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On January 7, 2012, I was one of the lucky people to take advantage of a limited promotion for the American Express Platinum Card, which had a huge sign up bonus of 100,000 points, thanks to this post by Travel Summary. This was a “deal” that apparently existed, via Credit Cards dot Com for some time, but when Travel Summary broke the news, the blogging world went viral, and the deal was history within a day. I wrote about it here in a post entitled Anatomy of a Blogging Frenzy. The deal was so great that even Won’t Run For Miles applied for it!.
The offer expressly provided that the welcome bonus offer was not available to applicants who had this product (i.e. the Platinum Amex) within the last 12 months or any Consumer ZYNC, Green or Gold Card account within the last 90 days. I had had a Gold Amex that I’d canceled a number of months ago, and it didn’t even dawn on me at the time that the cancellation might have been around 90 days ago.
I applied for the offer on January 7th online and then followed up with a phone call (fyi – I have a fraud alert on my account, and can never get “automatic” online approval). After the usual questions and answers, the representative told me that I was approved, though this sounded more like an unofficial approval rather than an official approval. The next day, January 8th, I received an email officially notifying me that my application was approved. On January 10th, I received the card, which had been FedEx’ed to me.
On January 11th, I phoned American Express to activate my card. Activation is not automatic, but entails a lengthy call where the agent notifies you of all of the benefits of the card, and helps to sign you up for some of these services. During this conversation, we spoke of the 90 day requirement. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t run afoul of this because one of the paramount reasons I had applied for the card was for the 100,000 points. I had canceled the Gold Amex on October 9th or 10th. The rep crunched the numbers and told me in no uncertain terms that I had “cleared” the 90 day requirement and that I was fully eligible for the sign up bonus. I asked him repeatedly, and he assured me I was fine. I asked him his name, and wrote down the details of this conversation. Thank you Chris from Ohio.
Fast forward a month or two. I spent the $3,000 spend requirement, and was waiting for the 100,000 points to post. Nothing. Won’t Run for Miles got his 100,000 points. (How pissed off was I?)
I phoned American Express, and the agent put me through to a supervisor, April. She told me that I could not receive the 100,000 points because I’d had another card within 90 days. What? I explained the facts to her till I was blue in the face. She said that there was nothing she could do, that the phone activation guy had no authority to make representations about the 90 day requirement, and that my only recourse was to send a letter to a Post Office address in Fort Lauderdale.
On Twitter, I spoke to some friends and experts about the turn of events (btw – I’m @katruns26point2 on Twitter). I was so upset and frustrated. @AskAmex, the customer relations twitter representative responded and told me to write a letter via secure message and to write it to the attention of Courtney. I did so here:
Please forward this email Att: Courtney, per her instructions at @askAmexCourtney: here is the chronology of facts.On October 9th or 10th, I canceled my Premier Rewards Gold card.
On January 8, I was approved for the Platinum Amex. with 100K points, upon spending $3,000 within three months. Under the terms of the promo I could not have had the green or gold card within the last 90 days.
On January 11, 2013, I received the card via fed ex and I telephoned the number on the card to activate it. The agent I spoke to was Chris in Ohio.Because the timing of the cancellation of the gold card and the approval/receipt/activation of the platinum card were close to 90 days, I spent a lot of time discussing this with Chris. He calculated the numbers and told me that I cleared the 90 days. I asked him a few times, and he repeatedly assured me that I was eligible for the 100K points, provided I reached the spend requirement.
I in fact spent the $3,000 expeditiously, and have since been waiting for the 100k points to appear on my statement. Today, for the first time – I spoke to a rep, and thereafter a supervisor (April) who said there was an issue with the 90 day requirement.
first, if you look at a pure calculation of days, it is at least 90 days between my gold cancellation and my platinum card. see, eg., http://www.convertunits.com/dates/from/Oct+10,+2012/to/Jan+8,+2013
second, I relied on the statements of Chris from Ohio, when he crunched the numbers and repeatedly reassured me that I met the qualifications for the 100K promo. I would not have gone forward, had he told me otherwise.
It would be unfair if an Amex employee told me one thing, and then another department reneged on that, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t Amex tape these conversations? I am positive if you play back the conversation I had with your colleague, you’ll hear that he told me at least three times that I was eligible, and had nothing to worry about.
Of course, now I am so upset. I am an excellent customer with excellent credit.
A few hours after I sent this secure message, I was notified of a response. I was really scared to open the message. However, I am pleased to say that it was positive. Extremely positive.
Dear Ms. Kass,
I am extremely sorry for any inconvenience caused.
To assist you best possible way, I have immediately issued 100,000 bonus points on your account.
You can view these points online within the next 48 to 72 hours.
I hope my quick action is to your satisfaction.
Have an excellent day!
Email Servicing Team
American Express Interactive Services
And, voila, there were 100,000 more points on my account. I am most pleased with the results. My faith is restored. This is not an example of a time I feel I got something unexpected or undeserved. I truly believe I was entitled to the 100,000 point promo. In fact, I was tempted to write Amex and ask for some extra points for my inconvenience. Then I laughed at myself.
Here are some lessons learned:
1) when applying for an offer, always take screen shots of the offer
2) take notes of any conversations. I can’t tell you how many times, I’m told “who told you that” by Credit Card reps. I hate that so often I have to feel like I’m on the defensive, but its a fact. If I hadn’t taken notes of the date and details of my January 11th conversation with Chris from Ohio, I doubt American Express would have given me the 100,000 points I was entitled to.
3) Follow up. Be assertive, but nice.
4) Twitter rocks. So many corporations have better customer service via twitter than on their phone lines, and the response is often almost immediate. @AskAmex helped save the day.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.