American Express retention offer: Goof-up series!

To say that I have good experiences with American Express is a bittersweet story. Over the years, I’ve had both good and bad stories with them. I’ve held the American Express Kingfisher Platinum Card back in the day, which automatically converted into the Platinum Travel card without my knowledge. I’ve been holding the American Express Jet Airways credit card for long. In terms of charge cards, I did not have a great experience with the Platinum Charge Card. Last year, I took the Gold Charge Card the second time around.

American Express Gold Charge Card

Reasoning for the card to be taken the second time? It was free of cost for year one, and there are a 1,000 Membership Rewards bonus if you use the card four times a month. Also, with the card being free of all limits, it was a good backup plan for everything else.

However, the service has been not so great as I’ve expected of the American Express standard. Bills wouldn’t come in on time, queries would go around in loops and promotions such as the free movie tickets every month won’t come in on time so you’d have to follow up.

So, this year, when the card came up for renewal, I started having second thoughts and almost decided to cancel the card. The card fees is INR 4,500 per annum plus taxes, so not easy money if all you get is some lousy MR in return. I called in, and I was answered by a clueless agent. She told me that if I’d stick around with American Express on the card, she would be able to offer me a 25% discount on the fees, and throw in 5000 MR to hold me back.

Sounds good right? Except, she went on to tantalize me. She said if I accumulated 24,000 MR, I’d automatically get a statement credit of INR 10,000.

The Misselling

Here is where it all stopped being fun. I asked for the offer in writing, I did not get it. I was told it was a special offer they were making to me, and they would call back to confirm. I went back and checked. I was anyways supposed to get 5,000 MR on payment of renewal fees. The INR 10K statement credit for 24K MR is their standard award as a part of the Gold Collection. Except, they redeem the MR and not just give you the 10000 MR.

I was furious and I asked for an investigation. Further people have been calling me up for the past 2 weeks or so, except they’d make one ring and disconnect. Then I’d get an email that stated to the effect that they called me but I did not pick the phone, so they’d like to hear when they could talk to me. I would give them a time, but I’d never get a call at that time. Over a period of time, they accepted their mistake, and offered to make good the 5000 MR over and above the one I was anyways supposed to get.

Amex also offered to waive the entire fee if I spent INR 60K on the card. Umm… I sure have better cards to spend INR 60,000 on.

The Retention Unit calls

I eventually asked for this person to escalate me to the Executive Office of Amex which deals with such troubled child of problems which get messed up over a period of time. I was told it would take 4 working days to hear from them. I told them I had no time for it. So, eventually someone called without hearing the tapes of the recorded conversation. Offered me the peace pipe, but essentially the same offer. No one wanted to explain why the Retention Unit calls when I asked for the Executive Office. I asked to write her proposition on email, but the email never came. This became the usual standard with Amex where they’d send me stray emails asking for the time to call, but never send me an email with the resolutions.

The Executive Office throws in another 5K MR

Here is the final call I had with the Executive Office on Saturday. Apparently they don’t work on Saturdays, but hey, they miraculously decided to work on Saturdays when I told them I won’t be able to take their calls this week.

Yet again, the person on the line was selectively briefed. The person apologized, but did not want to honour the 10K INR reimbursement on 24K MR points. Threw the kid on the line on the first call under the bus. Told me action would be taken, but we can’t do something to keep our word to you.

However, she could give me another 5K MR, and then I’d have 15K MR more on paying this reduced fee of 75%. I don’t even know what to do with MR these days given their stingy valuations in India.

Bottomline

No bottomline really. I’m wondering if I should pay the fee and keep the card, or just cancel it and move on. Stupid customer service from American Express so far, and more questions than answers. What have been your experiences with American Express recently in India?

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Comments

  1. Well for me in terms of customer service Amex has just proved to be the best.
    I have 2 Amex cards (Gold Charge and Platinum Travel).
    They do charge a hefty annual fee but for me 2nd year onward it was waived off, however i did not got any renewal MR points. Yes they did goofed up a bit on BookMyShow offer where they did not send me the code but a single call did the work and I got the coupons very next hour.
    I can hold onto the Amex cards just because of the excellent customer service they offer, each of the executive I had word with were extremely knowledgeable, however the same cannot be said about the salesperson they keep, most of the time they try to mislead you. Their MR points are just decent nothing exemplary there.
    Another thing in which Amex has upper hand is fraud protection, Amex beats all Indian banks hands down (IMO) in this segment, being the acquirer/issuer at the same time do help them a lot.
    for me Citibank comes second, SBI is ok. HDFC and ICICI are the worst in terms of customer service, they literally have no clue what is there job plus they will hang up your call once you start getting on their nerves.

  2. My experience with them has been a mixed bag… I hold a Platinum Charge Card from Amex…this card comes loaded with features…I would recommend this to anyone who wants features over points, its not the best for points as there aren’t any bonus points per month or on signup/renewal..
    As far as their service goes, I would rate them as following

    1. Travel desk 6/10: You will have to tell them what feature/rates you want..usually they are not aware of their own offers. They have Jet as their partner so . you will get some additional features/rates when booking with amex..
    2. Concierge: 8/10: They are the most helpful of the lot, book a table with them and most likely they will throw a bottle of wine or desert complimentary. I have had good strike rate with them otherwise as well…
    3. Card/Account Services: 5/10.. some of them are real clueless about features of the card so it takes lot of time to explain..

    However, I will still recommend amex to someone who is looking for lot of features from a charge card…

    • Hey Heynow,
      HI

      I am planning to take this card as well, could you let me know the overall rating you will give to this card and also , whether your annual fees from 2nd year onwards have been waived off or not.

      • Hi Rahul,

        This is my first year for which I got 40K Taj Vouchers, I would rate it 8/10..My card is plat charge card….No discount on any year… it will be 50K yearly fee..

  3. Getting a mail that they were trying to call you and you were not reachable has become a standard practise at Amex. I hate it even more when the agents will be over friendly in their talks but when it comes to any resolutions… They are just clueless.

  4. Use the amex plat reserve. Amex seems to be doing a lot of this recently . Had some unauthorised charges made by them in the month of May. The agent on the phone tells me that it’s reversed and yet, it still appears on my statement with a finance charge on those “reversed” charges. Calls are made back and forth with them not meeting a single deadline. Sorted out the issue in July finally after agreeing to pay up on my own to close the matter. Surprisingly, they have tapes of all conversations except the one of the agent who reversed my charges. Due to a system error it wasn’t retrievable. Convenient I must say!

  5. In my experience, like many others here, Amex has been the best. Worst was IndusInd bank.

    I was actually surprised to read this as the only reason I have that gold card and jet amex is their service.

    Maybe you should give them a second chance, imo 🙂

  6. All the time I called AMEX, I had very good experience. They are way too good. I hold gold and Jet Amex Platinum card. Their service is excellent every time I called them.

  7. Hello AJ,

    I have an amercian express gold card and their redemption catalogue states that we can opt for redemption of rs 10000 for points worth 24K.

    Regards
    Vinay

  8. AMEX is the best card and also it provides the best service one can think of. It is the “Mercedes” amongst all the cards . The telephone executives are the best and one has to punch in the least number of keys to get through the executive. Also they are the most courteous amongst all. Cant think of any other card than AMEX. These days their acceptability is increasing by the day as now they have tied up with SBI for all the business points. Nothing can beat AMEX

  9. All these reviews are confusing me. I recently took the AmEx Platinum Reserve Card costing 5k plus taxes a year. MR of 11k will be the joining bonus they say..I am yet to receive any action on that. They had also falsely claimed that Access to Domestic Airport lounges would be free for the first 12 visits and then would be chargeable. Then, after reading the fine print, I realised that that they were talking about only the AmEx lounges in Mumbai and Delhi. Now I am very confused, I don’t want it to be a liability. But, the very purpose of me taking a credit card was for the lounge benefit that was offered. 🙁

  10. This happen to me also for platinum travel card.
    They asked me to give4 standing instruction for autopay to get membership fees reversed. I gave them 4 insurance accounts and none of them are supported by them.
    So they offered 50 % discount on fees.

    During this process I also receive message saying that they tried to call be but they never did.

    Finally called them to cancel card and at final step they said that if I spend 60k in 90 days they’ll reverse the fees.

  11. I too had horrible experience with AMEX last year, where they started sending USED BookmyShow vouchers for the Movie offer they were running. It happened to me multiple times. Even after escalating it to the highest levels, the replacement vouchers shared were already used. Tickets were mostly booked in Gurgaon cinemas (I confirmed this from BMS). Once the free voucher shared was already used by myself a year back. So much of miss-management and fooling around with the customer offer. It was all settled for 5k MR.

    Its been more than 3 months and my Amex Jet renewal benefits are still due, even after multiple follow-ups.

  12. @AJ,
    I don’t know why, but I have never faced anything as such with AMEX. You can expect this with Citi, Standard Chartered,etc but NOT AMEX. Though their products are bad, I have kept the Platinum Travel where I spend 4L over the period of 12 months. All I do is call them thrice a year, 2wice for redemptions and once for a fee reversal which is done without any fuss. I did hold the Platinum Charge but since it wasn’t worth the price, I got it cancelled within a month and received the complete fee refund.

    • They just reverse you the annual fees when you call them? How come? If it was that easy then Ajay wouldn’t have this experience at all. In this whole post, I saw the amount of reluctance they have.
      I got a call 2 months back from an AMEX guy. I don’t know how on earth they managed to get my number because I never applied for any card. They offered me the Charge card as well as Platinum Travel Card. I insisted that until they offer me a free card, I will not like to use them. That my current card issuers Citibank and HDFC both have provided me a Life time Free cards so it makes little sense to get an AMEX for such high annual fees. But they were adamant about the fees. They said after 1st year I can call them and ask them to refund the fees for the next year and they might consider that. I told them I need that in writing to which he declined.
      Then I told them that if they accept my proposal of giving me a free card I’ll consider, else not to waste my time.
      Never heard from them ever again and I’m really happy about the fact that they didn’t bother me ever again.

  13. I have held two types of AMEX platinum cards including the Jet Airways co-branded one. One problem is the reluctance of many merchants to accept the card and other is the relatively high fee which does not seem to match the returns. In the beginning their lounges at airports offered exclusivity but soon the became overcrowded. The range of offerings was also much smaller and inferior to premium plaza lounge.

    AMEX tried to sell a dream ,but I guess most people finally woke up .

    So my take is that it is not worth holding this card in today’s competitive card market.

  14. I have asked for full waiver of fees… and have got it… The only advanatge is 1000 MR on 4 spends of Rs.1000/- ..It does not make sense to spend 4500.00 for this card.. i think..

    • Sunil,
      This is for the first year or you were able to get the renewal fees reversed?
      If renewal, could you please share approx. how much you spent on the card?

      i have a goldcard and looking to continue only if fees are waived off. My spends are approx. 1L in the year.

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