American Express, I am Disappointed!

It has been more than two months since I last called American Express about the unauthorized charges on my AMEX Costco TrueEarnings card and longer than the 8-week investigation period that I was promised. I was hoping the outcome of the investigation could resolve the problem which has been dragging on for nearly 8 months.

As I was waiting the result patiently, a letter from American Express arrived last Saturday. Enclosed in the letter is a transaction confirmation (the support) from the Netherlands company that handles the transactions on my card. And the letter also says:

As you will see, your name is not reflected on the support. Since many of our customers authorize charges on their Card for goods and services rendered to others, we are providing you with an opportunity to review the support. If you do not recognize the name, please contact us at your convenience. We believe that you are the best authority on the validity of this charge, and therefore, we ask you please review the documentation. If you are not satisfied that it is sufficient, or have additional concerns, please contact us and we will be glad to reopen your inquiry.

Did it say the case is closed and I should to be satisfied with their findings from the two-month investigation?

After finishing the letter, I called AMEX and asked to spoke with a manager once my call was answered. I am sick of having to tell the CSR my story each and very time I call, so I want to go directly to the one in charge. When the manager, who gave me his name as Jerry, came to the line, I told him that if that piece of paper is the result of their two-month investigation, then they are wasting their time because I printed out exactly the same confirmation back in February myself after I used my card number to locate the transaction details from the payment processing company’s website in Netherlands. The only difference was that that guy, who used my card to purchase a monthly pass since last November, just bought two 1-year passes at $154 each! I told Jerry if this is all they have done, then I don’t need them to print out a confirmation for me.

What made me angry was what Jerry said after he asked me if I recognized these charges and I told him that I made it very clear when I first called in February that I didn’t know what those charges were and never authorized them.

“Then we will have to open a fraud investigation.”

Yes, that’s what he said, a fraud investigation! If an unauthorized charge isn’t a fraud, tell me what it is?

Jerry didn’t answer my question. Instead he kept asking me whether I want to proceed with the fraud investigation or not.

[youtube 6zhiGY19hyc]

(Or is it?)

Do whatever investigation you want to do, but make the charge stop.

“We can issue you a new card with a different account number and the charge won’t appear on your new card again.”

What a surprise. The first thing I asked in February was to get a new account number and I had been told more than once by both CSR and manager that a new account number won’t stop the recurring charges and I believed in what I heard. Now, all of a sudden, I can indeed get a new card to stop the charge!

Unbelievable!!!

I will have a new card in 10 days and to wait another 30 days for the outcomes of this fraud investigation, if there’s anything meaningful. The problem to me is I probably won’t know whether the issue is resolved or not until next July when the 1-year pass is up for renewal. I didn’t get any charge on my card after the $154 purchase in July.

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This post was written by Sun You can find out more about Sun and his activities on Facebook , or follow him on Twitter .

15 Responses to “American Express, I am Disappointed!”

  1. RV |  Oct 15, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Sun:

    I am sorry to hear what you had to go through. Yes, I think it is a good idea to get a new account number and also open up the fraud investigation.

    I wish you the best and I sicerely hope the issue will be resolved as quickly as possible and you don’t see any charges on the new account.

    RV

  2. Yifan |  Oct 15, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    I hate this kind of customer service system too. I have to explain the situation every time I call and to every person. They act like knowing nothing about previous report. So frustrating.
    But also, don’t let their stupidity ruin your mood :)
    good luck

  3. Patrick |  Oct 15, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Ugghhhh. This sounds like horrible customer service. Dealing with customer service reps can be extremely frustrating – especially when they give you differnet answers. I hope they resolve this situation for you so you don’t have to keep wasting your time due to their inefficiencies. Good luck.

  4. Matthew |  Oct 15, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Sorry to hear about your troubles with AMEX. For the most part I think their customer service is pretty good. This past February I got a call about some unauthorized charge to my account, and they immediately closed that card and sent me a new one with a different account number. I never even saw the fraudulent charge appear on my account statement online or in print.

    The most important lesson I’ve learned from calling customer care, anyone’s customer care, is to call back at least once to verify information. For serious things, probably three to five times is a good rule of thumb.

  5. Tim |  Oct 16, 2007 at 5:13 am

    This is why I won’t ever get another AMEX card again. I had wondered from the first time I read your blog on this subject, why AMEX didn’t close the account and just issue you another credit card number immediately. This is standard for other credit card companies and the excuses AMEX gave that you posted simply didn’t jive. Hopefully this will work out. Even when they close the account and issue a new number, you are still going to have to monitor the old one for several months until everything clears out right. You may get two bills (one for each), too.

  6. Jonathan C |  Oct 16, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Sun,

    Yeah, this is pretty typical of credit card company customer service. I have similarly disappointing stories with BofA and Citi. The thing I have learned from experience is, if you don’t get what you want, just keep moving up the ladder, from CSR to account manager, etc.

    I think the system is intentionally flawed to keep people who are anything less than driven from getting the kind of service they need.

  7. Yan |  Oct 16, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    What an exciting story. Wait for July and you could have a book published out of this. :-)

    Seriously though, I will join one of earlier comments, follow up on the issue in a day or two if you think it is important. Corporate customer support is a mess!

  8. Jonathan |  Oct 17, 2007 at 6:32 am

    Isn’t American Express the one who just showed all those commercials with John McEnroe during the US Open stating that disputes were super-easy with them? Yeesh.

    I found it on Youtube:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=6zhiGY19hyc

  9. mapgirl |  Oct 17, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Hm. Weird. I’ve always had great service from AMEX since I was in college nigh over a decade now.

    Sorry to hear it’s been a pain in the neck. I’d be careful though since AMEX did a spot-on job replacing a lost card for me in Brussels many years ago when I was traveling. I am not sure another card service would be so expedient. (And I hope I never have to find out.)

  10. Chief Family Officer |  Oct 18, 2007 at 12:02 am

    You’re right, this isn’t a pleasant story, and I’m very sorry you’re having to go through this experience. Thanks for the cautionary tale, though.

  11. Sun |  Oct 18, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Well, they did refund me immediately every time I called them or put the charge on hold during their investigation. The disputes seem easy, resolving the problem isn’t and that’s what bothers me.

  12. plonkee |  Oct 18, 2007 at 7:40 am

    I can’t believe that this is still going on. Its certainly put me off using Amex for anything. Hopefully it’ll be resolved with a new account number.

  13. shadox |  Oct 20, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Here’s a thought: vote with your business. Close the account.

    I have been reading about your misadventures with AmEx for quite some time now, and I think there is only one solution for such lousy customer service: going somewhere else.

  14. Hampton Court Designs |  Nov 02, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    American Express is a law unto itself. Investigations are like secret tribunals and not at all fair. They will tell you to check your account online to see the judgement late on Friday afternoon, change your password, and then you will be completely confused by what they are saying. You should then expect them to suddenly take money out of your account early on Monday morning. I would like to hear from other companies that this has happened to. It is not worth accepting American Express.

  15. Joana |  Nov 11, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    Hello,I have been in dispute with American Express investigative department for 2 years. During this time
    States Attorney Office and BBB open strong litigation against the merchant in question,but for AMX these two institutions are not legit enough to be considerd, as my evidence to show cause for the merchent to return money to me.We are speaking abot thousands of dollars. Noone even will tell you who to call and complaint because it is a top secret and AMX ” will not disclouse this information”.Well, I hope that someone can do somthing about AMX investgative reporting process because in my opinion AMX investigative team need to be investigated ASP .