Myer’s limited online shopping experience. Things are not off to a good start for Bernie Brookes’ new online “direct from China” shopping website. The expansive selection of one kitchen appliance, two computers and three or four saucepans has come a cropper, thanks to the fact the selection is so poor and many of the items can be found cheaper elsewhere. (Myfind.com, which carries no Myer branding, offers a smallish selection of goods.)

Myer spies say the site has had a somewhat underwhelming start, with sales tracking well below expectations. Industry observers are having a bit of chuckle about the modest selection of goods available online to consumers who are deserting Myer and Harvey Norman for the internet.

Is supermarket bread really fresh? In the furious battle for the budget shopper, one supermarket is stocking up on discounted goods — in the freezer. Apparently home brand bread, of all items, is being defrosted and labelled as “fresh” on the shelves …

Why I had to quit Amex. I don’t know how many other Amex card holders are outraged, but from the tone of a call centre cancellation officer at Amex it seems quite a few. I have been an Amex green card holder since 1975. More recently, the card has crept up in price — to $80 annual membership and another $80 to manage loyalty points. It’s expensive compared with Visa and Mastercard cards. Plus an increasing number of retailers and service providers, when you flash an Amex, ask if you have any other cards because Amex costs them more. Despite this, it was a good card to have for travelling overseas.

Last week a letter arrived from Amex setting out new terms and conditions. It was personalised, but short and sweet. It said that effective from April 17, under a heading of “Liquidated Damages” the cardholder agrees they may be charged “liquidated damages ” if they fail to pay the full monthly statement balance by the due date. The charge would be 3% or $20. This may have been a replacement for a late payment fee, but the letter did not say that. I’ve never been charged a late payment fee.

It took less than a minute to decide that I don’t agree to pay “liquidated damages” whatever they are, although the term sounds legally threatening. Maybe that is the intention. Instead I cancelled my card and will happily do without it. I will save myself at least $160 a year plus any “liquidated damages” that may emerge if I pay at the end of the month rather on a due date a few days before. The nice lady at Amex tried to talk me out of it, even offering me a reduced membership fee. But too late.

Peter Fray

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