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No. of Recommendations: 19
I'll be closing my account and moving the money elsewhere.

Not that it matters much, but this is my choice, with two caveats. First, I also think that option #4 is an accurate description - in fact, the primary reason behind my decision to move my account:

These changes make me distrust management.

Second, I not only plan to move my brokerage account, but I have cancelled my Blue card, and I intend to sell my shares in AXP in the very near future. In case you're wondering, all this has been expressed to the company. As many others probably have done, I have written to Mr. Hallin to complain. As many others likely have, I received a request via email to discuss the option by phone. As I waited a few days to complain, I responded to this request somewhat differently than you may have:

Mr. Pope, thank you very much for your quick reply on this matter. However, I have already heard of several others who have received such calls from your organization. As I understand it, these callers are authorized to offer up to 20 free stock trades per month, though those trades are still not inclusive of limit orders. As that is the primary cause behind my complaint, unless said caller is able and willing to offer anything more, and more importantly, to put it in writing, I am not interested in receiving a call. I have already spent nearly a year with American Express brokerage, and frankly I don't have any desire to spend any more time unless this ridiculous policy is removed at once. At the very least, a grandfathering of the existing accounts as they were originally announced would satisfy my request.

If there is nothing new to offer, I see absolutely zero reason to speak with Mr. Hallin, you or anyone else about my dissatisfaction.

The only way that you will regain my trust and retain my business is to immediately repeal the insane decision to charge $19.95 for all limit orders placed on my account after 10/30/2000. If your company feels the need to increase the price of transactions, that is fine, as I understand that - but the reason I moved my account in the first place was to benefit from free trades - at the moment, free buys and in the very near future (hopefully), free sells as well. Naturally so long as I fall short of the $100K goal, I would expect to pay for my transactions - and paying the higher price for those transactions is acceptable. In fact, I can even understand limits on the accounts to prevent professional traders from taking advantage of your generosity. But once I make it to that $100K level, I would absolutely expect to receive both free buys and free sells as I was promised in the many advertisements asking for my business, subject to those monthly limits. As an individual investor, I can understand some of the thinking behind this move, to limit exposure to day traders, and to not bleed money continuously. At the same time, I would have expected American Express to act in a manner which is consistent with their generally highly-regarded customer service.

I am not so naive as to expect this to continue in perpetuity - but to suddenly be lambasted with the information that not only are my trades being restricted to a certain number, they are removing the ability to make limit orders - and at the same time, increasing the rate at which those orders are executed! From an organization that, until recently, was as widely known and respected as American Express, this is unthinkable. As an organization you just slit your own throat. Without consumer confidence, you are nothing.

As I have already sent word to Mr. Hallin, the overwhelming majority of my trades are limit orders. Offering me 20 free trades a month, or 50 free trades a month, or 100 free trades a month, means absolutely nothing to me as they would not include limit orders, which I am placing - you might as well continue to offer me unlimited free trades, as none of them will be used. Anything less than restoring limit orders to my free trade allocation will indicate to me that American Express is completely unworthy of my business as a consumer and also my interest as an investor. For pulling such an obvious bait and switch, American Express should be decimated. If I can do anything to speed that process, I will. For now, removing my business and selling my stock is all I can do. In the future, I will be sure to tell all my friends, family and business associates how they should never deal with American Express because you obviously cannot be trusted.

Needless to say, I've yet to be contacted again. In any case, I consider this saga over. The bad taste in my mouth will fade. But I will not do business with American Express again. By the end of the year I will have washed my hands clean by removing any traces of contact with the company - the brokerage transfer is already in progress, the Blue card is cancelled. I haven't sold the stock simply because I haven't gotten around to it (though that will definitely happen before 10/30!).

Thanks for listening. :)

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