Amex’s Hamilton Presale Screwup & Hours Long Hold Times for the Platinum Concierge. Is that Acceptable?

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amex concierge hold times

Amex Hamilton Presale

Over the past couple of weeks, American Express teamed up with Ticketmaster and Hamilton to offer presale tickets to Centurion and Platinum cardholders. The first presale was for tickets on Broadway in New York, while the second presale was for performances in Chicago.

Normally with American Express ticket presales you simply need to enter the customer service phone number on the back of your card to gain access. With this sale however they required a unique code. This code could only be obtained by contacting an American Express Concierge. This is where the problems began.

A Good Start But Quickly Downhill

amex concierge hold times

I ended up buying tickets for both sets of performances up to my limit of 4 for each city. To obtain my code for New York, I called very early in the morning the day of the sale. The news of the sale hadn’t widely broken yet and I was connected in a few minutes to a friendly Concierge who was able to generate a code for me to use.

Once the New York presale began, things started going downhill. PDX Deals Guy was trying to get a code and he waited on hold only to be disconnected from the line several times. Others reported being on hold 90-180 minutes just to receive a code. I imagine this was frustrating not only for them, but also for anyone who wanted to reach a Concierge for another reason.

Chicago Was Even Worse

While the New York presale was a bit tedious for many, one would think American Express would fix their system. NOPE! In fact, the Chicago presale was seemingly much busier because news of the sale had become widely known. The presale was yesterday and for much of the weekend I saw people reporting hours long waits to receive their code.

Since I too needed a code, I decided to call the Concierge line at 6am Pacific this past Saturday. You would think that early in the morning on a Saturday wouldn’t be busy, but it did indeed take just over 60 minutes for someone to answer. To me that is bad, but based on the tweets of others, it got worse. Much worse.

Is This A Letdown?

amex concierge hold times

Which brings me to the point of this post. If you are paying a $450 (or higher) annual fee for a card and if that card promises a Concierge service then shouldn’t you expect a reasonable hold time? Why was the Concierge line handling these codes anyway? Couldn’t they have setup a simple website or some other way for cardholders to get their unique code. Amex Offers perhaps?

Earlier this year I condemned what I perceive as a serious slip in customer service at Amex. I think this situation proves it. Perhaps they were taken aback by the New York presale, but they failed to adjust for Chicago, which is unexcusable. Remember, Platinum and Centurion cardholders are their bread and butter and I am sure many were left with a bad taste in their mouth.

Conclusion

I really want to know your opinions. Thankfully I didn’t suffer nearly as bad as most, but forcing cardholders to wait hours to take advantage of a perk of a $450 (or more) annual fee card seems terrible. Did you suffer long hold times to get to the Amex Concierge? Is this a simple mistake that customers should overlook or does this experience change your opinion of Amex and their premium product offerings?

Let us know in the comments!


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30 COMMENTS

  1. My wife and I each have the Citi Prestige Card. Citibank did the exact same thing for their Billy Joel at MSG event. I waited on hold for two hours and four minutes and then was told, sorry, no seats left. Multiple disconnects, etc. What a fiasco! I can’t believe companies think this is a positive experience for their clients.

  2. Got lucky. After being on hold twice for over an hour Sat AM (NYC pre-sale ends Sun AM), I tried again at 2 pm and had no wait! Concierge took care of me over a 20 minute period, ensuring my seats were good (called theater to make sure the side orchestra had no obstructed view). He suggested he do all the work rather than just give maea code and search ticketmaster.
    BTW, when the regular sale opened up, I jumped on ticketmaster but everything was sold out immediately. I’m guessing they really didn’t release ALL the seats for all shows until mid May. That’s how the keep the hype going for this show–“impossible to get tickets.”

  3. I was on hold for 2.5 hours on Saturday afternoon, but was able to purchase tickets on Monday. Now that you mention the annual fee of $450 it does leave a bad taste in my mouth regarding Amex and ridiculously long wait time. But I could argue that because I am Amex Platinum, I was allowed to the early sale while the general public was not. I wonder if there will be a good selection of seats available to the general public.

  4. I was in NYC last week and saw a blog post and immediately called the concierge desk. It took about an hour and finally got through. I bought 4 tickets for Easter weekend in NYC and could have bought 4 more using a different platinum card (my entire row was open the ). I was happy to get the tickets. No matter how many staff Amex added they wait will be long because so many people want those tickets!

  5. Probably due to people ordering multiple batches of tickets to resell. Sounds like you may be in this camp…why else would you order 4 sets of tickets for both the NYC and Chicago shows?

      • Because it means you didn’t “suffer” at all, and your trumped up indignation that AmEx didn’t bend over backwards to help you scalp theater tickets is absurd. You’re going to leave AmEx because you had to wait on hold for awhile in an effort to profit several thousand dollars? Riiight. But more to the point, there were at least two other options that did not entail lengthy hold times at all…

        • Where did I say I suffered? In fact, I made it clear that I had it quite good compared to some and was just pointing out that many others didn’t have it nearly as nice. It was a question designed to start a discussion.

          Also, Amex CS had long hold times as well and there was no way to get an email code. They were sent out to a very small group of cardholders and if they didn’t send you one then you had to call in. Thanks for commenting Bill. Have a happy and wonderful evening.

  6. “This code could only be obtained by contacting an American Express Concierge. ”

    What? They emailed out codes to some of us. Maybe it’s only a “screwup” because some bloggers publicized this as a resale opportunity and thousands of sheep…readers pounced on it. Which, I mean, that’s fine. But my guess is that this was only supposed to go to set of cardholders — perhaps those who live in one of the markets– but it blew up.

    • Yes some bloggers wrote about selling the tickets and perhaps that caused huge demand, but this show has been huge which is why they went to the unique code in the first place. They have presales all of the time without this issue since you only need the CS phone number to purchase.

      You are correct that they did email codes to some and perhaps I should have explained that better. For those who didn’t receive a code, there was no way to get one other than to call in. That was my point. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  7. The concierge is a joke. They are two call centers ,one in Boston and one in Canada.

    Call them and ask them to suggest a restaurant, then check open table.. They use open table to recommend restaurants and tell you whats available. WHAT A JOKE.

    I am sorry for anyone who relies on these people to to ANYTHING.

  8. I received a code in my email for the presale. I’m wondering how many people had the code and didn’t see the email.

      • I got an email code and was able to order tickets on-line at 10 AM Eastern time. My first choice fell through, but then I got my second choice. The web site was slow. But I had my confirmation in 15 minutes. I got two tickets for a Saturday in March, first balcony, third row in NYC. I’m glad I didn’t buy extra tickets since Miranda announced the next day he is leaving the show. I don’t think they will sell for the crazy prices they are now without him.

        • I agree that prices will soften a bit, but I think they will still be strong. Of course getting to see it yourself is the best prize! Navigating Ticketmaster during a huge sale is hard, given the competition.

  9. I received an email with my code. I called at 10:00 a.m. Monday and at 10:10 I had my 4 tickets. I chose a Friday evening, I also chose “best available” seats after reading a blog post that people kept loosing their seats trying to get certain dates and certain seats. I am not a reseller, so I purchased for myself and my family. This could not have gone smoother. Thank you Amex Platinum.

  10. The other point of comparison is the Geriatric Cochella Festival that is happening in Southern California in October. I was on the phone on hold for 4 hours just to be told that it was sold out even though I was in line the first second that I could be in line. For Chicago Hamilton I waited 2+ hours on the phone while I walked with my wife, went to coffee… I got 4 great tickets when I signed on the next day. With the professional scalpers, high speed computers, etc., it is getting impossible to get great tickets at face value to a popular venue without knowing someone… Unless you have a Platinum or other card that gives you pre-sale options. It is far from ideal but better than most alternatives out there. If anyone has sound legal ways to get good tickets to popular events I would love to hear them. If Shawn wants to buy 4 tickets and sell some or all of them for what the market will tolerate then I have no issues with that, nor should anyone else.

  11. Everyone I know that has a plat card got the code via email, which is about 25-30 people. I actually would have missed the email and likely deleted it, had it not been for a co-worker that told me about it. As far as I know, 10 or so including myself went on at 10am and bought tickets. I don’t think anyone is reselling.

    • Interesting. I wonder if it was regional. Either way there were enough people who didn’t receive a code that it caused problems. Perhaps they will send out codes to everyone proactively before the next big presale. Congrats on getting the tickets!

  12. What is your general resale strategy for these tickets?
    a) Ticketmaster, Stubhub, other?
    b) What is timing to resell? One month before show time?

    If anyone has advice or a link somewhere, it will be greatly appreciated.

    • I only started reselling tickets in the last year after originally just trying to generate some credit card spend/miles and noticing I was pulling a decent profit on top of it for the minimal time invested. Almost everything I learned has been trial and error by myself. Brokers are very tight lipped and I can’t blame then. Who wants to kill their golden goose? In addition, I haven’t found an active online forum or groups like you can do with MS. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough who knows…

      I will say this… put your tickets on as many marketplaces as possible to increase exposure. The majority of my sales come from StubHub but it doesn’t cost to simply list them on the others. You have to be careful though and check the penalty if say the tickets sold on one marketplace before another and you had to decline an order. This is a rare circumstance but can arise and penalties for not fulfilling an order are steep.

      I have no idea about Broadway and therefore didn’t invest in Hamilton myself but just because there is high demand doesn’t equal easy profit. Everyone can be a broker these days online with minimal effort and you are competing against the masses. We as the average Joe are also at an inconvenience against the big guys using bots, scripts, etc. You must be confident in the seats you pull but also take into account location, ticket price, venue price, etc. For example, I had 12th row Beyonce seats in Nashville. You would think easy profit right being one of the biggest superstars in the world? I couldn’t sell them at face. Luckily the show got postponed allowing a refund or I would’ve ate a $375 ticket. These 2 tickets had I had to eat them could have at into a good amount of my profits. I lucked out. So to my second point, make sure you understand you are investing in something worth nothing the day after the event and don’t be too greedy when selling.

      Best of luck.

      • Please excuse the above spelling mistakes. I was reply quickly as I was trying to meet an 11PM deadline for work. I wanted to add that most tickets sales tend to happen immediately after the onsale (as the event is fresh on peoples mind/mad they didn’t get the seats they want) and than again 30 days before events (as people start to make plans).

  13. Word is that the ticket prices for Hamilton will be going up, sometime in the fall. The good news is those behind the play, want to increase the number of cheap tickets for high school age goers.

  14. After reading your post it made me decide to call in to express my displeasure about the whole situation. They gave me a $100 statement credit after I said cancel the platinum card. (my annual fee just hit).

  15. I found this post this morning while searching for comments from other Platinum holders who are as frustrated as I am. I got a code yesterday morning for the LA Hamilton presale which began at 10am April 19. I had 4 tickets in my Ticketmaster basket and when I hit the purchase button, the system said I was a robot. They had already confirmed I was not a robot before I was able to add the tickets to my basket. I lost the tickets. I called Amex and my calls were dropped at least 4 times. I later sat on hold for 4 hours (yes, 4 hours and I have the screen shots to prove it) and had to finally hang up. This is unacceptable for Amex and I hope others will join me in expressing their outrage at this lack of customer service. They should have planned for this onslaught of calls, particularly since they had the experience with NY and Chicago shows.

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