Don’t Leave Home Without It?

On second thought maybe it “Pays To Discover”

After a recent experience with American Express I feel as though the bad guys are winning the war! I’m beat down and find myself thinking more and more often that “it’s just not worth my time” to follow my advice and demand great service and vote with my feet when I don’t get it. I’m battered and bruised from websites that don’t work as advertised, call centers filled with un-empowered representatives, and large company policies designed to put as much space between customers and decision makers as possible.

I’m battered and bruised from websites that don’t work as advertised, call centers filled with un-empowered representatives, and large company policies designed to put as much space between customers and decision makers as possible.

When I called the AMEX Membership Rewards team to ask about a discrepancy in my points balance I experienced “no” in a so many ways it made sales associates at the “No-Store” (Macy’s) seem like amateurs.

Here are the highlights of my experience with AMEX which makes me want to make sure that I do in fact “leave home without it”:

  • When I told the Members Rewards agent that I had spoken with Customer Service a few weeks earlier and they had confirmed my issue but had not fully resolved it the agent, Amanda, on the phone told me that Customer Service didn’t know how to handle this issue and that I should never have called them. My take away: I did it wrong.
  • Amanda confirmed the conversation I had with CS was noted in the system but it didn’t matter since they were wrong and my points balance was what it was. Amanda said there was nothing she could do. My take away: there was nothing Amanda wanted to do.
  • Amanda instructed me to send a fax to corporate HQ. It would be responded to within six to eight weeks. My take away: The executive in charge of this function is either oblivious or evil.
  • At my request Amanda put her manager on the line but before she did she assured me that there was nothing she could do either. My take away: collusion!
  • Crystal came on the line and the first words out of her mouth were: “I must inform you that this call is being recorded for quality purposes. Can you please state your first and last name”. My take away: WOW!
  • Crystal was an expert at “no”! I made several suggestions and requests about how to resolve my issue without me faxing HQ and Crystal responded with a brisk “no” each time. My take away: Crystal’s variable compensation is based on the number of times she denied customers.

It was this fast and furious barrage of no’s that eventually led me to do that thing where frustrated customers ask to speak with the “person in charge”. It was no longer about the points but now about this terrible experience I had. Crystal gave me the name of the Sr. VP and General Manager for Membership Rewards. When I asked Crystal for her phone number Crystal told me that “Ms. Lynne Biggar does not take calls.” The person in charge of member rewards does not take calls from members. Amazing! Crystal gave me the number to Fax my complaint to and reminded me that it would be six to eight weeks before I heard anything. Before hanging up I asked Crystal (sincerely) if she would have preferred to solve my issue herself. She said, “we would like to solve all customer issues but sometimes we just have to say no.” She really said this….wow.

I decided that Crystal was just being dutifully protective of AMEX executives. I called HQ the next morning and asked for Ms. Biggar. The operator told me that all calls are screened and she needed my name and the reason for my call. That seemed reasonable. I stated my name and the reason I was calling. The operator told me that I would have to fax that information in and that it would take six to eight weeks to get a response. I have to admit I admired the consistency. AMEX must have really good “no” training.

Here is a quote from American Express’ website: “As a company whose primary mission is to take care of customers, American Express has created a culture with service at its core. We dedicate extensive resources and effort to satisfying and surprising customers with thoughtful, creative and personalized solutions.”

I know….Wow.

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