Current and former employees say dodgy sales tactics date to at least 2015, when American Express was scrambling to retain Costco Wholesale small-business customers after the warehouse club ended their long-running partnership. The deal’s demise was a huge blow to AmEx. For 16 years, the warehouse club didn’t accept credit cards in its stores from any company but AmEx. AmEx also issued credit cards branded with the Costco logo that offered special perks. The potential revenue hit from the loss of the Costco customers was enormous, so AmEx launched an aggressive campaign to keep them. The push ushered in an era of escalating sales goals and hefty commissions that persists today.
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