American Express remains Destination Queenstown’s official card – but ratepayers can no longer use it to pay their rates.
Queenstown Lakes District Council has advised Amex-paying ratepayers it’s moving to a new software system that won’t accept payments from their cards.
Queenstowner Mike Harris says it was “a kick in the face” to receive the letter straight right after a successful Winter Festival for which American Express was once again naming sponsor.
“There’s a disconnect between what the council’s doing and what DQ is endeavouring to do with the American Express product.”
DQ boss Graham Budd says his organisation’s disappointed QLDC is moving away from a special arrangement put in place years ago.
American Express remains DQ’s preferred card and continues to strongly support Queenstown, particularly through its Winter Festival sponsorship, Budd says.
Council boss Adam Feeley says QLDC’s allowed ratepayers to pay by Amex for about 12 years and is the only council that’s offered this service.
About three per cent of ratepayers use the option, which has cost the council – “i.e. other ratepayers” – about $40,000 to $45,000 a year.
Council’s new off-the-shelf system doesn’t support Amex payments, Feeley says.
“We offered Amex the option of being added to our website portal, but they declined.”
Amex has been a valued Winter Festival, Feeley says, but it should be recognised QLDC’s also a sponsor, contributing $75,000 this year.
“Amex is an astute and reasonable business and, as such, I would like to think that they, and their customers, understand and accept QLDC’s approach to this issue.”
Alison Solomon, Amex New Zealand director of global merchant services, says they’ve been discussing the issue with QLDC for some time.
“Our preference is for Queenstown residents not to be charged convenience fees on top of their council rates.
“We are continuing our conversations with the council and hope to reach an agreement in the near future.”