Hub slipped the snazzy black folder under my side plate at lunch the other day. As usual, he didn’t comment. On the back were the words: “Exceptional relationships deserve to be recognized”. Of course my heart beat faster. I mean, it was from Amex Bank of Canada. Over the years, I’ve worn the black coating off the numbers on numerous gold cards, spending tens of thousands of dollars on travel, food, clothing, shoes, art, books, auto repairs, fuel, gifts, electronic equipment, office supplies and what have you. Finally, finally….I was going to get some recognition for my fidelity to Amex. A reward.

I carefully detached the clear adhesive glue-glob from the flap and slowly slid out a bright orange-caramel coloured missive, not wanting to do a rapid reveal and spoil the surprise. The come-on on the front read: “we look forward to continuing our relationship.” Whew. This was heady stuff. Yup, we’ve been together longer than many a marriage, I dare say.

On the back was a jaunty topper over the words: so hats off to you! Then came the clincher…

“Enduring relationships are rare and deserve to be recognized. Since 1981, you’ve shown confidence in the American Express brand, and I would like to take a moment to extend a heart-felt ‘thank-you’ for 30 years of support and loyalty. I hope that you’re enjoying everything your American Express Card has to offer, as I have enjoyed my own Cardmembership. I look forward to many more years together.” It was auto-signed by Howard Grosfield, President & Ceo.

Where’s my recognition? I squeezed the sides of the envelope like a tube of toothpaste, peering inside to see if I’d missed the gift card or celebratory note awarding me 100 points for every year of faithful membership and enriching their coffers with the $100 plus annual fee. But as John Belushi said, “But nooooooo.” 

Nada. Zilch. Nothing. A thirty-year anniversary is supposed to be marked by a gift of pearls, HowardYou messed up. Plus I’m sure you’ve enjoyed a lot more perquisites from your card than I have with mine!  Membership is supposed to have its privileges, I’ve been told how many times in bill inserts? What a joke. Did I bail when you cut my points earning program from 1.5 to 1? Uh-uh. When the value of points required for travel went up and the number of travel agencies dealing with Amex plummeted? Nope. When the card no longer got me into airport lounges for free? Nyet.

In the end, the cheap note has annoyed me more than anything. Bad idea to tell me how valued I am when you couldn’t even slip in a $25 thank you gift card. Something from iTunes or Chapters would have been thoughtful. So Howard, I’m re-thinking our relationship. Faithfulness is starting to seem less attractive, since there’s no tangible reward. We’ve grown apart. Our interests are no longer in synch. I’m fed up getting less instead of more. I have choices. Once I’ve shredded your message to confetti, I’ll be doing a recalculation of the value-for-money paradigm. Thanks for nothing, Howard.