Friday 22 February 2013

American not-so-Express

So I got a new American Express card a month or so ago. One of those British Airways ones that collects avios points as you spend.

They had this offer where you get 9000 bonus avios if you spend £1000 on the card.

So I proceeded to spend on it the way I do on my Nationwide card and they block me suspecting fraud.

On my Nationwide card (which incidentally has double the limit of the AmEx and is accepted in more locations) they phone me within a couple of minutes if they block a transaction.

Does that happen with AmEx? Nope. Nothing... you get told you have to call the number on the back of the card, and after calling it and pressing 50 buttons to get to the department that isn't automated and has a person on the end of the line, you get told the card is blocked, they can't access the system to even register a complaint, and all they can do is suggest you call tomorrow and note that you called and request a call back from the department who blocked it.

So I called the next day, only to be told that their fraud prevention mechanism is this:

1. They suspect identity theft on your account and block your account without trying to contact you.
2. They wait for you to contact them after you've been embarassed wherever you're paying for goods or services.
3. They tell you there's nothing you can do.
4. You call back the next day and they tell you they will try to call you back on your phone number that they will have verified using some secret verification process and if they can't verify your phone or get through to you they will send you a letter by post with a reference number on it.
5. I point out that if they suspect identity theft, surely sending a letter to the same address that the supposed identity thief got the card from is a pointless exercise because the would-be thief would just get the reference number as well.
6. They kind of agree but you can tell they aren't allowed to say they do.
7. Instead of getting a call or a letter, they email me with the reference number. I actually prefer this method, but it's not what they said they would do.
8. I call up and go through the security which amounts to nothing more than them just noting the reference and telling me it will be unlocked shortly.
9. They tell me they are unable to take my complaint and I should speak to customer services.

This is after the following other stupid problems:

1. When you sign up for an account, they insist you have a number in your USERNAME. WTF? Who insists on a number in the username? Are they on crack?
2. When I tried to change my PIN, the cash machine told me it had failed. I called them and they said they found a problem, and I should try again. I tried again and it gave me a different error. Magically the new pin was the one that showed on the website but actually using the card required the old PIN. That's sounds like a fail of security (again) to me.
3. The paywave function didn't work on the card. Ever. So they had to send me a new card, within a month of getting the card in the first place.

I've never had to make so many phone calls to a single organisation before.

Should have applied for the platinum card. Maybe then I'd have had better service...

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