Amex Customer Service Sucks! What Is Wrong with the Culture of this Once Premium Brand?

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American Express Customer Service Letdown

American Express Customer Service Letdown

American Express has been long known as a bank with high-end products designed to deliver a high-end customer experience. Their customers have traditionally been more affluent and cards like the Platinum and Centurion are status symbols for many.

Over the past couple of years American Express also decided to go into the low-end game with products like Bluebird and Serve. This sort of went against their brand image and to this point it doesn’t seem to have worked. Serve, like the company as a whole, is in serious trouble. Recently many people in the Serve division were let go and we are told they will be cutting costs in 2016.

I Actually Like Amex

Personally, I have always liked American Express and they still have a lot going for them. I live in a city with a Centurion Lounge, so I enjoy using it before flights. Their Amex Offers programs has also been very generous and who can argue with that 150K bonus on the Business Platinum last year? On the flip side though is my realization over time that they simply aren’t the company they once were and they are moving in the wrong direction.

A few months ago I covered a chat experience I had where the original question wasn’t captured. Despite their chat agent clearly saying something to my wife in writing, American Express denied that they said it. Then the supervisor said she would see what she could do and call us back. She never did and we got the run around when trying to follow up. In the end we gave up. It was just taking too much time and wasn’t worth the hassle.

Yesterday I covered the highest ever bonuses on the Hilton HHonors Surpass and the Hilton HHonors No Annual Fee Amex. My wife happened to get the Surpass a couple of months ago with an 85,000 bonus, so we naturally tried to get American Express to match her to the current 100K. Historically Amex hasn’t really done this, but I know of a few people who recently had success getting matched to the 35K SPG offers.

Trying to Get the Match

The first avenue my wife tried was chat. After being placed on hold a few times on the chat, the agent said no match would be given. My wife was also connected with a supervisor who said to call in to see if anything could be done. Calling in turned out to be a disaster and it shows what a joke their customer service has become.

My wife called the specific number given by the chat supervisor and was connected with an agent who said she needed the offer code of the 100K offer. My wife tried to explain it was the public offer on their website, but that wasn’t good enough. Finally I found an offer code in the terms, but the agent said she had to transfer my wife and she did.

Agent number two asked my wife to explain what she wanted and then without saying anything the line went dead and a few seconds later my wife was talking to agent three. That is correct. Agent two blindly transferred my wife to agent three in mid-sentence. Of course agent three couldn’t help either so she sent my wife to agent four.

Agent four told my wife that his internet was down, that he couldn’t see the offer and that she should call back in 7-10 days. What?!? My wife was done at this point and just gave up instead of asking to speak to a supervisor. I don’t blame her since she doesn’t love calling companies and this experience was a joke. It is clear that agent four just blew her off and lied to get her off of the phone.

A Corporate Culture in Trouble

I have worked in several large companies and have also worked in call centers as well. Experiences like my wife had yesterday or like what we had with the chat months ago don’t happen by chance. I haven’t even mentioned the other times I have called only to be greeted by a bored and unfriendly agent. A culture grows within any call center and behavioral practices spread from agent to agent. Whoever is in charge of American Express customer service should pull my wife’s call from yesterday and see if that experience is representative of the American Express brand. I sadly think it is.

Will my wife call back and go through even more hassle just to get 15,000 Hilton HHonors points? Probably not. The customer service agents have won. They got her off the line, but the damage has been done. American Express is just a bank and nothing more. Their brand isn’t what it once was and people are catching on. Remember how much I said I love my Platinum card? Well guess what? I love my Prestige even more.

Not only do I think the Prestige is a better card because of its superior benefits, but as a Prestige cardholder I am connected to specialist customer service agents in South Dakota. These people are among the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever dealt with over the phone. Like I said before, it is all in the culture of the call center. Whenever someone at Citi answers the phone and says they are in South Dakota, I know it will be a pleasant experience.

Conclusion

To close, I am not whining or even saying that American Express has to change. Clearly I get great benefit from my relationship with them and I recognize that. They don’t owe me those 15,000 points either. With all of that said, this is a company headed in the wrong direction and I worry about the effect more cost cutting will have. Customer service is important and I think American Express has lost focus on that. No, I know they have.

What do you think? Have you had similar experiences or has American Express lived up to their premium reputation? Let us know in the comments!


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86 COMMENTS

  1. Amex customer service is literally the worst. I’ve been a member since 18 (college green card). There customer service used to be great, now is it terrible. I’ve walked away from actually using my cards with them (keep one for AAoA and one SPG for lounge access).

    I used to have the Platinum – requested the bonus points advanced (um already paid bill, made all the charges, why should I have to wait 30 extra days for promised points wth). The supervisor accused my of fraud and told me I got the card for the 100k signup only and have no intent on keeping the card.

    There chat is useless. They actively go out of their way to avoid allowing you to actually use value out of MR.

    FU Amex. Bye!

  2. I like your blog and have got some good deals because of it. One question I do have, and would love to see how all the big bloggers would answer, but would you consider yourself a good customer or a bad customer from the card issuer’s point of view? If you were an executive from Amex, Chase, or any of the big banks would you want YOU as a customer?

    The banks/airlines set terms and we abide by them. We can get 12 bonuses for the same card just as they can make Emrites 1st class go from 80k mile to 180k miles in the middle of the night. But where I think you are wrong is railing on Amex customer service because you didn’t get to exploit their process enough.

    • Hi Shaun,

      Perhaps I didn’t make it clear that this editorial isn’t about whether or not we got matched to the offer, but about the experience of dealing with them as a customer. I wasn’t trying to exploit anything. If for example my wife had called and spoke to an agent who tried to help and eventually came up with the answer “No”, then fine. I may not like it, but it wouldn’t be a customer service failure. She spoke to four people and not one of them helped and the last one simply lied.

      This post really comes out frustrations from a number of experiences with Amex where their agents are at best indifferent and at worst rude. I do think I am a good customer to the banks in that I pay my bills on time and use their cards. I also pay annual fees on some cards. Their ideal customer would always pay on time, use their cards exclusively and carry debt all of the time so they can collect interest. That is never going to be me, but that doesn’t mean I am a bad customer.

      • “If for example my wife had called and spoke to an agent who tried to help and eventually came up with the answer “No”, then fine. I may not like it, but it wouldn’t be a customer service failure. She spoke to four people and not one of them helped and the last one simply lied.”

        The very first person told you the answer was no, and you pressed on. And now they’re lying (because you know without any doubt their internet was working just fine?) and rude. OK. Sucks to be you I guess. I think Amex customer service is quite good, and I’ve never had a bad interaction with them.

        • Well first off there are dozens of people who commented here sharing similar experiences. Second, the first person (on chat) told me to call in so they didn’t exactly say no. They said that only phone agents can help. You are correct that I don’t know that the agent lied per se, except that it was very clear he was not being helpful and trying to get my wife off of the line. I’m glad you have had good experiences and it certainly doesn’t suck to be me and no where did I ask you or anyone else to feel sorry.

          If you want me to be an apologist for American Express then I’m sorry that won’t happen. I have been a customer for a very long time and they have outsourced their customer service over the past few years and announced that they will be making further cuts. These are facts. They have also eliminated their secure message tool and made it harder to get in contact with the people you want to speak to. Their automated system has 3-5 levels in most cases and continues to get more complicated. What you don’t seem to understand is that this isn’t about me and it isn’t about this one experience. This experience is just an example of what is happening regularly. This is a cultural problem within the ranks of Amex customer service in my opinion and you know what they say about opinions.
          Have a great day!

          • No, I don’t want you to be an apologist for Amex. You ended your post with “What do you think?”, so I told you what I thought. This post struck me as “I’ve got an audience and an ax to grind, so I’ll make Amex regret not giving me something I was pretty sure they wouldn’t give me anyway.” If you had jumped through all those hoops and finally gotten your 15,000 HH points, would you still have made this same post? If so, then I’d be convinced this was about customer service rather than sour grapes.

          • I appreciate you sharing what you think. I assure you there is no axe to grind here and I didn’t write this to get anything from Amex. The truth is that yes I would still write this same exact post if my wife had been treated that way and then given the points. As I said in a previous comment, the only difference would be I would make sure to tell everyone that they did come through. You don’t have to believe me, but it is the truth.

            As always, I appreciate everyone’s opinion and am glad you came here to share your thoughts.

      • If they acted in the same manner then I would have written the exact same post except I would have mentioned that they did give the points instead of not giving the points. As I said in the final paragraph, American Express doesn’t owe me any points and this had nothing to do with that.

  3. I was planning to call amex for the same reasons but looks like I will not bother. Talking about customer service, lately I have received a very good response from Discover. Is that a temporary thing or others agree

  4. Didn’t have it as bad as you and your wife did. But calls have been less and less pleasant, even with supervisors. Point blank rude at times. Asking for the 35k match was a horrible experience.

    • I called the other day to get a 5K bump up to match the current SPG bonus. Got it done on both cards by a VERY pleasant representative and all within (yes, I timed it) 6 minutes, start to finish. 10K SPG points at no cost in 6 minutes? That there is some good customer service! Plus a one night reversal due to a complaint about a recent hotel stay?

      I loves me the AMEX people even though last year I got a FR from them. It was fast and fair and the people always polite. YMMV but I have yet to hang up pissed off.

      That said though, as of late I have also receive stupendously great treatment from Citi cards peeps as well. Maybe going in nice helps also? As the old man said, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar!”

      • I agree being nice helps a lot and I always do my best to be pleasant having been someone who worked on the other side. With that said, I am glad you found a great agent who helped. Your story is amazing and perhaps provides some hope.

      • Hi Carl. Caught your second paragraph re. the “FR”…. Could you share what in your understanding would have triggered that? MS activity?

  5. Personally, I think the way Amex did the Bluebird/Serve shutdowns are an example of their bad customer service. If they thought putting $5000/month on your card was too much, just lower the limit. If they were suspicious of someone having activity that was against the terms and conditions, just call it for what it is. The “unusual activity” they claimed seems to be another lie, just like how they lied to your wife about the internet being down. I don’t like when companies are vague and don’t call it for what it is. It’s much better if a company just lays out their terms clearly and then abides by them.

    • Dumping potentially profitable customers when you are losing money is even worse!

      They should have figured out what amount of spend makes an account profitable, implemented reasonable load fees and offsetting rebates based on spend. That way people who just wanted to load and billpay could be profitable to the company right along with people who use it for regular spend.

  6. I miss the days when I could email them and have a paper trail. Their chat function is a joke. I hate using it…..

    • Yeah, it’s been very hit and miss for me with their chat. I’ve had a few good experiences but I’ve also had my share where it was obvious the representative didn’t actually read my initial question otherwise it would’ve been painfully obvious what they needed to do, in the process wasting half an hour.

      I can’t help but get the impression that you have a few motivated people who actually do care and then there are many who appear to haphazardly read your questions or concerns and address them with the least effort possible. I’m sure to some extent its a reflection of the culture.

      I think Shawn is on to something here though. Many calls or chat’s have had this feeling of disconnect as far as representative training as many seem caught off guard and put on the spot and don’t know the answer to simple questions. Kind of awkward really.

    • Can’t agree with this more. Had one rep tell me one thing in chat, but then I was denied my points later because their was no paper trail. Sigh

  7. Overall, I agree that Amex’s customer service has gone downhill. But the quality varies. Sometimes, the CSRs are very polite and helpful in resolving issues. Other times, I get a huge runaround with calls re-routed to India, the Philippines, Canada, and various US call centers. Many of these re-routed calls are cold transfers, unlike Chase where the CSR stays on the line and *asks* to be released from the call before turning you over to the next CSR.

  8. they REALLY are just aweful! They don’t have secure messaging online like other banks and half the time the live chat either doesn’t work or is slow as molasses. when you call you get stuck in a frustrating loop of automated options and when you finally get a hold of someone sometimes you get disconnected or they don’t speak very good English. and they make you jump through hoops to prove that you earned any sort of referral bonus (except SPG, that went smoothly). infuriates me to no end!

  9. On the 29th I applied for the SPG card (used your link) and it went into pending. I called to see if there was anything I could do to push it through since I knew I was pushing it as it was my 5th Amex. Unfortunately it was after hours and I spoke with outsourced help from three different people that spanned a 45 minute phone call and it went no where. Fortunately it did have a happy ending as I received an approval email early in the morning (saved me another call) but it definitely left me with a bad taste as far as Amex service is concerned.

    The first guy was the most clueless, followed by the second guy who literally said “I have no idea why the last representative blindly transferred me to you when they should see this information on their screen.” Rep #2 told me he would have to transfer me back to the department I just spoke with as it was a new accounts related question (will I get the higher bonus if I’m approved after the deadline). Rep#3 reiterated that rep#1 should’ve been able to push the application through to get an immediate decision but according to him he couldn’t do anything about it as it had already been sent to another department and it was after hours.

    Didn’t really believe any of them knew fully what was going on. I know outsourced help sucks, but they fell short of my already low expectations. I felt like I was on the phone with Comcast trying to deal with a service issue. I don’t think Amex want’s to be associated with that level of service…

  10. During my latest GC/MO run to WM, I noticed that serve/bluebird cards were barely visible in several of the stores, and WM is heavily pushing their own prepaid card with 1% cashback at WM and 3% at wm.com. Theirs is a Visa so it has true debit capability and wide ATM acceptance. Why would a low budget penny-pinching customer ever bother with Bluebird? Considering the ridiculous merchant fees AMEX charges, you’d think they would give some cashback to entice new users.

  11. I’ve been a customer of Amex for 22 years, and recently cancelled several cards because of their poor service. You would think that cancellations of cards by a long-term customer would motivate their customer service to try and rectify the problems I presented. Nope!

    • I have to agree. My situation is nearly identical to yours. I had several Amex cards, but decided to walk away and terminate them all. The poor handling of the Costco co-branded American Express TrueEarnings and its transition to Citibank after Costco and Amex could not agree on future program terms was the last straw. I found the communication from Amex to be poorly thought out and executed. On top of that, their customer service was not just inadequate, it was downright atrocious. I haven’t interacted with Amex much in recent years, aside from being a happy and loyal customer. That said, I consider the mishandling of the Costco account, which drove about 10% of their corporate revenue, and the inexcusable slide in their customer service standards to be a deal breaker. I’m not going to pay a premium for this type of poor service. I also think that it would be foolish to continue a business relationship with an entity I can no longer trust.

  12. everyone here is a bunch of idiots. name me one bank that has BETTER customer service than Amex. Oh right, you can’t.

    • (waits for April Fools line)

      But yeah if you’re actually serious, there are a bunch.

      If you actually read this blog you’d notice Shawn already listed one for you: Citi. They’re not outsourced and I’ve yet to have any bad experiences. Barclay is another bank I’ve had nothing but good experiences with. Discover as well since they’re not outsourced (as long as you don’t dabble in their Discover Deals). I haven’t had to do this but many have noted that Chase has a direct phone number for CSP and that you should use this as your direct number for any of your chase cards (assuming you have the CSP) and you’ll get great service.

      I’m sure others can continue this list for you but that’s all I got at the moment.

  13. Their chat lines are literally the poorest customer service agents on the planet. They are obviously using English sounding names(“James”, “Tommy” etc..) but their language is not what we would call “American” English(they put verbs in odd places and use odd tenses..”this being ready..” and use terms “..would gladly be pleasing…” that a US based rep simply would not use).
    That being said, I have no real issue with it except they have no real power to truly correct things and I get very little comfort that they even understand what I am asking. Most, not all, chat queries are a bit complex in nature. As such, these agents should be empowered to fix an issue. But most importantly, they should convey what AMEX supposedly stands for: Quality.
    Alas, those days are gone.
    Conversely, most phone agents seem a bit more qualified but only after requesting an agent in the US and then holding.

  14. I agree with Shawn’s assessment that Citi’s customer service rep is on point (however i still think Chase is slightly better in terms of friendliness). I had an issue where i bought concert tickets via ticketmaster and i didn’t get the x2 bonus since Ticketmaster was classified differently (only 1x). Customer service rep was able to handle it and all i needed to do was to send in a copy of the concert tickets receipt and they granted the extra points under the entertainment category.

  15. I have actually been really surprised by how Citi has completely dropped the ball on the citi 20k points for 0 spend error offer that went out in December. They still have not honored it 3 months later and every time we send them a SM their response is we know there was a problem and we are still looking into it….how long does it take to look into. IF you know there was an offer on the website then you bite the bullet and honor it…it has put a sour taste in my mouth. Even if they were not going to honor the offer just come out and say it…doing nothing just looks lazy.

    • Ditto. Called for the match on the SPG card and after 45 minutes I was finally told they would open a “case” and get back to me in 5 days. That was three weeks ago. Followed up last week and was told I’d hear by March 30. Still no reply. Amex Customer Service has really gone down the toilet lately.

  16. Recently I tried to sign up for the Braille statements and I called the foreign call center associated with my Amex airline card. The CSR’s had no idea what I was talking about. I tweeted @AskAmex and they refered me back to the call center rather than taking ownership of the problem.

    Finally I called the Platinum Card call center which is US based, and the CSR was able to look up in the system and perform the transaction to setup my account for Braille statements including on other cards besides the Platinum.

    My conclusion is the customer service is pretty bad unless you have the Platinum.

  17. Of course you deserve a better deal than one you agreed to and were happy to take. How dare they not bow to every whim and want of scheming customers trying bilk each deal for their own maximum gain at the company’s expense. Do they not know you are a travel hacker and blogger. The nerve of these companies to live up to there end of an agreement and not give any complaining mooches more free stuff. How dare they?!

    • Where did I say I deserve a better deal? In fact, I say they DON’T owe me the 15,000 points and make it clear this article isn’t about the match, but rather about the customer service. If you think I am a bad person for asking them to match then you sir have found the wrong blog. Banks match offers all of the time. Thanks for stopping by.

  18. AMEX has definitely seen better days. Outsourcing customer service to another country is a big gamble. No matter how courteous the reps are, I find they have minimal latitude besides towing the company line. Hoping they can turn it around.

  19. I have the platinum card and enjoy many of its features but I’m underwhelmed by customer service. Amex offers a 7,500 MR bonus if you refer a friend and the friend is approved for the card. I made the referral in December and received an email confirmation from Amex. My friend, using a link in the email he received from Amex prompted by my referral, applied and was instantly approved. In March, I talked to three representatives about when I get my points and was told Amex has no record of the referral. I offered to send them a copy of the email sent to me in December and on two separate occasions was told not to send it in until someone contacted me which would happen within 72 hours. No one has ever contacted me after two weeks. Even worse, the last rep. I spoke with who works in the membership rewards department went through the account notes and said that the previous representatives never set up a “case” to investigate my complaint. She promised to do that on Monday and to expect a call by Thursday. As of today (Friday), no call.

      • YUP, there’s something awfully wrong and I suspect it’s trickling down from the top … I wonder how long it will take before someone at AmEx wakes up and improves CS. Or … maybe they just don’t care about individual card-holders, who knows? That’s certainly the message they’ve been putting out for the last several years.

  20. about matching hilton pts to the new 75k pts bonus, spent more than 1/2 hrs together waiting on the phone & conversing with 2 supervisors & 1 manager but got nil, nothing!
    the present offer & mine is a considerable difference of 25K pts.; the 1st supervisor refused to transfer my call/ request to a manger, insisting that the answer will be the same. then, i hung up & called again; speaking with another supervisor who said no but ok to trasnfer my call to a manager. this manager said that 25K pts would cost amex about $1k (funny). i didn’t care to argue or correct him; instead suggesting to him that i’ll an upcoming purchase of $500-600 which i could use the amex hilton cc. his reply was still that the cost for additional 25K pts is about $1k, more than my planned purchase (darn it, these outsourced CSRs from philippines have no clue of what the correct value or know of talking about). but, he said could issue a statement credit to my account? i asked how much? $20. what a joke, i told him don’t bother as i don’t want it.
    regardless, i may try again next week but during day time or regular business hrs. when amx may have much better customer service, more friendly & diplomatic that the outcome would be somewhat better. will update…

    • success in getting goodwill pts earlier today during business hr… also found that CSRs in India call center are considerably more flexible & accommodating than those in Philippines

  21. Shawn,
    Thanks for restoring my sanity with your post (and the responses). I have been working with Amex since December on their insurance product for a broken iPhone screen. It has been the worst customer service experience of my life. I have spent hours and hours to save myself $300 and we still don’t have it resolved yet. When I searched online folks just raved about what great service they got with this product. I should have looked more closely at the dates. I no longer see this as a particular benefit of the card after having them lose, review, lose, review… several times. We have already exceeded the opportunity cost of my time and it isn’t even resolved yet.

  22. Had similar frustrating experience. Received platinum offer by mail for 100k points. No one recognized code; transferred 9 times to get to “right” person, only to be told we were not eligible – after 75 agonizing minutes. Well, why did u send the offer to me? Thought we could then mail in application for better experience but no one would give us an address (we had discarded the return envelope). No address after several more calls. Totally ridiculous! Can’t wait for their next offer to arrive. (Not!)

  23. I too called when I read it was possible to get courtesy points for the 35K SPG bonus after having just received 25K for my 3K spend. My first call a female with a thick accent said she could not do anything because my points from my last statement were still pending with SPG. Really? 600 points pending has anything to do with what I asked? A few days later I did a chat and got this garbage about how new account bonuses are “time specific.” This is the first time in my dealings with Amex that they have purposely went out of their way to not be helpful. Since though I was asking for something beyond the norm, I hope that it is just their financial difficulties that is causing them to be less generous. If I was really owed something and Amex would not comply, then I would close my accounts. As it is, I still like my Amex products.

  24. Prior to receiving the recent clarity on the new citi Costco credit card that would be transferred from Amex, I got several conflicting stories about the cashback earnings from Amex customer service agents. Stories ranged from ‘don’t use the card anymore because you won’t get cashback’ to referral to a useless website to ‘yes, you will get cashback but not sure how’. Family and friends also received confusing and contradictory information. I can understand that Amex doesn’t want to provide full support of its dying Costco credit card anymore, but this poor service could influence my perception of their other cards as well.

  25. If AMEX is so horrible…then why do you continue to get cards from them?

    I assume if a 300k Hilton offer came out, you wouldn’t get the card, right?

    You sign up for cards, get the bonus, then mainly stop using the cards. Rinse. Repeat. What incentive does AMEX have to providing you great service? You’re not a good customer.

    • I put about $250,000 a year through my AMEX cards and got the same or worse customer service than he did. They couldn’t care less what kind of customer you are, they are equal opportunity duds.

    • How do you define “good customer”? Is it a person who uses the card and pays his bills on time? Or some other metric? BTW, Amex has implemented “once in a lifetime” limits on getting a card, so there is no longer any sign up, rinse, repeat. If Amex were to offer a 300k Hilton card, I would probably sign up for the card, use it to meet the bonus threshold and either use it (if the earning structure were beneficial to me) or put it in the sock drawer (if the earnings were poor compared to my other credit cards). Amex sets the parameters. We just abide by those parameters in the most cost-effective manner. Amex’s decisions drive my decisions. And all this has very little to do with Amex customer service, which generally has gone downhill with some exceptions (Platinum card).

    • Did you miss this part, “Clearly I get great benefit from my relationship with them and I recognize that.” Why is it wrong to point out that their customer service has gone down the drains while at the same time acknowledging that I get benefit from my banking relationship?

  26. My wife and I both called Amex when the 35K promotion came out and wondered if our cards we had just gotten in February could be moved up to 35K. We were told no by 1st person and then the supervisor. They said our 25K cards were promotions and they could not do one promotion on top of the other. We were just very unhappy with Amex.

  27. They haven’t been very good for quite a long time. A little over two years ago, I received a targeted offer for 100,000 MR points for a business platinum card. I already had a business gold card for another business, but thought that I could have the platinum as well and get the bonus. I received the card and, because of the two businesses issue and the gold versus platinum issue, went on chat to confirm that I was eligible for the bonus. I laid out my situation exactly and the chat rep confirmed I was eligible. I kept the chat log. I then read that there might be problems, so before I paid my $10,000 tax bill with my AMEX with a fee just under $200, I again chatted with them, laid out the situation and my planned transaction and they again confirmed in writing that my transaction would qualify me for the points. Again kept the log of the chat. Made the transaction, did not get the points. Provided them with their own chat logs, did not get the points. Over the course of six months, called, chatted, snail mailed and no points. At various times was told that I would get phone calls and didn’t, was told that a supervisor called and talked to me when they didn’t (they had put notes about the nonexistent conversation in their system), finally after 6 months, received a letter from just below C level management that I would not be receiving my points. Called in to cancel and received retention bonus of 50,000 points. They have no idea what their staff are doing and will not stand behind their written communication.

  28. Shaun,

    Same terrible customer experience here with a recent forced customer service encounter with Amex Chat, as I try and avoid any need to ever engage any customer service at any company online! The “chat” was full of canned responses and codecending tones, clearly unintentional but a result of a non-English speaking agent in an overseas customer contact center. Was promised a follow-up call within 24 hours that never came and 12 days have passed and issue still unresolved. In addition to the end of the Costco card relationship, the JetBlue co-brand relationship was also ended with Barclay’s picking up the portfolio. I agree with you 100% that this is a corporate culture issue and the most likely root cause is the pressure on Wall Street financial firms to cut billions in expenses to enhance shareholder returns, which has lead to thousands of layoffs in recent weeks at these firms, with the resulting cuts in client services which will later produce plummeting revenues and then the whole cycle will begin to repeat as shareholders then demand investment in customer service in US-based call centers to improve revenue!

  29. When u try to get something you’re not entitled to, don’t complain when it doesn’t go your way. And then to complain about Serve, the product you try to manipulate via MS, give me a break.

      • I find that even though you provide lots of good free advice, try to help people and hand out fast breaking news, that NO MATTER what you do, someone is still gonna find a way to piss and moan about it.

        Yeah, I have my peeves too, but I do try to appreciate what all I have gotten from reading you and other bloggers, TravelCon II and whatever other ways I have been educating myself.

        Let the groaners and moaners roll off you like water off a duck’s back, eh?

        FWIW, Thanks to what I have learned in the last almost a year here and there online and TravelCon, I just got back from a month-long trip to the east coast (Seattle area based) and Europe (Paris, Florence, Rome, Bologna) and all out of pocket for right about $1280.

        Yes, that counts flights and trains, etc.

        Couldn’t have done it without you and other bloggers sharing free info and tips.

        So, thanks a great deal and ignore the complainers and keep up the great work.

        Carl

        • Hear, hear! A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. There’s no shame in asking for something that may not be your birthright, but you should be entitled to a friendly, “No,” if that’s their inclination. Getting bounced around the world to call centers in places you couldn’t pronounce is not good customer service.

  30. I had same experience with your wife. Just applied for the Hilton surpass less than one months. Called and tried to get extra points, the agent was blatant, she said ” what do you mean you wanna extra points, you have already accepted the offer!” After transferred to a specialist, she said we don’t offer courtesy points. And you had already accepted the offer. Then I asked her to escalate me to a manager. She said the manager would tell you the same and mentioned that the manager might not be available. She said she would make a note for the manager and would call me back until Friday. Nothing happened!
    Another issue is last year, I got several return payments for my credit card. I linked the AMEX credit card payment with my AMEX saving account, because sometimes my checking accounts do not have enough money. That month I have a high spending on my AMEX card. So I paid my three card with AMEX savings, i forget I already exceed the monthly limit for 6 traction for the saving accounts. So I got three return payment from the AMEX savings with AMEX credit cards. They charged me three times $20 for each and $60 total for the return payment. I asked them to waive the fee since it is my first time. They waived the first one, but still charged me $40. And they said, they cannot do anything about it. I was not happy but it is my fault. Later, when I applied for a SPG card, they used this to against me. They said I have return payment, so they cannot approve for a whole year. I explained to them, I used their saving account and they can check the money inside. However, nothing they can do except the terrible service they provided with me. I got another two return payment from CITI and barclay, they happily waived my fee and said it is not my fault.
    I

    • I’ve been a loyal AmEx client since 1972 (yes, I got my first card in second grade). But I couldn’t agree more about the culture of AmEx customer service in the lat 5 years. Not to mention the decline of Membership Rewards’ partners. Something is going on at the very top to turn this once revered company into a second or third-place entity. While no AmEx person has ever been rude, the CS reps are not as bright or as well trained … you sometimes have to repeat your problem 3 times to receive some understanding.

      I was “testing” AmEx against Chase Sapphire when AmEx discontinued the ability to email CS with a problem. That was the final straw … it made my decision much easier. I pay both cards in full every month, so to me they’re equal. Chase can drive you crazy with their backwards Fraud Department, declining supermarket charges out of state for instance. But enough yelling on my part seems to have taken care of that. I keep waiting for AmEx to come out with some real benefits and take back their rightful place in the foodchain of credit cards.

  31. Recently left Amex behind after two decades. I consider them to be the Kodak’s of credit cards. The benefits have failed to adapt to the competition and customer service has not lived up to the strong image once held by the brand. It’s just a matter of time before they’re absorbed by another company.

  32. As someone pointed out that AMEX outsourcing customer service overseas is the major cause of all the terrible experiences. It’s been 2-3 years as I’ve noticed, similar to Citi bank that AMEX outsoucing the costomer serce overseas in India, you can easily tell by their heavy accent.

    I have a long credit history with AMEX having both Biz and personal total of 5 accounts which is the Max limit number. Every time, after summiting a new application, I get a pending message telling that I’ve reached the Max. numbers of the limit. I then call to cancel one account, that is usually handled by the agents in the US, then I call the Application processing office to tell that I’ve just cancelled one account. The application such important issue, AMEX let the office in India handle it, the agent usually tells the application will be reconsidered and it takes 3-5 days. It’s very concerning not just sub-quality service, also the security of all the personal info. is in those 3rd world management hands.

  33. I had requested a transfer of credit from one card to be applied to the balance of another card. They said this would take 2-5 days, but most likely it will only take 2 days. After a week I contacted them through chat and they said to wait longer. At 2 weeks I spoke to a supervisor who promised to fix it and call back within 24 hours, and he also promised compensation for the trouble. 5 days later I did not hear from them and spoke to another supervisor who was awful and refused to help me. After 3 weeks they finally made the transfer which is totally unacceptable. Amex is going downhill fast.

  34. I have generally received great service from AMEX. I have my own personal rep I can contact as well if the need arises. The absolute worst by far is BARCLAYS. They are a disaster. With a tech issue I tried to redeem 300K points. It took 3 calls over three weeks and a formal complaint to CFPB to get it resolved. This is not the first time. They te.. you on the phone that your issue could take them 10-14 days to resolve. After about a month you get pissed. I dont call these companies constantly either. Chase has gotten better. Citi is generally ok. Capital One is a toss up

  35. HA HA HA HA! I can’t believe you wrote a post on this. No extra points for you..so they have HORRIBLE customer service. I have had great customer service from my limited experiences from Amex.

    • Perhaps you eluded to why you’ve had great customer service, i.e. “limited experiences” ??

      If the comments on this blog were used to create a poll on Amex service (tad bigger sample size than yours) I’d venture to guess a 75%+ thumbs down.

  36. My call went very well and I did get matched to the 35k even after 6 months of owning the SPG card. The agent told me I’d get a call within 48 hours from a supervisor who could help me. I did and not only did he issue me the additional 10k points, but also thanked me for being a good member. I also got 3k from the Hilton card but feel like I could get more if I pushed

  37. I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve had several terrible interactions with Amex. I’ve been hung up on once. Put on hold for 20 minutes another time–and by hold, I mean the agent put the phone down on the counter when I was midsentence and picked it back up after I heard background noise for 20 minutes. I only stayed on the line for the principle. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, my problem was magically fixed. I don’t even remember what the problem was, but I do remember the experience of being lied to and played. I’m at the point where I’m trying to be a bad customer for Amex–milking their products with as little as possible revenue for the company. Petty, yes. But a little goodwill would have gone a long way…

  38. I just had the worst customer service experience next to Comcast. American Express customer service used to be delightful to talk to so I’m at a loss as to what has changed. I just got the rudest two reps ever, condescending, etc. I’m a 17 year card member and now I’m going to leave. Goodbye Delta American Express Platinum – there are other point cards.

  39. Card did not work in london, plenty of credit (called ahead to tell them of my European destinations).

    When it would not work they blamed the chip..worked when back in Canada. Then they said merchants should use the strip..when I hand my card to a hotel, restaurant or retailer I think they know what to do. OR tell me to mention the strip before I leave. So for my trouble, embaressment, lack of financial support while in a foreign country they offered me a shiny new $50 dollar bill.

    I use the card all the time $40-60K on it a year. I am cutting it up and sending it to their CEO….

  40. I called Amex today for he first time from the Uk, not impressed!The most unfriendly woman who made me feel I was wasting her time with my questions, definitely not
    especting that, really dissapointed.

  41. The customer service has turned to complete crap, and I let them know that every time I speak to one of the representatives. I was, in fact, promised 50,000 points, and they are actually fighting with me (even though I have their documented offer) that the “call logs” from our conversations (me and the past representatives) stated it was granted under these conditions. So they are slithering out of something they blatantly offered me to become a platinum member. I have been a platinum member for 2 months, I’m leaving. They are rude, curt, and lack empathy. There is no more customer service at American Express. It stinks!

  42. Amex has gone to shit the last 5 years. Been with them since 1995. Just like any outsourced CS they try to pacify and help with very little. Dell went this same route with India and Philippines CS and they went to shit as well.
    There is no longer a person with a brain making decisions, only software and algorithms with Indian CS to back it up.
    My last debacle was a double payment that was made in January. My card was shut down and when I called CS they said I had a returned payment and that was the reason for the card being shut down. I said I paid the bill twice and ask for one of them to be returned. How can that be derogatory? One minute while I check with my supervisor!
    It’s a total shit show at one of America’s late great CC company’s.
    They should call it India Express and be ashamed of what they have done to a once great American enterprise.

  43. Absolutely awful. I use to work in the premium support division of AWS. So I have worked in a large call center, if not the largest. I understand how the process works. First I contacted to them over chat. The first chat agent got disconnected. Might have been my fault not sure. Chatted back in and was told they can’t help me over chat and I need to call in. I just spent an hour and a half on the phone with American express to find out why my credit limit was decreased. I don’t use the card so I did not care about getting it raised back up. Just wanted to know why. I talked to 17 different people, 3 of those were managers. Got hung up on 3 times. 1 of those times was a manager. One of the agents pretended he couldn’t hear me even though he responded to something I said. I was given a “direct” line to the people I needed to talk to. After going through the process of looking up my account with the american express automated system, I got an error that my call couldn’t be completed. I have finally given up. I will be cancelling all my AMEX accounts.

  44. Amex has awful customer service! I called to report a fraudulent transaction that had been declined due to my balance being overlimit. The agent who had a heavy accent failed to see a problem. I tried to explain it 4 or five different ways. The guy was just dense. He told me the charge had been declined so there was nothing to worry about. I still monitor that account daily to make sure I don’t see any more fraudulent transactions. I mean here is a good reason to be overlimit fraudulent charges will get declined. Customer service was non-existent in this situation. I remember a time when I could speak to someone at Amex and be confident they could comprehend what I was saying. The last few times I suspect maybe I need to learn some Hindi to help the conversation. I shouldn’t have to do that from a company that has “American” in its name.

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