AMEX has done the impossible – it has eclipsed CapitalOne as the laziest and/or stupidest financial services company in the US. How you might ask? The short answer is: refusing to process as "suspicious" a $ 250 donation to The National Health Law Program. As described on its web site, "NHeLP protects and advances the health rights of low income and underserved individuals. The oldest non-profit of its kind, NHeLP advocates, educates and litigates at the federal and state level."
The longer story is as follows. Advocacy groups cleverly came up with the idea of Giving Tuesday as a follow on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So, the email inbox today included requests for donations from a range of groups. For example, requests from highly suspicious groups (sarcasm intended), including:
Lynn Sage Foundation for breast cancer
Imerman’s Angels, peer support for persons with cancer
NHeLP – health insurance advocacy for low income persons
Normally I am a planned giver, but NHeLP’s message stood out because the email stated that an anonymous donor was going to match all monies taken in today by NHeLP. And, the day at our office today started with my wonderful paralegal talking about her friend with widespread ovarian cancer and no health insurance (but a kind doctor performed surgery to remove the tumor despite the lack of insurance). So, out came my personal AMEX card and my wonderful assistant agreed to process the donation for me while I ran off to a lunch. Oddly, however, she said the card kept being rejected, for no apparent reason.
As it turns out, AMEX refused to process the $250 donation transaction – on Giving Tuesday – was viewed as "suspicious." How do I know that? Because on returning from lunch, my cell phone held a voicemail message from AMEX’ card security group.