Amex Offer Staples 10% Clawbacks

Old Sep 4, 18, 10:21 am
  #1  
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Amex Offer Staples 10% Clawbacks

As reported at Doctor of Credit and many other sites, Amex posted a rash of statement credit reversals to cardholders who took advantage of the 10% back at Staples OPEN business offer that came out on June 1 and expires November 30, 2018.

They are claiming the limit is $100 per cardmember, and that even if you have multiple cards with them, you should only receive $100 in total across all your cards.

Although on August 1, Amex fixed their system to only allow one offer to be added per person (based on SSN tracking), prior to this the offer would appear on multiple cards held by one person, including personal cards through this URL (no longer works): https://americanexpress.com/domorebusiness

Amex is reversing any credits received beyond $100 per SSN. If you have additional cardmembers (authorized users), they are clawing back those credits too if credits exceeded $100 across all cards held by one person. It does not matter if you had business cards for multiple different businesses. They sent out a lot of emails at the end of August ("We’ve made an adjustment to your account"), and have said they will be doing more clawbacks in October and December, for cardmembers who previously added the offer to multiple cards but have not yet taken advantage of it.

Many people are saying they are justified because customers are ripping them off, while others are saying this is fraudulent of Amex to reverse credits that were received months ago. There are times in the past when they have reversed Membership Rewards points (leaked offer links), but not Amex Offers.

Interestingly, they are not going after people for having purchased Visa/MC GCs specifically.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 10:50 am
  #2  
mia
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Amex Offers is an advertising program. The 10% refund offer is from Staples through American Express. It may well be that the clawback decision was made by Staples. We have a REPORT of staples.com cancelling orders in July to effectively limit refunds to $100 per household.

Also there is already discussion in at least three threads:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manu...l#post30149335

2018 Shutdown Thread

Are you getting rid of the SPG Card now?
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Old Sep 4, 18, 12:36 pm
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
Amex Offers is an advertising program. The 10% refund offer is from Staples through American Express. It may well be that the clawback decision was made by Staples. We have a REPORT of staples.com cancelling orders in July to effectively limit refunds to $100 per household.

Also there is already discussion in at least three threads:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manu...l#post30149335

2018 Shutdown Thread

Are you getting rid of the SPG Card now?
I think an additional thread solely for this topic is beneficial. There is a separate thread for this issue on Dan's Deals and on Reddit.

Amex Offers are joint ventures between merchants and American Express. The decision to claw back is certainly a joint one. Some are speculating that Staples is refusing to pay out because Amex failed to limit to one per person. However, Amex could contest this, or eat the loss. For example, there were several companies that went bankrupt where Newegg advertised their mail-in rebates, and Newegg offered gift cards for the amounts of the rebate as a courtesy.

As for the canceled online orders of GCs if paid with Amex, while this is true, to my knowledge there was no memo to stores to prevent in-store purchases. I and others had no problems purchasing Visa GCs with our Amex cards at B&M stores. Of course, many of us did this without waiting for a discount offer, paying $34.75 in fees per $1,000, which means we may now be losing money due to the $100 credits being reversed.

Here are the offer terms. One item that is clear now is that a "Card Member" is a customer of American Express. Even if you have 5 different cards with them, you are limited to $100 of total credits across all these cards. Additional cardmembers can receive up to $100 each, however (across all cards they have with Amex).

Must first add offer to Card and then use same Card to redeem. Only U.S.-issued American Express® Business Cards are eligible to enroll. Your enrollment of an eligible American Express Card for this offer extends only to that Card. Limit of $100 in total statement credits per American Express® Card Member. Offer valid in-store, via the Staples mobile app and online at Staples.com. Valid at participating locations in US. Not valid on purchases shipped outside of the US. Valid on US website only. Excludes Quill, Smilemaker, Staples Business Advantage, Staples 4 Government, Staples Toner Services, Staples Technology Solutions, Staples Promotional Products, Staples Print Solutions, Copy and Printing Services, Staples Contract and Commercial, Staples App Center, Staples Industrial, Staples Book Rental, Staples Simplexity, Staples Share Fund, Coastwide Labs, Catalog and Staples Fundraising. Not valid for gift cards in bulk purchases. Offer is non-transferable. Statement credit will appear on your billing statement within 90 days after 11/30/18, provided that American Express receives information from the merchant about your qualifying purchase. Note that American Express may not receive information about your qualifying purchase from merchant until all items from your qualifying purchase have been provided/shipped by merchant. Statement credit may be reversed if qualifying purchase is returned/cancelled. If American Express does not receive information that identifies your transaction as qualifying for the offer, you will not receive the statement credit. For example, your transaction will not qualify if it is not made directly with the merchant. In addition, in most cases, you may not receive the statement credit if your transaction is made with an electronic wallet or through a third party or if the merchant uses a mobile or wireless card reader to process it. By adding an offer to a Card, you agree that American Express may send you communications about the offer. POID: GB5E:0001

Notes: When the offer could be added to personal cards, it still said it was only for Business Cards. $100 credits were still received (and now reversed). "Bulk purchases" of gift cards are not something any of us were doing, as Staples has a separate program for events such as corporate raffles.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 12:48 pm
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I actually think this is really smart by Amex. They found a somewhat legiitimate way to fire back directly at MS'ers and churners. It likely only affects a customer base they want to loose. If Amex cares about your relationship (and they might), they can reverse the clawback when you complain or cancel. I have used the offer, but only on 2 business cards and I have not received the clawback yet. I did take my time to use the offers. Either way, I will tread carefuly with Amex now. I take advantage of lots of deals and I violate T&C's all the time. I will get caught once in a while. Thats ok, In the big picture, I know I am way ahead. I suggest not spending so much time being angry or upset and just put a ltttle effort in complaining to amex if you want.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 1:02 pm
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Originally Posted by chaser123 View Post
I actually think this is really smart by Amex. They found a somewhat legiitimate way to fire back directly at MS'ers and churners. It likely only affects a customer base they want to loose. If Amex cares about your relationship (and they might), they can reverse the clawback when you complain or cancel. I have used the offer, but only on 2 business cards and I have not received the clawback yet. I did take my time to use the offers. Either way, I will tread carefuly with Amex now. I take advantage of lots of deals and I violate T&C's all the time. I will get caught once in a while. Thats ok, In the big picture, I know I am way ahead. I suggest not spending so much time being angry or upset and just put a ltttle effort in complaining to amex if you want.
Well, if they want to lose these customers why not do clawbacks and shutdowns? They could easily blacklist the customers who received multiple credits, in addition to reversing the credits.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 9:59 pm
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I also had a bunch of $$ reversed by Amex, and I want it back. I hope we can use this thread to discuss what methods would be most effective, and what arguments can be used. I realize that some people will feel that what Amex has done is appropriate, but that's not going to be helpful to people who want to try to get their money back.
Here are some things that I am considering doing:
1. Dispute the charge. Amex has cleverly disabled that option online, but it should still be possible to mail a letter. The argument would be that the charge by Amex is unauthorized, and thus defined as a "billing error" by the FCBA. A billing error has several definitions, including this one: "A reflection on a statement of goods or services not accepted by the obligor or his designee or not delivered to the obligor or his designee in accordance with the agreement made at the time of a transaction." So the claim would be that when you spent $1000 at Staples, the agreement was that Amex/Staples would credit $100, and there was no agreement that Amex would re-charge the $100 if they re-interpreted the rules or didn't get paid by Staples, and therefore the $100 charge is a billing error.
Also I could argue that it's not at all clear that "limit $100 per card member" means "limit $100 per person". If they meant $100 per person, why not say so? What is a "card member" anyway? It's not even "cardmember". It's "card member". Card member could mean just card, which is how Amex interpreted it before Staples got all mad. Now, those of you with a bunch of Amex cards in your name, go get them and take a look. I bet a bunch of them have different values under "member since". That wouldn't be possible if member meant person. Clearly member means card to Amex.

2. I could write to my senator Elizabeth Warren, who is no big fan of banks, and ask her to intervene. There is not that much chance that would solve the problem, but who knows, it's an election year, and she may want to go the extra mile.

3. There's always small claims, which may be the only thing that ultimately works. Those who had issues with Amex and cyberrebate back in 2001 will remember that only those who sued Amex ever got any of the money they were owed. In my state (Massachusetts) you can sue for up to $5000 in small claims, and also ask for triple damages if you can show unfair and deceptive business practices. If Amex is sticking customers with the bill because Staples got mad and refused to pay, that sounds unfair and deceptive to me.

Any other ideas?
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Old Sep 13, 18, 7:26 am
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Aren't staples purchases L3 reported and Cash equivalent gift cards excluded. Do you want eyes on your account?
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Old Sep 13, 18, 7:33 am
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Originally Posted by UserMark View Post
Any other ideas?
4. Adopt the philosophy of "win some, lose some." Move on to the next deal.
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Old Sep 13, 18, 7:34 am
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Originally Posted by Adirondacker View Post
Aren't staples purchases L3 reported and Cash equivalent gift cards excluded. Do you want eyes on your account?
Yep...another cliche comes to mind:

"The nail that sticks up gets hammered down."
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Old Sep 13, 18, 7:35 am
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Originally Posted by UserMark View Post
I also had a bunch of $$ reversed by Amex, and I want it back. I hope we can use this thread to discuss what methods would be most effective, and what arguments can be used. I realize that some people will feel that what Amex has done is appropriate, but that's not going to be helpful to people who want to try to get their money back.
Here are some things that I am considering doing:
1. Dispute the charge. Amex has cleverly disabled that option online, but it should still be possible to mail a letter. The argument would be that the charge by Amex is unauthorized, and thus defined as a "billing error" by the FCBA. A billing error has several definitions, including this one: "A reflection on a statement of goods or services not accepted by the obligor or his designee or not delivered to the obligor or his designee in accordance with the agreement made at the time of a transaction." So the claim would be that when you spent $1000 at Staples, the agreement was that Amex/Staples would credit $100, and there was no agreement that Amex would re-charge the $100 if they re-interpreted the rules or didn't get paid by Staples, and therefore the $100 charge is a billing error.
Also I could argue that it's not at all clear that "limit $100 per card member" means "limit $100 per person". If they meant $100 per person, why not say so? What is a "card member" anyway? It's not even "cardmember". It's "card member". Card member could mean just card, which is how Amex interpreted it before Staples got all mad. Now, those of you with a bunch of Amex cards in your name, go get them and take a look. I bet a bunch of them have different values under "member since". That wouldn't be possible if member meant person. Clearly member means card to Amex.

2. I could write to my senator Elizabeth Warren, who is no big fan of banks, and ask her to intervene. There is not that much chance that would solve the problem, but who knows, it's an election year, and she may want to go the extra mile.

3. There's always small claims, which may be the only thing that ultimately works. Those who had issues with Amex and cyberrebate back in 2001 will remember that only those who sued Amex ever got any of the money they were owed. In my state (Massachusetts) you can sue for up to $5000 in small claims, and also ask for triple damages if you can show unfair and deceptive business practices. If Amex is sticking customers with the bill because Staples got mad and refused to pay, that sounds unfair and deceptive to me.

Any other ideas?
Honestly, this sounds like a good way to get yourself banned from Amex. Is a few hundred to low thousands of dollars worth the hassle and potential loss of future payouts from Amex? In my case $200 definitely isn't worth it, and I think I'd have to be into the mid four figures to even consider it. The potential future earnings are too high to miss out on.

On top of that though, assuming it was pure MS and you still got one credit, you're likely not out that much money once you factor in any point earnings. Let's assume you used the offer on 11 cards, getting 55 $200's from Staples. You paid $382.50 in fees on the gc plus worst case $55 in mo fees for a total of $437.25. Subtract out $100 credit, and $113.82 for the points and your true worst case loss is only $223.43. More likely, liquidation costs were lower, the value of the points earned was higher, and not many people were hitting the offer on 11+ cards.

It stings to have this reversed for sure, but try to keep things in perspective...
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Old Sep 13, 18, 7:51 am
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Originally Posted by dealhunter32 View Post
Well, if they want to lose these customers why not do clawbacks and shutdowns? They could easily blacklist the customers who received multiple credits, in addition to reversing the credits.
I think that AMEX wants the business, not the cheating. If they have found a way to eliminate the latter, then they will want to keep the former.

The least logical thing to do is call attention to your account by contesting the clawbacks. Then they will want to both re-capture the charge and eliminate the cheater.
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Old Sep 13, 18, 10:09 am
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Originally Posted by Adirondacker View Post
Aren't staples purchases L3 reported and Cash equivalent gift cards excluded. Do you want eyes on your account?
I've looked through the cardmember agreements, and they don't actually say that Membership Rewards points can't be earned on gift cards/prepaid cards/cash equivalents. The agreements for sign-up bonuses do say this, and possibly for 5%/6% back with BlueCash at grocery/pharmacy, but not for general spending. Additionally, the Staples 10% offer itself did not exclude gift cards, except in "bulk purchases" which did not apply to any of us.
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Old Sep 13, 18, 11:20 am
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When staples.com cancelled my orders, they said it was because of the Amex 10% deal, and that it wasn't supposed to be good for "bulk" gift card purchases. What exactly is a bulk purchase? How do you know you're making a bulk purchase? Who knows. I can't find any info at staples.com about it. "Bulk" must be in the eye of the beholder.
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Old Sep 13, 18, 2:14 pm
  #14  
mia
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Originally Posted by dealhunter32 View Post
.... don't actually say that Membership Rewards points can't be earned on gift cards/prepaid cards/cash equivalents. ....
Look here:

https://rewards.americanexpress.com/...=footer-tandc#

The following transactions aren't eligible purchases and you won't earn points for them:

Cash Advances
Balance Transfers
Express Cash
Corporate Express Cash
Purchases of American Express® Travelers Cheques or American Express® Gift Cheques
Purchases paid with points
Purchases and loads of reloadable prepaid cards
Purchases of cash equivalents
Card account fees and charges (such as late payment fees, Card account annual fees, interest charges and delinquency charges)
Membership Rewards program fees and charges (such as program annual fees)
Fees for Card Member services you enroll in
American Express Gift Cards purchased online
Person-to-person payments
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Old Sep 13, 18, 2:50 pm
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Those Visas at Staples and everywhere else are not reloadable, and clearly not Amex gift cards purchased online. Are they cash equivalents? What is Amex's definition of "cash equivalent" anyway? It's not anywhere in those terms. I guess Amex will know it when they see it.
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