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I mentioned in this post an American Express Gold card that I had helped my mom apply for a couple weeks ago. The card came in the mail this week and I wrote them via their secure message center to verify she would indeed receive the 50,000 Membership Rewards points (aka good-as-gold-wonderful points) that she was entitled to via the offer she applied under. I expected it to be a bit of a “negotiation” since it turns out this offer was supposed to be targeted to Columbia MBA Grads. My mom is a rock star, but not a Columbia MBA recent grad. 🙂 Anyway, nowhere on the application or terms and conditions were there any MBA stipulations. I learned about that little tidbit via Flyertalk. As always, I took screen shots of every page of the offer and application and saved them “just in case”. This is a good idea to do whenever you are applying for various credit card offers…..just in case. There are almost always multiple offers for the same credit card going at a time, so if you do very many applications it really is just a matter of time before there will be some discrepancy between the offer you applied for and the offer the credit card company is trying to credit you with.
Anyway, I was repeatedly shot down this weekend via secure message when I tried to ensure that AMEX would honor the offer she applied for. They were insisting she would only be credited 10,000 Membership Rewards points instead of the 50K she was entitled to. After 3 rounds of back and forth messaging I called AMEX customer service. First, I got hung-up on from the Membership Rewards department. I have a strong hunch it was a hang-up and not a disconnect as it turns out it was 1 minute until their closing time. Boo hiss on them! I then finally got through to a great (American) phone rep via their regular customer service center line. I really don’t think I was getting American Express Customer service via their email system over the weekend. Not trying to be American-centric here, but in this case it did seem to make a difference. Anyway, the phone rep indicated that my mom’s account had already been notated to receive the 50,000 points. They indicated it will require another call on our part after the $500 minimum spend requirement is met, but that the account has been notated to receive the additional 40,000 points manually at that time.
The phone rep didn’t have any idea why I would have received email messages saying the promotion would not be honored as the account was clearly marked. He (unfortunately) didn’t have the ability to verify what he was telling me in writing, but assured me that it was clearly marked and gave me his name, callerID number, and call center location. He said we can call him back specifically, if needed. Hallelujah, because I was about to begin scheming not-nice ways to slowly torture AMEX Big Wigs using only the useless Gold Card they had sent. Kidding……mostly. 🙂
This story should have a just and happy ending for my mom and her Membership Rewards points. The first moral is to try and stick to offers that are clearly targeted for specific demographics that you fit in to. Though, in this case, that was really not specifically spelled out in the Terms and Conditions. Second moral is to be persistent. Earning “free” points is not always for the faint of heart. Third, always save screen shots of your offers and applications. And finally, if it ain’t going well with the customer service agent you are trying to work with, just hang up/back away from the keyboard and try a different one. Chant with me, U.S.A, U.S.A, U.S.A!!!