The Amex Fiasco from 2010

April 13th Update: More dissappointment

If you happen to be an Amex customer service supervisor that is looking here because we said this is where you can find our why we are leaving, Thanks for looking at this!  We really don’t want to leave but I think when you see what our experience has been you’ll understand.  We’ve listed the events most recent first so you may want to start at Post #1.

So we’ve had our new card now almost two months and are starting to get ready to use the valuable Platinum Card benefits... only one problem.  They’ve “changed”.  Which is the polite way to say they’ve eliminated most of the benefits that we were interested in.  It’s a little confusing to follow and we can’t seem to get the total amount of changes from any one customer service agent  but today we persisted in getting transferred to 3 different people to find out if we are going to get anything for our $700 fee that is worth anything to us.  Answer: No.  The first class lounge benefit is no longer good at Continental and to get it at the other airlines you have to fly on the airline and you have to get a Priority Pass sent to you before you depart.  Since we’re already out of the US and they had so much trouble getting our card sent we don’t even want to think about how difficult this would be or how long it might take so we’re not messing with it.  The free companion pass alone would be great!  But not so fast... you have to depart from the US and we’re not in the US so that doesn’t work for us either.  So here we are we’ve got this treasured Platinum card and for the privilege of paying and extra $700 we get the same terrible customer service and no real benefits.  We have a 30 year old relationship with this company that is about to be severed as soon as we get back to the US and use up our points.  Sorry Amex we tried very hard to make this work but your system no longer works for us.  Too much frustration, we’re out!

Post #2

We finally got our cards February 18th.  It only took about 8 attempts including the cards automatically sent to the wrong address plus $100 in international long distance 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!

Post #1

I decided to list the facts here for two reasons.  First is that I’m tired of repeating this saga on expensive phone calls to Amex customer service agents.  So for the next customer service agent that tries to fix this (so far there have been 4 attempts) I will ask them to read this page and then call me back.  Second is that I’m hopeful some Amex executive will go here to get these facts and do something with them to improve.  I’ve been a very satisfied, and I’m sure their records will show I’ve been a very valuable customer for over 30 years and would much prefer they solve the problem than force us to lose their services.  Everybody makes mistakes and I’m not the kind of person that gets upset over that.  This fiasco is way worse than an isolated mistake.  The only way this could have happened is a combination of individual mistakes and systemic problems.  So here are the facts:

Our Amex was compromised while we were in George Town, BS shortly after Christmas 2010.  They did a great job of notifying us and eliminating fraudulent charges.  Also they had to cancel our card and did so effectively.  They also notified us a replacement would be mailed to our billing address.

We had just returned from the US to George Town and would not be back in the US for about 6 months so we called to ask that they not send the card as we wouldn’t be there.  The agent we spoke with told us they’d make sure it didn’t go out until we called them.

Several days later the card arrived at our billing address anyway.  Mistake number 1.  This really bothered us since a card sent to an address where we won’t be is a risk to us.

Next we decided to call and get the card sent to George Town and at the same time upgrade to a Platinum card.  The agent we spoke with told us that was not possible.  He explained that since our card was numbered at the “900” level we had to get a completely new card number assigned and sent to our existing address first.  Then we had to activate it and then they could upgrade it to Platinum and send the card anywhere we were.  Mistake number 2.  This must be systemic but here we have to have another card sent that we cannot use.  How many credit cards that we don’t want have to be sent to addresses where we are not there to receive them before we get the card sent to where we really are????

At this point we had a real dilemma.  No matter what happened we couldn’t get our card sent to us because of this number issue.  We didn’t understand this at all.  If our card had been an 800 series it could be sent to us in George Town but because it was a 900 they couldn’t do it.  Mistake number 3.  Clearly systemic but yet another card must be sent that we cannot use.   We’re now actually getting concerned that we may have to get a LOT of cards sent that we don’t want and can’t receive just so they can get 2 that we can actually use to us.

There was absolutely nothing the agent could do to override this so we had them send it out.  Our billing address is a mail service designed for cruisers like us.  We pay them to hold, open and scan contents for viewing online, and destroy our mail.  Each day they display on a secure website the scanned images of our mail and we decide which we want scanned and which we want destroyed.  So when the new cards arrived we copied down the numbers and info from the scanning and activated the cards with our cell phone.  Worked like a charm!  We asked the mail service to destroy the card and then we called to upgrade to Platinum.  Our next stop would be the Turks and Caicos and after that we’d be on the north coast of Dominican Republic at Ocean World Marina and Resort.  This is a huge, well established resort that we could easily get mail from so we wanted to get the new card there.  We phoned them and they gave us the address and assured us they receive mail and packages every day for their guests so this would be no problem.

All of the Amex customer service reps were very friendly, articulate, and seemed to have a genuine desire to solve our problem.  This next agent was no exception and apologized profusely for all the trouble.  The upgrade was a snap and we requested they hold sending it to us.  This time we were told he would try but wasn’t sure he could stop it.  He then put us through to “special handling”.  This is where we really started having problems.  The first person we spoke with just couldn’t understand English sufficiently to even get the address we wanted it send to.  We had no choice but to try to make this work.  We painstakingly repeated over and over and over the address:

Ocean World Marina

SV Toucan Dream boat in transit

Confreci Main St #3

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

This address was given to us by the concierge at Ocean World Marina.  We explained the line “SV Toucan Dream boat in transit” was to alert customs that this package was for our boat in transit (SV Toucan Dream is the name) and this usually makes it easier to get it out.  The customer service rep we first spoke with about this was Sherman and his extension was 57125 at the 954 number for Platinum Card Services.  He was extremely polite and helpful but was not on the line while we spoke with “special handling”.  Shortly after this we got a call back and were told there was “no such address”.  When I asked him to read it back to me they had left off the city! Mistake number 4.  This problem here is that the special handling clerk couldn’t understand english and didn’t seem to realize what any of it meant.  How else could he leave out the city name??

Next we spoke with Wendy at extension #58134.  She was extremely professional and apologized profusely and even called us back when “special handling” dropped the ball yet again.  She next connected us to “special handling” and waited on the line while we attempted to get the address to yet another person that couldn’t speak English or understand the contents of an address.  It was very difficult but we seemed to have it all done right this time.

Two days later we got the “DHL doesn’t deliver to this address” message again.  We called Wendy, left a message and she called back promptly.  She was already aware the card didn’t go out and was planning to call us anyway.  Again we went to “special handling”.  Same drill again only we got the “this address doesn’t work” much quicker.  This time when he read the address to me “SV Toucan Dream boat in transit”  had been changed to “SV Toucan Dream Theme Park” and the city had been changed from “Puerto Plata” to Puerto Plaza!  We were running out of time because we were soon departing for Dominican Republic so we called and spoke with the next available agent, Charene at extension # 58773.  She was extremely professional, articulate and apologized profusely.  When she looked at the notes in our account she felt so bad she gave us 5000 free miles on our rewards balance.  I asked if she could use someone other than DHL and she said that wasn’t possible.  So over we went to “special handling” yet again.  The next day we repeated the “not deliverable process” again except the agent refused to tell us what address it was sent to!  So we asked immediately asked to speak with her supervisor.  We were connected with another superb lady named Laura Lee and she even gave us her direct phone number which I will not disclose here.  She looked at the record and said “she’d get to the bottom of this” and apologized profusely again.  She really sounded like she was not going to mess around.   She took personal ownership and attempted to send another card our immediately.  However when she did she found that somebody in the system had already sent another card out to our Florida address so the system wouldn’t let her send a card out until the next day.  That would be Tuesday February 15th.  Today is Wednesday Febuary 16.  I’m pretty sure Ms Lee is on a rampage to help us but she still will eventually need to enlist “special handling” and that’s the problem.  Clearly there is a problem in “special handling”.  I’ve lost count of how many mistakes we’re up to, maybe 8 or 10.  But I’ve got  a feeling this won’t get resolved ‘till we’re back in the US at our normal address.  And if Ms Lee can’t come through for us I’m not going to lose all my miles by quitting Amex.  I plan to down grade to the cheapest card they have until I use all my points.  Then I’ll cancel and be glad to be rid of Amex forever.

If you happen to be an executive with Amex that was referred here please remember I’m a good customer, and your people are exceptional.  The problem here is clearly not with them but with YOUR decisions, probably based on some flashy presentations about how much money you could save with this new outsourced shipping service from DHL.  You may even look at stats that indicate you are sending each card to me at an unbelievably low price.  But you’re looking at the wrong stat!  When you add up how many cards were cheaply sent to the wrong address you will find you could have sent a refrigerator to me cheaper!  Not to mention you’ve sent one of your most loyal, best customers to a competitor.  I really like the benefits of your Platinum service but if you can’t deliver a card to me better than this how will you deliver on any of those benefits?  Please call me directly to discuss this.  I want you to get better and keep me as a customer but unless I get assurance you’ve changed “special handling” I won’t be a member much longer.  Sherman, Wendy, Charene, and Laura Lee all have my number.

© Christon Blair 2012