John Dirk

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In my personal experience, American Express has bent over backwards to make me happy. They are, by far, the best credit card company to deal with (from this consumer's point of view).

I don't know if it matters how much the customer spends on AmEx, maybe we get exceptional service because we are very good customers?

I suspect not, I think AMEX just values its customers more than the others.

Mark
I agree which is why I was so upset when Costco switched from AMEX to Visa. AMEX takes customer satisfaction VERY seriously and does everything they can to protect their customers.
 

John Dirk

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I think part of the reason credit card companies are taking a hard line stance about adhering to the fine print of their terms of service right now is because they anticipate a tsunami of merchants going bankrupt before this whole thing is over.
That actually brings up a good point. What do their terms of Service state for cases such as this? I doubt they have the legal right to arbitrarily assign a debt such as this to the customer, especially in @DaveF 's area. I would suspect the remedy to be arbitration, which is still better than no remedy at all. Worth checking IMO.
 

Johnny Angell

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Our government requested we download the following app, which I did:

View attachment 76342
It is used for contact tracing.
A couple (or maybe more) months ago there was an NPR article about an app like this. It was totally voluntary. The app records when your close to another app user. If either user is diagnosed with COVID-19 everyone can be notified. It’s a great idea. Unfortunately I’ve heard nothing further about it.

Even if the app was available here, it would be too “big brother” for many Americans. After all, we are a nation of assholes. Canada showed good judgement when it closed the border to Americans.
 

Mike2001

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After several family discussions, both kids are signed up for distance learning this year.

Their school offered a choice between a hybrid, on campus model and a distance learning model. The hybrid model split the in-person students up into a morning and an afternoon cohort. Both models have equivalent synchronous time with teachers and equivalent curricula. For distance learning, their classes will be made up of kids from across the district, rather than just those from the local neighborhood. If we are fortunate to still have an in-person promotion ceremony in the spring, my daughter (5th grade) would still do that at the local school, along with any other in-person extra-curricular activities they are able to offer.

In our risk analysis of probability vs consequence, the consequence is obviously pretty high. The kids could get infected at school and pass it on to other family members. And who knows what the long term consequences of the infection in kids could be. For the probability, I recall watching a family across the canyon from us host a large 4th of July party with dozens of people over many hours. The thought that there are some in the community that are not taking the guidelines seriously and that their kids would be attending the same school as ours makes the probability higher than I am comfortable with tackling.

Plus both models will be opening the year with remote learning. Our county does not meet the state guidelines for re-opening, which include being off the county watch list for 14 straight days. The watch list has 6 criteria, including the 14 day sliding average of new cases being below 100 per 100,000 and test positivity rate being below 8%. LA County fails both of those metrics (while meeting all of the others). In fact, it is failing the new cases metric by a mile (although at just an 8.1% test positivity rate). The official site has a 7 day lag to make up for lags in reporting and currently sits at 311 cases per 100,000. The LA Times, without the lag, sits at 380 cases per 100,000. With numbers and trends like that, who knows if the county will even get off the watch list for the whole school year.

Last year's remote learning experience was a bit of a disaster, with the teachers and schools thrust into it with little up-front planning. This year they seem to be much better organized for remote learning, with common methods for everybody. But I have to feel that the distance learning model will be better in this regard, since they are planning out the whole year up front while the hybrid model also has to plan for in-person, even if they never get there.

Putting it all together, distance learning for us.
 
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DaveF

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Our government requested we download the following app, which I did:

View attachment 76342
It is used for contact tracing.
Googling for "apple google exposure notification" should find solid info on this system. The underlying system is design for personal privacy as a fundamental goal. It's "exposure notification", not contact tracing, so if it works, it will tell you that you were near someone who has COVID-19, confirmed by a medical professional. It won't say who and maybe not even where. Similarly, if you get sick, the system can propagate that the possible exposure to others without identifying information. It's all anonymous data, and is not reported or stored on government systems.

The downside is that, so far, adoption of these apps in countries like Germany that have rolled them out nationally, has been like 20% or less. Too low to be useful, unfortunately.

I'm not expert enough to say these are absolutely private and absolutely safe. I can safe that I care about personal, digital privacy, and would use this app if it were available to me.
 
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DaveF

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I agree which is why I was so upset when Costco switched from AMEX to Visa. AMEX takes customer satisfaction VERY seriously and does everything they can to protect their customers.
I've never had a problem with any credit card before. But I've also not had this bankrupt retailer / unfufilled purchase situation before. So my priorities have been cash back and no annual fees. Previously, I've never understood AmEx: they were the mandatory corporate credit card with severe terms and no benefits I had to endure for work.

So, here I am. I may be learning new things and changing my credit card behaviors from this.
 

TravisR

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A couple (or maybe more) months ago there was an NPR article about an app like this. It was totally voluntary. The app records when your close to another app user. If either user is diagnosed with COVID-19 everyone can be notified. It’s a great idea. Unfortunately I’ve heard nothing further about it.

Even if the app was available here, it would be too “big brother” for many Americans. After all, we are a nation of assholes. Canada showed good judgement when it closed the border to Americans.
While I certainly see the positives, I also easily see it being used by an insurance company to increase people's rates ("Oops, you went near too many people with COVID and now you're high risk so we 'have' to charge you more.") or a company to put ads in front of me to sell something else or any other way someone can think of to make money from that data.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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I agree which is why I was so upset when Costco switched from AMEX to Visa. AMEX takes customer satisfaction VERY seriously and does everything they can to protect their customers.
Basically, tradeoffs. We (roughly) get what we pay for.

Amex does cost somewhat more... even for its "free" credit cards.

They've always charged higher svc fees to merchants, offered somewhat lower rewards, etc... but generally provided better customer svc (and peace of mind), so I've always had one of their Optima CCs (actually since my college days when that was still a pretty new Amex offering) and used it accordingly.

More recently, my wife actually even acquired and regularly uses a very high fee, travel-oriented Visa because we do see the value of it for her/us -- I don't have it myself as I don't see the need... and we just use hers to book travel (as we mostly travel together anyway), do frequent takeouts (and eat out), etc. But one has to travel quite a bit and/or eat out quite often to justify the very high fee -- we probably do somewhat more than enough of those (probably even during this pandemic) to justify the fee...

It all depends...

_Man_
 
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Clinton McClure

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From an article on MacRumors.

How Exposure Notifications Work
As explained above, with a health app that uses the exposure notification API installed, your smartphone exchanges anonymous identifiers with each person you come in contact with that also has an app that uses the API.

Your phone keeps a list of these identifiers on it, and this list remains on your device -- it is not uploaded anywhere. The exception is if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 and then follow the steps to send out notifications to the smartphones that have been in contact with yours.

In this situation, the list of random identifiers that your ‌iPhone‌ has been assigned over the course of the previous 14 days is sent to a centralized server. Other people's iPhones check this server and download that list, checking it against the identifiers stored on their own iPhones. If there's a match, they receive a notification about exposure with more information about the steps to take next.

Matches are made on device rather than on a server in a central location, which preserves privacy while also making sure people know about possible exposure.
 

Johnny Angell

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I've never had a problem with any credit card before. But I've also not had this bankrupt retailer / unfufilled purchase situation before. So my priorities have been cash back and no annual fees. Previously, I've never understood AmEx: they were the mandatory corporate credit card with severe terms and no benefits I had to endure for work.

So, here I am. I may be learning new things and changing my credit card behaviors from this.
I found out that apps are coming out in the coming weeks. Also a statement saying 20 states are looking at it. Does this thing require state government to participate?
 

John Dirk

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Previously, I've never understood AmEx: they were the mandatory corporate credit card with severe terms and no benefits I had to endure for work.
LOL - That was my introduction to AMEX as well. I was required to carry one by a previous employer but I never saw or cared about the bill. My first personal AMEX came through my longtime affiliation with Costco's Executive membership program and that's when I started to learn how they differed from the others. AMEX has historically catered to business customers whose service expectations usually exceed what a typical consumer might accept. They didn't even offer a consumer CC equivalent to a Visa or Mastercard until 1987 when they introduced their Optima card. Prior to that an AMEX was understood to be a "charge" card and required to be paid in full each month. It was simply intended to allow business people to have easy access to cash and services while travelling.

I've never had a problem on the level of what you are dealing with but I did have some minor disputes over rewards, accrued interest etc with AMEX over the years. Without fail each incident was resolved to my satisfaction, even when the initial problem was caused by me not correctly interpreting the terms of service. By contrast, Citibank Visa has been a bit of a different animal. I ended up setting up an automatic monthly payment for the total amount owed to insure they didn't hit me with some sneaky interest charge after they did this a couple of times and refused to reverse the charges. If I have to watch a service provider then they are not really the provider I want. I'd go back to AMEX in a heartbeat if I could. I even considered cancelling my Costco Executive membership when they announced they would be switching.

As @ManW_TheUncool said, "you get what you pay for" although your situation is clearly unique.
 
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TJPC

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We only have a Cosco membership because they stopped using American Express which had a hefty membership fee, and switched to MasterCard which is free and allows my wife to collect mega air miles.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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We only have a Cosco membership because they stopped using American Express which had a hefty membership fee, and switched to MasterCard which is free and allows my wife to collect mega air miles.
At least here in the USA, one could definitely get an Amex credit card for "free". In fact, there are even 2 lines/brands of "free" Amex CCs -- the older Optima card that John Dirk mentioned dated back to the late-80's while the more recently advertised Blue card came later.

Generally, it's their best known (so called) "charge cards" that definitely require significant fees -- as John Dirk mentioned, those aren't credit cards and do not allow balances to be carried.

Anyway, in the past, Costco accepted both kinds of Amex cards AFAIK.

One additional nice thing I like about Amex is they actually give separate account numbers for additional cards linked to the primary account (unlike all other credit card issuers)... and each of them can have its own online access w/ info specific to each. I like that (on top of the better customer svc and protection) for adding my college aged kids to my Amex account. For instance, if one card holder loses his/her card, only that card needs to be reissued w/ new number, etc.

_Man_
 
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