... And what doesn’t work

Boat business is tough.  Customers expect perfection and can be downright unfair just because of a “one time” mistake or one-in-a-million failure.  In the spirit of fairness we set a high hurdle for reaching “doesn’t work” status.  To get on this list a product or company has to fail miserably and we have to make multiple failed attempts to work the problem out with their customer service. Fortunately not many fail so badly but the few that are here very much deserve their place on the list of Stuff That doesn’t work:

American Express Platinum Card

Late Update: 

We finally got our cards February 18th.  It only took about 8 attempts including the cards automatically sent to the wrong address plus $100 of international long distance phone calls.  Laura, Wendy, Sherman, and Charene deserve a medal for getting this done in spite of the many unnecessary obstacles strategically placed by their management and computer system.  Not once did any of them complain but I know they must be having fits with DHL and the idiotic system they are forced to use.  Thanks Laura, Wendy, Sherman and Charene!!!  Thanks to you we’re still card members.  And a special message to your management:  You folks need to read this and have a long open discussion with your CS representatives about how to fix the mess YOU created for them!

We’ve been an Amex member for over 30 years and never had the expensive Platinum card they offer since we thought it was way too expensive for our budget.  But over the past 2 years we could have saved much more than the cost with its travel benefits.  So when our Amex was compromised in George Town we decided to get it replaced and upgrade to a Platinum.  With their reputation for catering to international travelers and high standard of service we thought this would be a good fit for us.  Every few weeks we’re in a new country and the Amex travel concierge service would be a huge plus.  Boy were we wrong!  This card has been a disaster for us.  There has been a comedy of errors ever since we tried to “upgrade” that have left us with no Amex and  absolutely no desire to ever get any product from them again other than we have a LOT of points with them.  We’re not just talking about one error but multiple missteps that have ranged from people in their customer service chain that don’t understand english to systemic problems that force customer service to do things that don’t make any sense at all and in fact expose us to even more theft risk.  This is so bad that I’ve dedicated a separate page to list all the facts that are pertinent.  I’ve included names and employee ID where I have them.  My impression is that Amex has transformed itself from a quality organization with empowered customer service to a “Dilbert gone wild” bureaucracy  that is hopeless, and paralyzed unless your exact need is on a button in their computer system.  In the weeks that this fiasco has ensued our USAA Master Card had to be replaced also.  It took them 4 days to get it to us in the Dominican Republic.  After 4 failed attempts Amex still hasn’t been able to accomplish this.  And they have cost us over $100 in long distance phone calls to fix THEIR errors.  The USAA Master Card is free.  Amex Platinum is $700.  What’s wrong with this picture?  For more details click here to go to the Amex Fiasco page.

OGM anchor light after 2 years

We’d heard OGM’s running lights were the best on the market and paid an upgrade to get them installed on our new boat.  They’re not serviceable and not cheap.  Two failed 12 months after installation.  First condensation appeared inside the unit and then it burned out.  After a lot of haggling OGM replaced two lights.  Within one year they failed again in the same manner and all of the other lights installed that hadn’t failed now have failed or have condensation.  I notice now they advertise a new 3M seal but dealing with them the first time didn’t make us feel real good and we want something we can count on.  So we’ve opted for a standard waterproof fixture and Dr. LED bulbs.  Maybe the new seals will work better and we might go through the hassle of trying to get the old units replaced again but I want some assurance I won’t have to climb the mast again before I’ll try them.  We know of other Manta owners that have had the same experience as us.  In the spirit of full disclosure we have friends that have had the opposite experience with them, including superb support.  If you try them I hope you get the better experience and not what we had.

Dinghy Lights

We’ve tried the glue-on bow lights several times and they just don’t last.  Dinghy bows get abused by cruisers in bouncy weather and crowded dinghy docks.  Even when we’re extremely careful to follow directions within a couple of months it starts to peel off.  In many US harbors this can be problematic and get you a ticket.  Also, don’t waste your time on the battery-powered lights you can buy.  The masts are not sturdy enough and the clamps are too weak.  If you’re real, real careful you can get a few months out of them.  And then there’s the green battery contact blob problem.  Unless you’re extremely careful the seals leak in the rain and bulbs/batteries become a total green glob mess.  You can delay the onset of green gunk with Corrosion Block but inevitably it will come.  After several tries we gave up on these products too.  However,  there are a couple of easy ways around this problem.  See the What Works page.

© Christon Blair 2012