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.
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.
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.
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?