Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cash Back Program Didn't Include Food as Groceries

From ABC News. Apparently AMEX's cash-back program only pays out in certain stores--if you are a member of this club, watch out! ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT BEFORE CHARGING.

"There are credit cards that give you cash-back rewards for certain purchases, but some customers in the North Bay found out their favorite grocery store didn't qualify. It made no sense to them so they called 7 On Your Side.

There is an American Express card that gives cash-back rewards for gas, medicine, and grocery purchases. However, 7 On Your Side was called when the groceries at a popular local market didn't qualify as "real" groceries."


"Vela finds everything at the store: fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish, milk and eggs. So she was really surprised when her credit card company said these were not groceries.

"I don't think it's fair to be discriminating against one type of food," says Vela."


"A blue card statement designates Safeway and IGA super market chains are indeed grocery stores, but not Good Earth. This led co-owner Al Baylacq called American Express to find out if organic, local products food didn't qualify as groceries.

"We're a grocery store. Why can't our AmEx customer appreciate the same rewards as if she went to Safeway down the street? I got a very respectful phone call in the following weeks saying that we were simply not eligible, that the program is set up for bigger retailers than us," says Baylacq.

American Express told him Good Earth is not a grocery store, but that it is a specialty store. Good Earth shoppers were certainly surprised to hear that they weren't really buying groceries.

"I don't think eggs are specialty food, I don't think milk is specialty food, I don't think chicken. Maybe they're driving you to go to places like Albertson's or Safeway," says Vela."


"7 On Your Side got involved and things changed rapidly after that. We questioned American Express about the grocery policy and the company did a complete about face.

American Express said, "We updated our records so that ... our Blue Cash Card members will now be bonused for everyday purchases at Good Earth.''

Customers will now get cash back for shopping at Good Earth. American Express did not explain why the rewards were previously denied, but said any grocery store qualifies, not just national chains."

The truth is that they WERE trying to drive you to certain stores--that's why Albertson's and other large-chain stores made the deal with AMEX to begin with. This is about as trap-laden as rebates and gift cards!

But, in the end, it paid to complain and get the media involved--if this woman hadn't done it, AMEX wouldn't have honored her purchase for the cash-back program.


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