Peppercom has always used American Express for our small business needs. The company has always given us the benefit we need. That's why it's sad that we were forced to TRY and change credit card companies recently.
You see, my business partner and I (and a lot of our other senior executives) fly a lot on Continental Airlines. AMEX had a great points partnership with Continental and we used those points to purchase free tickets or upgrade. But, to our dismay, that relationship is ending in September.
We recently switched over to a Chase Small Business Card because that's Continental's big partner now. What's sadder, and equally as frustrating, is that Chase has no idea how to service the small business market and doesn't know very much about its target customer either. That became apparent yesterday in an appalling call I had with a Chase Small Business representative.
The call only happened because Chase gave us a paltry $17 thousand limit on our cards. With upwards of 15 executives using these cards to travel for clients, we knew that at a minimum, we needed a limit of 250k. That's what we have with AMEX. The credit professionals there understand our needs, how we use it and they see how we easily pay the balance each month.
Chase told us they needed two years of our audited Peppercom financials to approve this level of credit. We told them no problem. We're profitable, pay our credit debt on time and have plenty of revenue to qualify for this amount.
Yesterday, a Chase Small Business analyst left me a voice mail telling me that our credit request was declined and we are stuck with the original $17 thousand limit. That made no sense at all. So, I called him to discuss the matter. Here was our basic conversation (paraphrased):
Ed: "Hi, you denied us the amount we are asking for. Can I ask why? AMEX has no problem approving this amount or even more."
Chase Rep: "This card is really only meant for one person. While we appreciate your business, we're not sure how you could need that much credit."
Ed: "This is a small business corporate card, right?"
Chase Rep: "Yes."
Ed: "Well then if it is, you'd understand that it isn't for one person's personal use, but instead will be used for travel, hotels, client campaign purchases, office needs, etc., by many senior Peppercom employees. Thus, we could be spending 100 or 200 thousand per month and just want to have a safe limit in case. Again, we've had a 16 year relationship with AMEX that we are now looking to transfer to you. But, you need to understand our needs."
Chase Rep: "Thank you. We do understand your needs. But, that limit is just much too high for one person doing business, sir."
Ed: "Do you understand that this is for my company’s business, not one person? Why did you ask for two years of financial records from Peppercom if you only care about my card? I am not asking for a personal credit card. This is for all Peppercom's needs."
Chase Rep: "I understand and appreciate that. It just seems that our credit analysts feel that 17 thousand, your current limit, should suffice to fill those needs."
Ed: "That's ludicrous. Do your credit people see any issues with our financials? Ok, what about if I lower the limit to maybe... 200 thousand?"
Chase rep: "Nothing on my documents shows any issues with your financial statements, Mr. Moed. That's not a problem. But, 17 thousand is all that we can approve."
Ed: "Ok. I'm getting nowhere. How long have you worked in the small business area for...because you clearly don't comprehend the difference between consumer and business needs."
Chase Rep: "This is my third week, Mr. Moed,"
Based on my experience, Chase should not be in the small business credit card market business. The company wasted my time and that of Peppercom's financial managers as well. Any bank or credit vehicle that understands small business credit would enthusiastically want Peppercom as a customer for that amount of credit.
The moral of this post is for companies to stick to the knitting they know versus trying to expand into areas where a lack of experience will only damage their reputation. I'm done with Chase and every time I see one of its ridiculous small business commercials it will remind me to tell this story again and again and again...