Liquor Stores excluded from AmEx Small Business Saturday?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

By now, you've probably heard of Small Business Saturday from American Express:
American Express® Cardmembers can enroll an eligible American Express® Card to GET $25 BACK WHEN THEY SPEND $25 OR MOREat a qualifying small business location on November 24th. Cardmember enrollment in the offer is limited. Offer Terms apply to Cardmember participation.
Nice promotion, right? $25 just for registering your card and buying something at a qualifying merchant.

But Daniel Posner at Grapes the Wine Company noticed something that might affect wine deal hounds. Have a look at the conditions for participating merchants which exclude those that "promote...liquor":
For the purpose of this Program, qualifying small businesses include small, locally-owned storefront and online businesses with $10 million in annual revenue or less. Businesses in the following industries are excluded: government agencies, charities, non-profits, trade associations, shopping property management firms, political, religious and educational organizations. Small businesses that are part of a franchise brand with more than 100 stores are excluded. Additionally, if a franchise brand has more than 20 corporate-owned units, then the entire brand is excluded. Small businesses that promote any of the following are not eligible for the Program: pharmaceuticals, drugs, politics, pornography or sexual aids, diet aids, gambling, liquor, tobacco, firearms/weapons, or any sensitive topic with respect to current events. See Terms of Participation.
It sounds like AmEx is trying to distance themselves from controversial businesses, but it's not clear to me what "promoting" means in this context and further what they mean by "liquor". Did they intentionally choose the word liquor instead of alcohol? Liquor is a distilled beverage which contains alcohol. Wine contains alcohol but is not liquor. And what if a merchant sells wine and liquor - does that disqualify the merchant?

If you look at the Where to Shop Map you can find plenty of wine stores listed. I thought for a moment merchants with the string "liquor" in their name might be excluded but I see plenty of places included - including "Liquor Land" so that doesn't explain it.

All in all, I'm left confused whether my patronage of a local wine businesses will trigger a $25 statement credit.

AmEx: What's the deal? Are liquor stores excluded from Small Business Saturday?

Wine retailers: What are you hearing? Are you eligible for Small Business Saturday this year?

Consumers: If you shopped at a wine store today let us know whether that transaction successfully received $25 back.

Check back later for a roll-up of CyberMonday wine deals. Subscribe to The Wellesley Wine Press for email notifications of new posts.

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