I’m Important, and I can Prove It! This is that time of year when a lot of things happen, some good, and some not so good. Among the things I feel are not so good, are those endless offers that arrive in the mail from credit card outfits. Surely, as a good American, you have received them as well. They come from big banks, little banks, and credit outfits you have never heard of, many located in other states. It’s strange, but a lot of them seem to be located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I don’t know why, but this is sort of creepy.

The pitch is always the same: “You have been carefully selected to receive our unique credit card, pre-approved!”. Another version is more of a pitch to the ol’ ego, and goes something like this: “Not everyone is going to receive this outstanding opportunity, but you are among an elite few!”. Or this one: “Someone of your outstanding credit history deserves this credit cart, you’ve earned it”. And on and on they go. There are a few others, some even sound as though they are down on their knees, asking me to please, please, please accept our credit card. Well, if they could fix me up with Tyra Banks, maybe, but please spare me the offers of toasters, ballpoint pens, and cheap calculators that frequently wind up as doggie chew toys.

All of these go right into my document shredder. (The best $99.95 I have ever spent and yes, I did use a credit card when I purchased it.) Sorry, credit card people, but I have no remorse whatsoever about taking your carefully worded pitch, and watching it get sucked into the shredder master, and seeing it fly into the basket as confetti. But, I received one this past week, and I saved it, because it was one that was “different”, one that I had never received before. I decided to save it, just so could peruse it carefully, to make sure my myopic eyes were not playing tricks. And what was so darned special about this credit card offer?

It was an offer for an American Express “Platinum” card!

Yes, that’s right! Me, a geek guy who makes his living as a technician, who gets paid by the hour. Me, who buys a new car once every five years, if then. (I held onto my Toyota truck for ten years.) Somehow, the nice people at American Express have found it fit to send me a “pre approved” invitation to carry the same credit card as such luminaries as Donald Trump, and Arab Oil Sheiks. Wow. That’s fine company, don’t you agree? Now, I should mention that I do indeed carry an American Express green card, and I have used it over the years to buy some goodies such as electronic toys, and to charge hotel rooms when I have traveled on behalf of my employer. (Makes the accounting easy.) But, I have never charged anything truly exorbitant with it. So, I must wonder why the folks at AE are targeting me now.

You should see what the letter says, it’s really funny. There’s this: “From the elegant Four Seasons Hotel in Mexico City, to the Splendid Regent Beverly Wiltshire in Beverly Hills,,,” Uh, sorry, but it is highly unlikely I will be staying at either, any time soon. Then there’s this: “When you sail with Cruise Privileges on any of the 10 participating cruise lines, you’ll enjoy a complimentary cabin upgrade or a $300.00 per-cabin shipboard credit (depending on the cruise line). You’ll also enjoy cocktails, dinner or a private tour of the bridge with the ships captain and a welcome gift or special memento of your voyage.” Hmm. This has to be what someone meant, when they said, “the rich get richer”. Wonder if that cocktails and dinner could include a draught Guinness and a pizza from my favorite pizza place? Or perhaps some Memphis style barbequed ribs from a fine, fine rib place I know.

What else? Oh yes, there is something about “a retreat while you wait for your flight”, where I will have access to “select airport clubs” where I am promised a “quiet and comfortable refuge between flights”. This is also good for the things any busy executive might need, such as conference rooms, fax, and photocopy machines. Lord forbid I should have to wait for a plane in the airport’s main concourse, with the unwashed masses. And let’s see, there’s something about a “Concierge” always being at my service, for when I need a conference room reserved in Boston, or a gift delivered in Paris. Yeah, right. There are a few more things, but you get the idea.

Now, what does this cost? It’s all mine, for the price of a $300.00 annual fee. Yep, I can join the ranks of Donald Trump and Arab oil tycoons by yakking up three hundred bucks every year. Eh, I don’t think so. The letter is machine-signed by one Alfred F. Kelly Jr., General Manager, Consumer Cards.

Well Mr. Kelly, I understand that you have a job to do, and you surely do it well. American Express has a fine reputation for being a well-managed company, and my experience in using my own green AE card has been pretty good. But I think that this time, someone may have goofed in mailing this to me. I’m not in the world of oil sheiks and real estate tycoons, nor am I likely to be. Hate to break it to you like that, but I’m a guy who has dust bunnies under the bed. (Although I do keep my Macs and my bicycles spotless. Funny how that works, isn’t it?)

So, I’m afraid this one will wind up as shredder food, along with all the others. Although my proposal regarding being fixed up with Tyra Banks still stands, Mr. Kelly. You may call me directly, if that can be arranged.

Bruce Black

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