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Not dramatized. I lived this. I was in conference calls where the #2 beneath Ken Chenault braced us for what occurred and what was about to follow. We were braced on how to communicate this to the public etc. About 10% of Amex's total U.S. card segment is tied directly to this co-branded relationship.
As you may have already guessed, I used to work there. My job was to get very large organizations to accept American Express as a form of payment. However, after losing this cobranded relationship, my job started to transition to be one where I called actively on businesses that had a Cosco card and got them to switch to an Amex Open card. This meant I went from calling on large corporations to selling to mom and pop businesses.
We were all over the board. Our core function was no longer clear. They layed off a number of reps, tightening their belt and promised the sales force that they wouldn't lay off any more people.
Then, instead of laying people off, they began to give people huge quota increases and put people on "sales plans," half way through the year if they weren't on pace.
We had a team of six in my district and I was the first to quit. The next day, one of my counterparts on my team quit and two weeks later another. In three weeks, Amex lost three top performers on the team I was on. -big time brain drain occurring there right now.
The leadership is awful. The well respected leaders have either been displaced or have voluntarily left the organization. It's in an identity crisis too.
Costco really was an unlikely bedfellow given the two very different brands. Costco is all about affordable, inexpensive accessible products. American Express, traditionally was all about luxury. In just the last two years American Express has forged a partnership with Walmart, offering a card called "Bluebird," for the "unbanked." -this is a big time departure, brand wise.
The core American Express consumer has for years been the affluent, and this is the bulk of the value Am Ex delivers. The reason American Express could justify charging a merchant more money is because they brought a specific demographic to their retail location. This is no longer the case and therefore the future of the brand and their ability to justify a premium is compromised.
Amex is screwed.
Their business plan moving forward is to go after more of the B to B transactions between large corporations. Helping to facilitate $100,000+ transactions between a buyer and supplier. However, I see the future of this space being dominated largely by crypto currency and not banks or credit cards.
Amex is screwed. They're shedding talent and have not been very forward thinking. Add to this the fact that they've compromised what was a luxury brand and you'll see, the guild is off the rose.