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Do you lose if you discontinue Amex?
I am seriously considering it as 99% of chargebacks are Amex

 8:21 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Though we have a very low chargeback ratio, our card processor hits us with $25 chargeback fee to rub salt in the wound. A recent analysis shows me that 99% of my chargeback are Amex. Add to this the fact that Amex is more expensive and I am seriously considering discontinuing Amex.

I personally don't know anyone who has an Amex that dosen't have Master/Visa. So, would there be significant sales losses if a site dosen't accept Amex? Anyone have experience with discontinuing Amex?



 9:18 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

I see from your profile, you are not based in the USA.

How many sales do you get from the USA? If not many, discontinue it.

AMEX is very small in other parts of the world when compared to MC/Visa.


 9:43 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

AMEX is fairly small in the US compared to Visa/MC. If almost all of your problems are from them, but they total a relatively small percent of your sales, I'd certainly cut them off.

There are a lot of brick & mortar businesses that don't take AMEX or Discover, and they seem to do OK...


 9:53 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WWW being a global medium, I get traffic from everywhere. US customers are dominant, since the US has the most users. So, US customers do matter.

mivox...thanks for the B&M point.


 10:08 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you sell to businesses, getting rid of Amex might pose a problem. Many small businesses use Amex for purchasing, and don't have regular Visa/MC cards.


 10:18 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

AMEX treat the consumers very well at the expense of the merchants that is why their card holders think they are gods gift and tend to have huge egos.

We have never accepted them because the merchant rates are totally ridiculous. I don't see why I should pay money to people who want to buy our services in cashback and extra benefits.

1.5% from MC and VISA is already still extortionate I think but they are more like 3.5-4% from what I remember and all that moeny goes to massage the egos of their cardholders who normally have a MC or Visa anyway.

Everytime we get someone saying I presume you take Amex I reply saying I presume you have more than one credit card? They seem to think that having an AMEX card gives them the right to use it anywhere. AFAIAK if AMEX don't start treating their merchants better they can sing for our business and AMEX cardholders can open their bloody wallet again and pull out their VISA gold card instead.

2p from me :)


 10:34 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

AmEx Gold still trumps a Visa Gold. Although we accept all four of the major credits in the United States (V/MC/AmEx/Disc), Visa and MasterCard is what 99% of our buyers use. If they really want to buy it for their company, they can get reimbursed later through their company, and use a personal V/MC.


 4:40 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

We're a U.S. brick/mortar retailer plus web. We take MC/Visa/Discover. No AmEx. Maybe we lose one sale a year.

Visit Thailand

 5:14 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

I am in Thailand and there are many stores here who do not accept Amex, however internet sales cannot be compared to brick and mortar as if the customer who has Amex still wants to buy X product but the store does not take it then all s/he has to do is pay by cash - you cannot do that on the interent.

I only have an Amex card as it has the best travel insurance available, so you would probably 99% sure lose my sale.


 5:22 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Namaste I live in south East Asia and have AMEX and nothing else. We also cannot use paypal as some of these countries are not included. If a merchant does not offer AMEX, I go to one that does.

But im just one person. It all depends on your market and how many sales you are prepared to lost. That said im very surprised that AMEX charges have such a high amount of chargebacks compared to the rest. You may find the upside is that there is less fraud. Generally its harder to get AMEX than the bank-related cards. Im not an online merchant, so this opinion is based on my experience as a consumer only!


 5:26 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>(amex) card holders think they are gods gift and tend to have huge egos. <<



 5:33 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>all that moeny (sic) goes to massage the egos of their cardholders who normally have a MC or Visa anyway.<<

Not here...

AMEX have charged higher commissions for 2 decades and still are profitable for their shareholders. I doubt they will change their business model in too much of a hurry.

If you are offering a b-b product service or one to higher income groups, AMEX may be advisable. If just cheaper broad based consumer goods, the others may be enough. [Not only do i enjoy having my ego massaged and that I know I am God's gift and have a deservedly huge ego, I'm also a pragmatist!]


 6:20 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

It very much depends on your target market Namaste.

I use a Centurion, but I would never use it on the web. As nipear indicated, many businesses use Amex for their sales force because they provide a very good set of corporate reports. If you also use recurring billing, that would also drive Amex usage down, since the high interest rate forces most users to pay the balance off at the end of the month. Most people would be afraid forgeting about automatic billing.

Visit Thailand

 7:33 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

brendan: AMEX treat the consumers very well at the expense of the merchants that is why their card holders think they are gods gift and tend to have huge egos.

I have two Amex cards both Gold and both from different countries, one I use purely for the internet and the other everyday useage.

I can safely say, that Amex has never massaged my ego, I think their customer support is appalling, and I dislike them severley and have told them so on many occasion. If it were not for the benefits of travel insurance, ability to pass my points over to my favourite Frequent Flyer programme, other insurance matters plus the fact that it is not actually a credit card I would not use them. But I do and they are the only cards I carry.

But good customer service or not I think for what I need they are the best.

My host a year ago made a decision not to accept them even though they did when I signed up. I spend quite a bit per month and wrote to them that unless they reverse that change and start accepting Amex again I would move all my sites to another host. I cannot have been the only one as they did change back.

ADD IN - Plus I think that there are so many choices now that a viable and long term looking website has to ensure that nearly every option is available to the customers.

Whoever said that they lose only one sale is wrong, word of mouth, that persons friends and family, etc Today the reach is far to wide, so why not accept everything and keep everyone happy rather than los business.


 12:00 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

That was with my merchants hat on before, I too have an AMEX and use it wherever I can because of the cashback and various benefits I get when I spend on it, I too have an ego that needs regular massaging :)

If a merchant is stupid enough to pay AMEX 4% of their sale value I will use my AMEX card and exploit that fact if they only accept Visa/MC then I have no problem using them.

But from a merchants point of view paying 1.5% is more than enough for me and AMEX's merchant fees are ridiculously high based on the fact that anyone who spends regularly on plastic would find it hard to get by with just an AMEX card. If someone came to me and said they would only pay me if they could do it on AMEX I would say ok fine and add a 5% surcharge then I have no problem accepting it.


 1:21 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

OK brendan you were only joking about AMEX users.. No problem.

>>If someone came to me and said they would only pay me if they could do it on AMEX I would say ok fine and add a 5% surcharge then I have no problem accepting it.<<

That's illegal in most countries, though its a common practice...

>>If a merchant is stupid enough to pay AMEX 4% of their sale value<<

So, Brett Tabke is stupid (see top right of page), and millions of merchants worldwide?

Or maybe they know something you dont?

I do agree with you that the comm is high, and i know many merchants who complain from my local resturant to hotels and such. When the new cards came on line 20/35 years again that was their "killer" advantage to users. However for some reason many people do offer AMEX, and I often have to make my decisions on what hotels or restuarants or web sites to frequent/give money to based on whether they off AMEX payment or not.

So you wouldnt get my money, and i wouldnt pay your 5%, especially as you just added a 3 to 4% percent for yourself compared to visa/mc/diners users, and i wouldnt think of using your service again. I would get the feeling you were a shark.

"stupid" is not a great word i think.

When you are the only shop in town you can charge what you like with whatever method you like.

But if you're not, you need to come to a measured decision based on how much custom you lose, vs how much margins you lose. Based on your product and service i would say, and just good business.


 2:35 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

You're quite right chiyo "stupid" is the wrong word. Just because you want to expand your reach it doesn't make you stupid and in some cases you would be fairly smart to do so I feel the problem is this:

All credit cards want equal treatment from the merchant under their terms so AMEX won't let you be a merchant unless you display their logo with all the others and offer no preference on which card you use. Making a surcharge would not nomally be illegal perhaps unlawful though under the terms of your merchants agreement.

How can a merchant provider expect/demand equal treatment if they cost more and are not equal. I find this ridiculous and that is why we are not AMEX merchants and they loose thousands of pounds a year in potential fees from us.

That is my main point however having said that unless I have a soft spot for the mercahnt and don't want them incurrng the extra fees I use my AMEX card everywhere so I can get the extra benefits at the merchants expense. The point here is that most AMEX cardholder like to do the same i.e. use thier amex card where ever they can but most of them also carry an alternative card. So if the merchant offers to accept then thy loose out on an extra 2% for everyone with an AMEX card perhaps more or less. But if they don't then because most AMEX card holders can pay by some other means even if it is less convenient for them to do so then the mercahnt gets the extra.

So the merchant has to balance up how much they want the business of not just the amex card holders but how much they want the business of the people who only have an amex card and no other means of mking payment. In which case I would reffer them to join a visa card issuer and earn a commission on that rather than loose money by accepting AMEX.


 9:09 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

brendan, I like your idea of a surchage of using Amex. That would deter people. This very site is doing it (surchage for paying via 2checkout.com, which in other words implies using Amex), and I have faced this surcharge myself in many establishments. It is then upto the user to enjoy the privelages of Amex at a cost or go with M/V.

I personally find Amex exploiatve of Merchants. Not only are their fees higher, but like I said in the original post, the chargebacks are a real bother.

I am going to try putting a 5% surcharge for Amex and see how much business I lose out on. Will report back here in about 3 weeks on this.


 9:23 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

I forgot to mention a very important part of Amex's practice in my orignal message. Amex has a rule, that, in the event of a chargeback, unless the merchant can provide a SIGNED payslip from the customer, the merchant has NO RECOURSE . This is different from Master/Visa who accept a signed Proof of Delivery as a proof to dispute the chargeback.

So, in the event of Amex it usually so happens that a customer straight says "I didn't place the order" and there is nothing the merchant can do about it. In the case of M/V the chargeback would only be effective for damaged goods or something similar.

This is the main factor behind the high volume of Amex chargebacks.


 6:13 am on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Discover is worth more then Amex. It is the cheapest card for the merchant to accept for fees. I also have never had a charge back on a discover card. We do not accept Amex.

On a personnel note I have not had an Amex card since college. I had a bad experience with them standing behind their purchase guarantee and since than only purchase with Mc/Visa or Discover.

Visit Thailand

 8:40 am on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

namaste:I am going to try putting a 5% surcharge for Amex and see how much business I lose out on. Will report back here in about 3 weeks on this.

Be very careful namaste how you do that, it is, as Chiyo has stated illegal in many places and is very much against Amex terms and conditions etc.

If anyone reports you to Amex you could be in a whole lot of trouble.


A few days ago I wanted to buy around 5 DVD's, ok so it is not overly expensive but I did not have the cash on me and so wanted to pay by Amex, the shop at Panthip Plaza which sells original DVD's I found does not accept Amex.

I therefore had a choice, either inconvenience myself by going to an ATM and pulling more cash or just leaving it.

I left them, I did not need them enough, and I prefer the merchant to appreciate the money I am spending no matter where it comes from. Make it difficult and I walk.


 10:54 am on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Amex has a rule, that, in the event of a chargeback, unless the merchant can provide a SIGNED payslip from the customer, the merchant has NO RECOURSE.

Is it not possible to charge AMEX customers an extra admin fee, post them a payslip to be signed and wait for the payslip to be returned from the customer before shipping the goods? The admin fee would be required to pay for the postage costs (both ways preferably so you can include a stamped addressed envelope for return). It would need to be clearly marked on your site that a signature is required before shipping goods on all AMEX purchases and admin costs must be paid by the customer.

This means that you are charging the fee because of AMEXs policies and not because they charge a higher fee for processing the order.

It would also deter customers using AMEX, because the order will be delayed by several days longer than Visa or Mastercard purchases would take.


 11:41 am on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's a good idea gsx, but I should add that even with MC and Visa you are still on thin ice if you only have a signature that was taken without the cardholder present.

Currently the consumer can very easily chargeback unless the transaction merchant has both a signed voucher and a card imprint/ evidence that the signature was taken while the card was present. Even then if the signature is different or something else is wrong the merchant is liable.

Also what Visit_Thailand says is true it is against the terms and conditions of your merchant agreement unless you have a very special arrangement with AMEX to make a charge to AMEX cardholders that you don't make to everyone else. All the card issuers want their cards to be on equal footing with cash and every other payment method other wise it is bad for their brand.

Say you charge 5% extra for AMEX then any AMEX cardholder using you could be put off using their card elsewhere for fear of hidden fees and that can really hit AMEX's profits. So not only would they revoke your agreement but they would also probably consider sueing you because what you did was unlawful.

If you do want to do it you should do it for all cards but we found the best way to do it is to put your price for everything up 5% to cover it then nobody knows the difference.


 1:13 am on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

99% of our chargebacks come from Amexp consumers. Having once been a Amexp card holder, I know from experience that Amexp "almost" encourages their card holders to complain about almost anything. When they do, the Merchant gets a chargeback. The only exception is large customers, such as, car rental companies.

The other important issue is if you do business with business, specifically small businesses. Amexp targets small business as card holders. I know many small businesses that ONLY have one credit card, Amexp.

I have also seen some Merchants display VISA and MC. If the customer insist on using Amexp, then and only then, will they take Amexp. This probably violates their agreement with Amexp, these Merchants don't really care if they lose Amexp.

Some Amexp card holders know that Amexp is on their side, and will attempt to abuse Merchants. We had one Amexp customer take our UPS account number and started to ship packages with it. When we protested, he filed a complaint with Amexp, and they honored it. After we sent Amexp E-mail messages from the card holder showing his attempts to black-mail our company, Amexp sided with us. But, we lost a lot of time fighting the chargeback.

Our position on Chargebacks is that if we are right, fight the charge back relentlessly. If we are wrong, then concede quickly, and credit the card holder immediately. This creates a "good" record with them.


 3:21 am on Jan 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

My data is a bit older, but a few years ago when I went through the same evaluation process, my average order on Amex was about 30% higher. You can never really tell how many orders you really gained, as many cardholders have multiple cards. Nevertheless, at the time I concluded that a couple of points in fees was worth the bigger Amex orders.


 8:44 am on Feb 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

You know from a cardholder/consumer point of view, I prefer to pay with my Amex as disputing charges is a lot easier (no hassle). What with the verified by visa program - VISA is going to make it more difficult if not - near impossible for cardholders to dispute their charges. So if you are thinking of dropping AMEX - you might want to consider all these aspects.

When hackers start collecting Verified by Visa password and card numbers (believe me it is easy to do this) - cardholders are going to start putting their VISA cards away for online purchases and use MC or AMEX or Discover.


 9:17 am on Feb 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

But from a merchants point of view paying 1.5% is more than enough for me and AMEX's merchant fees are ridiculously high based on the fact that anyone who spends regularly on plastic would find it hard to get by with just an AMEX card.

Just about sums it up. But....

Depends on what countries your business comes from. Running a UK bricks & mortar business, we do not accept AmEX and do not lose business from that decision. But I would accept there may be some countries (viz this discusion above) where Amex may be the only way customers are prepared to pay.

However if I was in your position, I would cut Amex, save the 3% difference in commission between it and Visa/MC where people hve the choice.

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