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Random Thoughts (Blog)

I'll take it Blackened

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 3:30 PM

This couple just walked into our store. A woman who at first I thought she was attractive. Then I saw her again and she wasn’t. Then again later and she kinda was. It was like I was looking at her through a heat-haze of beauty or like one of those weird, texturey 3D pictures where it changes when you move your head from left to right (and if you scratch your fingernail over it it’s all wicka-wicka).

 

Anyhow, our salesman, Andy, is helping them and I notice that they are spending a long time in our high-end theater. I hear booms and rumbles coming from some over-the-top demo (thank you, Trinity Reference subwoofer!) and don’t really think anything of it.

 

Then Andy walks back and asks me if we’ll consider taking American Express. Now, he knows that we don’t, due to the fact that A) Every AmEx owner carries a back-up Visa or MasterCard so there is really no point to and B) AmEx charges us a transaction fee that would likely be considered usurious in any other civilized land.  So I ask him rather snidely, “Why? Do they have a Black Card?”

 

To which he answers, “Yes.”

 

To which I shut the hell up.

 

A Blackity-Black. In the wild. In my store. I’m giddy!



 

For those of you who don’t know, the Black (or more accurately named “Centurion”) Card is the mightiest of credit cards. So mighty, in fact, that AmEx decided that plastic was far too pedestrian a material and opted to instead make the Black Card out of titanium. And nothing impresses a low-paid sales clerk like your credit card being so heavy it audibly clangs and chips their counter when you nonchalantly toss it towards them. And the next time you find yourself in a credit card street fight or if you’re out MacGrubering and have just seconds to stop a nuclear reactor from going hypercritical, you gonna pull out plastic or a super-alloy? Or the next time you’re lying in bed and want to know if you can have some water from the Dead Sea over-nighted to you or if you’re in the Lamborghini dealership and gosh-darn, you left your checkbook at home, or if you decide that you actually DO want to buy and sell someone…all of these are times to reach in and pull Black.

 

But spotting Black in the wild is rarer than seeing a Bugatti Veyron accidentally driving off the road into a marsh. To date I have seen...NONE.

 

Why so rare? Because you used to have to wait for AmEx to personally invite you to apply. And they didn’t hand these invites out all willy-nilly. You had to be a year’s long Platinum Card holder plus have a credit rating that basically said, “I don’t really even *need* a card, but if the right one came along, I’d consider it.” But if you’ve been waiting by your mailbox for that Black Envelope to arrive, you can go back in your house and just pick up the phone and call. But before you start dialing, you DO spend $250,000 or more a year on your credit card, right? You also won’t flinch at the $5,000 initiation fee will you? Because AmEx will DEFINITELY give you two for flinching. And then deny you. And shame you by sending you a Green Card. Then after the initial $5,000 “welcome to the Club” fee, there is a yearly $2,500 fee to prove how much you enjoy belonging to the Club.

 

They didn’t buy anything on this go-round, but have an appointment on Saturday. And they didn’t flinch when Andy told them our high-end room cost $100,000. That’s when she asked, “Do you take American Express? Because I earn points on my Black Card.”

 

Then, suddenly she was beautiful again!

Categories: August 2010, CTA

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5 Comments

Reply Gary Mardell
4:50 PM on August 17, 2010 
And now to my very own Amex Black tale?

Last night, I stopped off for a beer, or two, at my favourite pub ? O?Brien?s on rue St Dominique in the 7th, seeing as you aksed. As is befitting of a Monday at around 10pm, there were only a few people in, most of them Brits watching the football on the TV. Anyway, I get talking to a couple. We?ll call them Leanne and Barry, for these are their names.

As these conversations usually go, we get to the ?How long have you been here?? and ?Why are you here?? issues. Turns out that they are in Paris nursing an elderly gentleman and were due to go back home in the next few days. They originally came out for a month but ended up staying for three.

The gentleman in question is Colombian, with a French wife. She?s 86, deaf as a post, the whole nine yards, and she?s the healthy one, so you can imagine that he needs a bit of attention (24/7 care actually).

Apparently, the guy is loaded, with a capital LOADED !!!! Now, I know exactly what you?re thinking because the same thoughts occurred to me: Colombian, loaded, businessman, empire? anyway, I digress.

The nurses accompany the wife on her shopping trips and the like. These are trips where the shop staff bring clothes out of the shop to the car as it?s parked in the street. When was the last time you got that service from Hermes? Thought not. She has arthritis in her hands so has difficulty punching in numbers on things like, ummm, credit card machines and at this point, the story takes an interesting turn.

Leanne: ?Oh yeah, she just gives me her credit card and asks me to put in the PIN?

Me: ?Really??

Leanne: ? yeah, it?s a black American Express card?

At this point I almost drop my Guinness?

Me:? A black Amex? You know what that is don?t you??

Leanne:? No?

So I explain. The Centurion, the invitation, the joining fee, the annual fee, the required annual spend (of course I am only an expert thanks to your blog John, and I am milking it at this point for all it?s worth!).

Me:? It doesn?t feel like a normal credit card does it?

Leanne: ?No?

Me:?That?s because it?s not made of plastic, it?s made of Titanium.?

Unfortunately she didn?t actually have it with her, I asked.

If I?d managed a photo of The Black I the wild, it would have hit Facebook before the next pint.

So, not only did I meet someone who had held an Amex Centurion, this person had been given the PIN to it by the owner. And she had no idea what she was holding in her hand?
Reply AJ
6:09 PM on April 5, 2011 
Hi John,

I found your website and this post to be great! I really enjoyed reading it. I think you may like my website since it is dedicated to the American Express Black Card! Its www.TheCenturionCard.com.

It is about my quest as a 24 year old trying to get my very own black amex. I currently have spent 130k on my card this year and supposedly amex looks for members to spend around 300k. Follow me on my journey!

Look forward to hearing back from you and much success on your business!

Best Regards,
AJ
Reply christina thomas
11:51 PM on September 23, 2011 
I have a visa black card lol. Does that come close?

http://credit-cards-pay.blogspot.com
Reply John Sciacca
11:12 AM on September 24, 2011 
christina thomas says...
I have a visa black card lol. Does that come close?

http://credit-cards-pay.blogspot.com

No. Note even close. I've gotten like 3 separate invites to get Visa Black. For similar money, I'm sticking with my AmEx Platinum. The US Air and Priority Pass airport lounge access is WAY worth the money. But thanks for reading and leaving the comment! :-)
Reply carolina casanova
8:41 PM on January 14, 2014 
i like adqured this card American exprex black pless givme a invitacion thank you....