it to the top? Please direct me there.

You think people weren’t going to start posting DPs about this situation? I got ahead of it before the first DP came out.

You’re welcome.

Ssxx
Ssxx

There are dedicated flyertalk threads and highly publicized credit card blogs posting this stuff. It isn’t like Amex doesn’t know. They just don’t care until enough people start doing it. Well, enough people started doing it do they killed it. No use trying to keep quiet something that is already dead. Chuck probably saw your post on r/churning and write up this article on DOC. He literally used the same picture you posted. If you didn’t want people discuss it, not sure why you post about it.

Andysol
Andysol

You do realize there is a difference between discussing things that have been shut down and just happened and stuff that hasn’t happened yet, right?

My point is that people need to shut up about stuff that hasn’t closed down or been clawed back.

How many times does this stuff need to happen before people learn to keep their mouths shut?

Dan - Legal Bank Robber
Dan - Legal Bank Robber

Let’s use a little common sense before you posts. He controlled the situation with little knowledge known yet and little DP’s. Don’t be ignorant. Ssxx Andysol

Sa
Sa

Ouch, I started laughing and then froze.

Abey
Abey

Still trying to figure out which incidental charge I could purchase and later cancel.

LC
LC

id say but dont want to give the RAT any ideas they may not know about.

MoreSun
MoreSun

Spoiler alert: the answer is now none.

Luke
Luke

Southwest rebooking! Buy a cheap flight, and rebook for the more expensive one you actually want.

debit
debit

My alaska amex offer was clawed back. But i canceled the ticket within 24 hrs so didn’t expect it to work anyway and that was not why i had purchased it.

But once they claw back they should reinstate the amex offer.

qmc
qmc

They do credit back to AO that are cumulative, e.g. multiple purchases at vendor X. However, for credits that are for a single purchase, it’s good once … even if said vendor splits up your $100 order into $2 item and $98 item and bills them in that order.

If you want to be all ‘fair’ about all these credits, then I suspect most people would be opposed because they’d come out behind overall…

Jason
Jason

I could understand if Amex was correcting these things within a reasonable amount of time but I’m really struggling to believe that it’s regulatorily compliant to reach back 12+ months like they’ve been doing with some of their recent clawbacks. Doubly so in a case like this where we all know they’re not going to give you a chance to use the old credit in a manner they deem acceptable, they’re going to just tell you you’re SOL on retroactively seizing the benefit.

And for the airline credit in particular it might at least be for a worthwhile amount of money on their end, but I really don’t understand why they’ve been deciding to burn through goodwill to try to collect less than a dollar on long-closed accounts from things like the Biz Plat Dell credit/10% stack.

TC_PNW/BOS
TC_PNW/BOS

https://forms.gle/BSKZUtgEURkQ1WpDA

Submit your DPs here so we can all get info on what is causing these clawbacks.

SteveForDOC
SteveForDOC

What are you going to do with the submissions?

MrObvious
MrObvious

Submit it to his boss at Amex.

h xu
h xu

Wondering how far amex could go back to perform transaction matching

Sa
Sa

stop bouncing these ideas, this hurts.

Cjrmets
Cjrmets

Hopefully you’re their test case

JB SanDiego
JB SanDiego

I just got out from a ~4 month suspension and Amx means business, to say the least!!
I would tread water carefully.

Unfortunately, I have no use of my MRs because coronavirus is causing havoc on travel plans. Worst yet, there is a high possibility on my booked travel to Europe in June will be cancelled.

LC
LC

nobody is afraid of amex. worst case scenario we just close are card accounts. ive already gotten 95% of all the card bonuses. Not worth keeping their cards past that anyways

Joseph
Joseph

Why a high probability of your Europe flight being cancelled?

JB SanDiego
JB SanDiego

That’s if I cancel my trip altogether due to the coronavirus going pandemic.

Tic
Tic

Been doing this for years, across a bunch of different cards.
I’d be broke if I get clawed by the rabid RATS

Dan
Dan

amex begging everyone to cancel their cards…

Ryan
Ryan

I already did that. They pissed me off and I closed more than 5 cards. I won’t say the exact number but I ended up closing them all. Now they’re trying to get my business back by sending me pre-approved offers in the mail with big SUB’s.

LC
LC

and the cycle continues! #winning

MrObvious
MrObvious

“More than 5 but won’t say the number…” hahahahahahahahahahahaha

Ryan
Ryan

Well I’m definitely not going to say the exact number. Let’s just say I had A LOT of AMEX cards.

Z
Z

> they’re trying to get my business back by sending me pre-approved offers in the mail with big SUB’s

Not necessarily “trying to get” your business back… that may be just machines randomly deciding to send out offers in mail based on your credit score — AmEx does not really care.

Kevin
Kevin

You do realize the computers are programmed by humans? And humans decide what factors are used to send mail (which costs them money, however small of an amount, but it still does)? If “AmEx,” who is not a person but a company and therefore I guess can’t technically care anyway, didn’t want them as a customer they wouldn’t be getting letters.

raj
raj

Well, non-profitable customers.

Red
Red

Thank u Gary Leff for the recent circles and arrows.

Brad
Brad

I wonder what would happen in case of rebooking later down the line but it wasn’t seen as a “credit.” For example SW has free cancellation, if i used (legitimately) but canceled then used it months later on the Platinum for the same amount that wasn’t “credited” would they try to take that back? I’ll probably end up canceling the card if I end up getting affected by this, it would definitely be too much work to use the credits at that point.

Jason
Jason

If you canceled after 24 hours and the refund was in the form of Southwest travel funds instead of being put back on the original card used to pay, I don’t see how they’d know you canceled.

Brad
Brad

I usually do put it back on CC just so I don’t have to keep track of SW travel funds. But once I spend the AMEX fee for the year I cross it off my list so I can’t be sure of that either and it’s too late to go back to 2019 to comb my statements. Again just too hard to work to use a “benefit.”

James L
James L

The point is that you can’t credit back to credit card after 24 hours. You can only get travel bank credit.

Raylan
Raylan

Way to (probably) kill another workaround.

Raylan
Raylan

They do now.

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