Give “Credit” Where Credit is Due

American Express in the past was known to be the charge card for the exclusive upper class. Amex is now globally recognized as a company that works to help small and medium size businesses and is socially conscience.  American Express has been awarded for six years straight as one of Ethisphere Institute’s Most Ethical Companies in the world. However, one of their recent campaigns was “Charge Against Hunger” which has been heavily criticized for spending more money on advertising the initiative than was given to the causes. Another reason that the campaign was criticized was their ad choice of using John Lennon’s “Imagine” song. The Imagine song caused the media to accuse Amex for their shameless advertisement  I mean really, “imagine no possessions” in an advertisement installed by a credit card company?! Makes no sense.

Another recent venture is their collaboration with Walmart in creating the Bluebird, a prepaid credit card. After reading multiple cases about Walmart, why would a company who prides themselves as ethical create a new product with Walmart?

And the last topic is the most recent accusation to American Express. In early October, American Express reimbursed $85 million to about 250,000 customers to resolve there recent federal violations. The company duped consumers into paying off stale credit card debt with the promise of improving their credit score. They also discriminated against customers based on age. The federal regulators said that “all violations” aside from the credit discrimination are attributed to deficient management oversight of the bank’s service providers.

Should Amex really deserve the recognition of being an ethical company even though they associate with “unethical” companies and that recently had to dig themselves out of a ditch for their federal violations? Would Amex have reimbursed it’s customers if they weren’t trying to sell their new Bluebird product?


4 thoughts on “Give “Credit” Where Credit is Due

  1. I have to disagree with one of your points, specifically the one with not working with unethical companies. In today’s society it is almost impossible to not do business with an unethical society, making it almost impossible for a company to be successful while following these strict guidelines. On the other hand it is interesting that Amex gets all this positive recognition for being ethical when it has all of the issues you have described. This might just be an example of there just not being that many ethical companies in the world so this is the best of what there is.

  2. I agree with Foster’s point in that there may simply be a lack in “ethical” companies. At the same time, though, I think their business connections with unethical companies should have an effect on their status as a recognized company for social responsibility. They definitely seem to make some questionable decisions, like the advertising costs for “Charge Against Hunger,” so is it really fair for them to win the award of being one of the most ethical companies in the world?

  3. So, how did this Ethisphere group come to its conclusions?

    I do think the prepaid card can be useful as it enables consumers who might be vulnerable to exorbitant interest on consumer debt to NOT fall into that trap. I know it sounds paternalistic, but it is better for people to use pre-pays to plan consumption that debt to finance impulses.

  4. May be there is no way to run a company 100% ethical. Every company is bound to make some mistakes at one point or another. So, may be you also should focus on things that American Express get it right as well so that the readers can access overall ethical element of the corporation.

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