Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Remember when AmEx stood for Service?

What you sketch when you are hanging off the phone trying to cancel a card

I've been sobbing with frustration. Two years ago I decided two AmEx cards was excessive and being a much more conservative soul these days decided I was sick of paying fees for a credit card I never use. After a mind numbing hunt on the internet for a contact number to cancel a card I eventually fought my way past the computer generated voices and got a real human being. I sobbed with relief and said 'I'd like to cancel one of my AmEx cards because I never use it.' The nice human being was very disappointed in me and said that the company would prefer to offer me a fee-free year on the card. You never know when you might need the line of credit. I accepted and forgot about it. Two years later the next annual fee for the card was automatically deducted from my bank account. I still had not used the card.

I have since spent another mind numbing hunt on the internet to find a contact number to cancel the card. I've managed to have two conversations with a human being. The first told me they could not accept my cancellation from overseas via a Skype phone call. I would need to call American Express in Australia reverse charges. I couldn't find the Italian phone number to request a reverse charge call - you know how it is when you'd rather be painting.

I eventually made my way through the electronic maze again to another human being - still paying for an international phone call, still waiting on forever for human service. Unfortunately it was Saturday in Australia and the people who have the power to cancel cards do not work on Saturday. I was given a number which I was told was the reverse charge number and told to call back on a week day. I missed a few week day opportunities - you know how it is when you'd rather be painting.

Finally I lined up all the documentation on my desk and dialed the number. I was greeted by a kind electronic voice which lead me through many button pressing options - one of which, blessedly mentioned cancelling a card. As requested I keyed in my 15 digit account number and was told to wait until my account was retrieved - at this point I started sketching the handsome Roman on my credit card. Finally I was told to hang on and I would be connected to an operator. After a few clicks the line started making that ominous beep that sounds like you've been cut off. Then the line sounded live, almost as thought there could be a human being there. I called out for help. The ominous beep returned. This happened several times. At no point did anyone reassure me that I could relax because this was a reverse charge call. After 13 minutes I decided to hang up. I didn't want to have to use my American Express credit card to pay my Italian phone account.

Are you out there American Express? I love my original card - the one I pay the total balance of at the end of every month. I don't use it much these days but it gives me a nice warm feeling and the frequent flyer points are nice to have. What do I do next?!


Edie said...

I love your sketch. I enjoy you work. And you are not alone. My husband has been trying for the last 5 years to get me to cancel my Green American Express card but it's was my first independent card. He calls it "a women thing".

John Salmon said...

Hi Robyn,

In a situation like that I find it best to send a letter. Takes a while longer I know but at least you get the satisfaction knowing that they will need to waste time and do more work at their end to reply.

Hope you get it resolved soon. Sorry.

Elisabeth Braun said...

You cut your card in 2 and send it, recorded delivery, to the Aus AmEx offices, asking for immediate written confirmation of receipt and taking careful copies of everything you send.....

Hope it works out. Customer 'service' centres are notorioiusly unhelpful. And if the bank person refers to me by my first name again.... Grrrrr!!!

PS, Created an account at WetCanvas and have started doing some pastel pencil drawings and a few other pieces. If you have time and interest, you'll find it all on my Sew in Love blog (most of it is in connection with the design elements of my embroidery studies).

Anita said...

Robyn - I sympathise completely. I am convinced that companies involve inhuman voices offering countless options on customer contact numbers so that you give up.

Quilt Knit said...

Dear Robin! I know your pain. The only time you will not have that pain is: When I lost my job. I had the top of the line card and the beginner card. They would not cancel the beginner card after I got the Top card. Well, they must have a HOT HOT line with employers. My Cards were all paid up. The Top card allowed a monthly fee. I went to use the card to get great clothes for my oldest headed to college. I thought it would be fine. Thank God the kids were not with me. I was canceled do to the loss of emplyment. No, one has ever explained that trick to me.
My Heart Aches for you and all that wasted time - trying to get to the customer service agent. I am csa - just not in the money field.


Quilt Knit said...

Hi! Robin: did you go here:
login: with your user id and password?
It states you can manage your cards there.
I am sure you have registered.
I no longer have any of these monsters. On your account you should be able by internet to boot it out of the house.


Anonymous said...

Those automated 'phone voices are a right royal pain in the fundament, aren't they?
My response, also, would be to cut and post the card, recorded delivery (cod, perhaps, to really stick it to them!)to your Australian branch.
Still, you did get sketch out of it.

If you have a minute not being wasted on AMEX would you email me at
about the next sketchbook.

mARTa said...

ah yes, I'd rather be painting.....

Joan said...

Robyn - I'm sorry about your Amex problem, but it sounds so typical of trying to do anything, and doing it internationally is even worse. Good luck!

laureline said...

All I can do is sympathize, dearie. And say how glad I am you sketched and made something good happen in your intense frustration

Anonymous said...

This made me laugh, in a "you have my sympathy" way. Here is New Zealand if you phone the national telephone company to get a number, the call is answered in the Philippines. Lovely friendly people, but with a very different accent to ours. We have lots of towns with similar names and tricky spelling - Paihia, Patea, Paihiatua, Paeroa, Paremata, Paratutu, Parihaka, Paekakariki. Can you begin to imagine the problem? LOL

Quilt Knit said...

All I can say is that writing a physical letter? They never receive them. They are trashed. No, one is responsible. All CSA- customer service agents - based over seas are trained to keep the card active. .
One way to get through the menus- "sometimes" is listen to the menu for choose #1, let the #2 start and press the zero button. 6 out 10 times this takes you to the next available CSA.
Our nightmares continue.

(( Circle of Hugs ))

caseytoussaint said...

Wow - I had a headache by the second paragraph. That situation just sounds so familiar. I was crossing my fingers until the end that there would be a happy ending. sigh.
I love the sketch - and I'm sending you all the positive vibrations I can muster.

Robyn said...

Thanks all for your sympathy and advice. I still haven't got around to cancelling the card. Maybe next year.

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