Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm no longer accepting American Express

I've decided to no longer accept American Express credit cards at my shows. After long and careful consideration, I've decided it just isn't worth it. I originally signed up for American Express after hearing stories from another artist who said large sales increased after he started accepting AmEx. I was hoping it would do something similar for me, or at the very least, have zero impact. Instead, what it has done is increase my expenses.

When I first signed up for AmEx, I was allowed to sign up under a plan that would only cost me a small percentage of each sale. It was comparable to what I was getting for Visa/MasterCard/Discover, so I was happy to take it. In that first year, only got a few sales with AmEx. One was from a friend, and the other was from a lady who had nothing but an AmEx card on here (which she humorously carried between her breasts). That was only a $20 sale, but it was $20 I wouldn't have received otherwise, so I figured it was a good thing I decided to go for AmEx. For the rest of the year....that was it for AmEx.

By the second year, AmEx forced me to switch to a flat rate plan, which mean I would be paying $6 a month, but nothing more. I figured I'd stick with it. However, I started an experiment. Everytime someone payed with an AmEx card, I'd ask them a what if: "I'm just doing a survey of my customers. What if I didn't accept AmEx? Would you have had another way to pay?" For the rest of the year, in every single case, the answer was yes. So, it was looking like AmEx wasn't gaining me a thing. Yet, for some stupid reason, I didn't have the guts to stop carrying the card, so I continued to pay the fee.

This year was year 3, and I continued my experiment throughout the year, with exactly the same results. If I were to drop AmEx, it would cost me nothing in sales. However, this year, AmEx did something different. They started charging me a fee each time I had an AmEx transaction (on top of the flat rate fee).

Enough was enough. American Express gained me absolutely nothing in sales (other than $20 one time), and cost me quite a bit in fees. It made absolutely no sense to accept the card, so I cancelled my account with them. When I called, I thought I was going to have to spend a bunch of time, talk with a rep, and maybe get offered some sort of deal to continue carrying it. However, the automated system had a menu option explicitly for canceling (a rare feature with automated phone systems these days), and I was able to cancel without speaking to anyone.

It's sad that about the best thing I can say about my whole AmEx experience is that it was painless to cancel.

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