Friday, September 4, 2015

"Grumblings"

                                                                   

Like many of you, I've got one of those Costco Affiliated American Express Cards. If you do have an Amex card you have already been notified that Amex and Costco are getting a divorce. Costco apparently figured they weren't getting enough cut from Amex and has decided leave and marry up with Citibank. Of course when Costco and whatever credit card company they partner with split up, it's us Costco "children" that are left in the lurch. 
Well I'm a bit tired of Costco and American Express. Here's why. American Express has been courting me for the last three months. They've done everything but send me flowers and an edible fruit bouquet to get me to stay with them. Alas, American Express has always been my nemesis throughout my credit life. I can remember lusting after an American Express card back in the old days when a credit card held some elevated social status for one who had one. Now Amex is just your run of the mill credit card; perhaps worse than the others because it is not nearly as widely accepted with merchants because Amex takes an "arm and a leg" cut from any business that accepts them. 
As I grew older, and a bit more prosperous, I finally did get an Amex card, and found out it was kind of like lusting after Jennifer Aniston for years, then when you finally score a date, you find out she's got a terrible case of halitosis. 
So, I gave up my Amex card about twenty years ago. Cut it up in little pieces and sent it back to them and said "thanks but no thanks."
The reason Amex is courting me is that I've got a FICO score that would make Donald Trump envious. But my sterling credit score was not always so. I remember our first credit card, of sorts. It was with Sears Roebuck. My wife and I had just returned from Vietnam and we had no credit record at all. Well, while shopping at a Sears in Merced, California we saw all these alluring signs inviting us to sign up for credit. Since it was school clothes season we sat down with a Sears Credit Clerk to apply for a Sears Charge Card. That poor fellow must have run our credit history and gasped...having lived overseas we didn't even have a gas card. Well, being the simpatico guy he was, that credit clerk took one look at my wife and I, and our three little urchins, and gave us a little paper card, good for charging up to $200 dollars within a six month period....and if we were really good at paying our bills, we might somehow earn "plastic status". That was my our first foray into the world of credit.
Some forty years later my wife and I are "credit snobs". We turn down potential suiters as often as Kate Upton turns down dates. The problem I have with credit cards is that the offering banks are getting a zero interest loan at the Federal Reserve Window each and every morning, yet they want to charge me 12.99 percent to carry a balance on their card...that's on top of the two or three percent they squeeze out of the businesses one frequents! 
So, I only carry three credit cards; my USAA Mastercard (7.99 percent), this Costco Amex card (which I will be surrendering soon) and a Wells Fargo Visa (only because the financial experts say you should own at least two credit cards). 
Back to Costco if I might....I have a few pet peeves about Costco too. I wonder how many of you know that, if you read a Costco shareholders report, you'll find that Costco's entire profit comes from their membership fees, minus their negotiated meager fee from their affiliated credit card company. Were it not for the membership fees Costco would not make a dime of profit. Pretty weird business model, huh?
Well, I've been a member of Costco for thirty years; starting back in San Diego when it was still "The Price Club". What I've found over the years is that I don't really need Costco! With just my wife and I we just can't use those 5 pound cans of jalapeño peppers, or hundred pound bags of pinto beans! I use to curse the fates as I walked up the aisles and ponder "Costco, where the hell were you when I had four kids at home?" Used to stand over a five gallon can of chili and wonder how long would it take my kids to plow through that monster. And where was Costco and those monstrous buckets of ice cream when my ice cream urchins were at home?
After all the children left home I kind of stayed with Costco for two things; their coffee and their Michelin tires. Alas, I always had bad luck with their Michelins....mine seem to give out after a year (usually on a Los Angeles freeway while driving my wife to L.A. airport for an international flight, or to drive my daughter up to Hollywood to take her cosmetology license! Never had a problem with Michelins bought anywhere else....just at Costco so I figured Michelin was stiffing Costco by sending them their "seconds!"
So I really don't know why I'm still a Costco member. Maybe I just like lunching on food samples heated in microwaves by 70 year old "cougars". And I still love their Kirkland Decaf Coffee and their albacore tuna. Other than that I kind of have to hunt pretty hard to find anything that wouldn't take us two years to consume!
So, in a few months I'm going to write Amex and send them a dear john letter. I may send one to Costco too...haven't firmly decided that yet.
Right now I'm playing hard to get with American Express....I'm hoping they'll send me a box of Godiva chocolates and a box of Omaha steaks. Jennifer Anniston; eat your heart out!

4 comments:

Brian Clancy said...

If you slander Jennifer again I will stop following your blog. :)

Aside from that great essay.

A Modest Scribler said...

Oh no, Brian! If I lose you I'll quit writing this blog.....it would be a clear sign that I'm no longer relevant! :)

Brian Clancy said...

If I'm the bar to which your relevance is measured by you're already in trouble.

A Modest Scribler said...

:)