How American Express (Amex) is no longer the customer friendly company it was

There was a time when American Express was considered to be the most consumer friendly card company. Usually comprising of a wealthy clientele, It was supposed to solve all consumer issues in a breeze and in a fair manner to the consumer.

Thankfully till now I never really had a dispute with a merchant that would need this mediation, however this July was the first time I did. I went to Sam’s club and bought a $100 membership from them. I split that membership charge onto 2 credit cards, 2 American Express credit cards to be more precise, $45 and $55.

When the charges settled, I saw that both my cards had been charged $100, obviously some computer system somewhere had a bug. I thought this is something which Amex would easily resolve. After all both the cards I used to make the purchases carry an annual fee and I consider Amex to be the best in customer service. But, boy oh boy, I was going to be proven wrong. Initially, American Express did not believe me and asked me to submit proof of the overcharging. This is even before they contact the merchant. I submitted the proof along with a description of what had exactly conspired. I have pasted the letter and the receipt below redacting crucial information.

After submitting the proof, there was radio silence for a month and a half. After that time period expired, American Express sends me a message that merchant has shared the disputed transactions receipt and the dispute is closed in the favor of the merchant. I wondered how it could be since I had clearly split the transaction.

Lo and behold ! the receipt also shows I had split the transaction onto 2 cards and the 2 $100 charges were incorrect. Some brainless idiot who is incompetent to even read receipts decided the dispute in the favor of the merchant at American Express. Here are the details :




PO BOX 981532

EL PASO, TX 79998-1532

Subject: Dispute of transaction at Sam’s club


I had split the total amount of ($100) on 2 of my cards both Amex cards, one card ending in 63006 was supposed to be charged $45 and the other card ending in 21004 was supposed to be charged $55. However for some inexplicable reason both cards are charged $100.

As you can see in the receipt, I had very clearly split the transaction onto 2 cards.




Amex Response :

We would like to advise you of the status of your claim on your account from Sams Club Memberships. We removed the amount under review of $55.00 from your account during our investigation.

During our investigation, we contacted the merchant on your behalf and asked them to either provide an explanation or issue a credit for you.

In response to our inquiry, the merchant has provided us with the copy of signed charge receipt indicating your account has been charged correctly. We have attached the supporting documentation for your reference.

If you still question the charge, we request you to provide us with the documentation showing merchant overcharged. In absence of this documentation, we will not be able to represent your claim and investigate further.

Therefore, the amount under review has been reapplied to your account and will appear on your upcoming statement.

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to serve you.


American Express Customer Care

The receipt is the exact same as above. Some paper pusher at Amex decided he doesn’t have to actually read a dispute or its documentation.

Now I know there is no way I can lose this dispute, but my faith in American Express as a company is shattered. I spent some time talking to an employee, re-filed the dispute and 10 mins later it was closed again in the merchant’s favor. I restarted another chat, this time with a ‘Harris’, some rude idiot who lost his cool after I told him I am not going on a 3 way call for something as crystal clear as this. This ‘Harris’ which I am sure is a fake name and some Indian call center is handling this then started to apologize. I am also Indian, but its so hard to talk to someone in a call center who doesn’t understand customer and company dynamics. Anyway, need to clear the air with his supervisor now. Posting this for posterity about how bad American Express customer care is.

Small Victory Over Gamestop in my giftcard case, GameStop eats crow !

Loyal readers would remember me ranting about the shoddy treatment meted to me by Gamestop and how they arbitrarily disabled a Giftcard I had purchased from cardpool. Guess what ? One letter from my state Attorney General’s office and they quickly backtracked :




So the lesson here is to never take things like these lying down. There are enough agencies here to protect consumer rights, use them !

Gamestop Inc. : Unethically and possibly illegally trying to profit from Giftcards



I am boiling with rage right now, the reason being the scum of the earth company called GameStop. Their dwindling stock price should be a good indicator of the inherent value they provide to customers. However my story is more retail than fundamentals.

Here is the gist of it. I needed to purchase some stuff of GameStop, as I normally do I got a discounted gift card (around $300) for GameStop from Cardpool and went on my merry way to make a purchase at the local store. I have done this many times before however this time it was going to be a bit different. As I went to the checkout counter the young lady there told me she had to ‘call it in’. Wait, was I at a GameStop or at a traffic stop, law enforcement usually uses terms like ‘call it in’. Being Indian, I am used to some level of discrimination, so I pretended to not mind and waited as the agent talked to someone on the line and boy she was in no hurry to resolve the matter. After a few jokes she hung up and looked at me. What she said next totally shocked me, she told me she couldn’t accept the gift card as it had been issued to someone else.

That makes absolutely no sense. Gift cards are by nature transferable and are like cash. The gift card I had also said nothing about any such terms. She told me there is nothing she could do and they have further frozen the gift card (WTF!). She further asked me to contact customer service.

I went home and I contacted customer service, waited a couple of days and got no response. Shitty service indicator number 1. I then filed a BBB complaint against this company and finally got a response, Here are their replies in their full glory :

Gamestop Response 1 :

On behalf of GameStop, we apologize for this poor experience in association with our company. 
After further research into this issue I have verified that the information you have provided does not match the information with the trade transaction.  We will only be able to speak with the owner of the account used on the trade transaction.
If you have additional questions, I am here for you.

Shilo | Guest Care Support Associate | GameStop | Service Matters

Service matters is their slogan, how ironical. How about unethically and illegally making money from unsuspecting customers.

My Response  :


Gift cards are transferable entities, if someone trades with GameStop and gets a gift card it does not mean that he has forever wagered his/her soul to Gamestop and must use it. He/She is able to sell the gift card and I purchased one such gift card. Its not a credit card or a debit card.

Then things got a little too personal, GameStop apparently wanted me to establish a chain of ownership to the person who 1st had the card. A good analogy is every time you use a $20 bill, you must establish a chain of ownership to the 1st person who was issued the bill. That’s obviously ridiculous. Gift cards are like cash, almost every gift card says its like cash. Anyway, this is how they responded :

GameStop Response 2 :


On behalf of GameStop, we apologize for this poor experience in association with our company. 
As you have stated this gift card was not purchased or obtained from GameStop.  You will need to contact Card Pool about this issue.

If card pool can provide proof of them purchasing the card from the previous customer and then sold the item to you we will be able to resolve the issue by providing a new card to you.

If you have additional questions, I am here for you.

Now to those who say this is reasonable, think of it this way, what if the gift card has changed multiple owners. Also, why would card pool ever reveal who they bought the card from, it would be a breach of privacy for the original seller.

Dear Shilo from GameStop ends with : “If you have additional questions, I am here for you. “

I did have a few more questions and points :

My Response  2 :

Do all gift cards sold by GameStop need to have change of ownership reported to GameStop ? Now you are just making up rules. The reality is that your associate who felt she was being super diligent committed an error in judgment possibly due to my race ? Your overzealous associate on the phone went ahead and disabled the card at his/her end just because he didn’t want a large transaction to go through. The store clerk actually said she had to ‘call it in’ a terminology which law enforcement uses kind of getting to my point of overzealous-ness again.

Even though I had possession of the gift card and had purchased it legally, GameStop went ahead and disabled it without having any legal basis to do so. Gift cards are like cash and unless reported lost or stolen this suo-moto action of GameStop is most definitely illegal. Its a legal debt to the person with the possession of the gift card.

Like I said, I am under no compulsion to ask cardpool or to give my information to you, you have the burden of proof to show the gift card was stolen or obtained by illegal means. By not allowing me to use a legal debt like a gift card GameStop is the company which needs to provide clarifications and not me.

I will be sure to report this matter to my state’s AG office as its obviously illegal and also use the social media to spread the message.

And they never replied back.

True to my word I filed complaints with the FTC as they regulate gift cards and also complained to the Washington state attorney general. I would have sued them in small claims but looks like Cardpool will be refunding my money. If someone else had a similar experience, let me know, maybe we can get a class action lawyer to take this up if we have enough victims. Making consumers prove the ownership trail for store Gift cards is moronic to say the least.


I am going to wait for their response to the WA State Attorney General, hopefully their legal department would be smart enough to see their snafu. Imagine how much money Gamestop will start amassing by introducing this arbitrary rule and then just freezing gift cards. I am safe thanks to card pool, but you may purchase a GC from a friend or a colleague and then GameStop will just freeze it and steal the money.

AUSDOM AD260 Dashcam Review – Good camera but no GPS might be a deal breaker for many

I am a dashcam enthusiast, so when I got a chance to review this unit, I jumped on it. I also got this unit for a discount to test out, but as you would see the review is 100% genuine.

I am comparing this to my Roadhawk DC2 dash cam which has been my primary camera for more than a year, that camera was bought for $200 so yes I would expect it to have more features, but when you are going for a dashcam you want something which would be useful incase of a court case or insurance claim. Otherwise whats the point of getting a dashcam.

Sample Videos :

Day :

Indoor Video :

Night Video :


Now that you have had a chance to look at the image quality and the date stamping on the camera, 

Lets move onto the PROS :

  1. Good LCD Screen – Unlike my Roadhawk camera, this one has a screen which is really useful for replaying footage after something interesting has happened. The LCD screen is clear even in bright sunlight.
  2. In-built battery backup – This is a game changer, the internal battery is a godsend as it allows this to be a parking sensor. My roadhawk has an attachment which allows it to connect directly to the battery however I believe that would just drain my car battery. An internal Li-On battery is a nice solution to that problem.
  3. Good image quality – The videos are of good quality, not great, not awesome, not excellent no matter what the other reviewers tell you. They need to get a real dashcam if they think this is the best video quality they have ever seen. Don’t be carried away by those hyperboles.
  4. G-sensor – Any good camera needs to have a G-sensor which would capture collisions and not overwrite on them as you could discover a dent weeks later and then that image might have been overwritten.
  5. Good mounting equipment – The mounting equipment which comes with this camera is great. Never underestimate its importance. My $200 dashcam from Timetec came with a ridiculously badly designed mount which I had to go get replaced.
  6. Image taking – The camera does allow you to take images instead of locking videos, I love that :) , sometimes its nice that instead of taking out my camera phone I can take the image on a click.


Now the CONs :

  1. A little buggy – I have noticed a couple of bugs, the most annoying being when I start my car the camera starts and then immediately shuts down. I have no clue why that would happen. I have to remove power and restart again for the camera to start. I will be emailing the company about this.
  2. File sizes are too huge, for a worse image quality than my Roadhawk, the file sizes seem to be a lot larger.
  3. Funky white balance – The WB on my unit is funky, its washed out (as the video also shows) , it does have an adjustment which I need to play with.
  4. Video stamping is inadequate – The video cannot be stamped with speed unfortunately, that’s a deal breaker for me. As this has no GPS, I don’t think it can measure speed.
  5. Unintuitive buttons – The buttons are a little bit hard to understand if you are just starting out. It took me a while to understand how to lock and erase video segments, unfortunately not before I had erased a clip I wanted to save :(.
  6. Poor Microphone Quality – The bass is just out of whack with the camera, in the sample video you can almost feel the mic vibrating and distorting the sound.

Verdict :

Overall, this is a solid camera for the price, with good video quality and a ton of features more expensive cameras don’t seem to provide. However depending upon your budget you may just decide to go forward with a camera that has GPS. If you are just a hobbyist and don’t really care about insurance aspects or ticket aspects this might just be good enough. Speed is the only thing this cant capture. I would give it 3/5 stars.

Giving Robo-Investing a shot ! Wealthfront $5000 free investment referral code inside !

So I have decided to give Robo-Investing a shot with Wealthfront, the only reason I chose Wealthfront over Betterment for the time being is the promise of free investing irrespective of a time period. I find that more generous than Betterment’s offering of free investing for a few years or so.

So here’s the thing, I don’t expect radically different gains but I am hoping that the tax loss harvesting will save me some $$$ especially since I invest a lot in my ESPP and have capital gains.

Stay tuned here for the full results of my experiment, if you are looking for a referral code to Wealthfront for a free $5000 in investing, sign up using my link :