Saturday, August 25, 2007

While We Are Holding You Hostage...

It was only a couple of days ago when I wrote about American Express' dim-witted security policy with respect to their credit cards. Yesterday I received my replacement AmEx card in the mail and got another dose of lousy customer service from that company.

As with any other credit card, when the AmEx card arrives via mail it requires activation over the phone. When I called to activate my card I was asked to enter my card number at which point I got something similar to the following message: "Thank you for choosing American Express, while your card is being activated let us tell you about the following great offer..." This was followed by an approximately one minute inane commercial for the company's credit protection services. The thing that really gets my goat is that I know that this is an unnecessary delay - the actual activation of the card takes a second or two, if that. It is a simple database query. The use of the phrase "while your card is being activated" is contrived, and should be replaced by something like "While we are holding you hostage..."

I find this method of delivering a marketing message to be rude and obnoxious. I felt like AmEx was holding me hostage to their marketing message. Would my card be activated if I simply hung up the phone? After I made the call, I remembered that I ran into similar practices with Citibank when I activated my card with them. However, if I remember correctly, when I turned down Citibank's terrible offer (by pressing the appropriate key on my phone), I got something like "Are you sure that you want to decline this offer", followed by another 20 seconds of marketing drivel. At least AmEx did not sink to that low.

I don't care if those companies are advertising free money, whatever it is that they are selling, I am not buying. Companies must be made to understand that if they treat their customers like their property, try to force feed us their marketing messages or simply give us lousy service, we will retaliate against them by using our economic power.

In the course of the simple transaction of transitioning me from an expired card to a new one, AmEx has managed to turn me from a very happy long time customer, into an unhappy customer who writes blog entries about their unsatisfactory level of service. I am not sure that this is the outcome that they were going for.

1 comment:

Armchair Fiduciary said...

I totally agree that these credit card companies generally have horrible customer service. It never rang more true then when I recently found a wallet in my front yard. Wells Fargo had no interest in helping me find the owner.