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I’m sure most of you Membership Rewards fans are familiar with the ongoing saga to get American Express to honor the notations made on many of our accounts back in August during what I like to call the “48 Hour Bonus Codeathon”. If you don’t know what I am talking about, consider yourself lucky. 🙂 Essentially American Express was telling everyone and their dog that they were eligible for all sorts of bonus codes for about a 48 hour period in August. Shortly thereafter the iron curtain fell, and it is now extremely difficult/impossible to have American Express honor a promotion for you unless you specifically were mailed that promotion. That’s fair enough going forward, but there are still many of us who were told we were eligible for certain promotions back in August before that policy change. Many of us acted accordingly by meeting a minimum spending requirement, making a certain number of purchases each month, or in my case paying $175 to add three authorized users to my Platinum card. The promotion I was told that I was eligible for involved getting 10,000 Membership Reward points for each authorized user that I added to my account. I was supposed to receive the bonus points 6-8 weeks after a purchase was made with each of the new cards.
Fast forward six weeks and I was told by secure message and over the phone by a Membership Rewards supervisor that since I was not a targeted person for that promotion (turns out it was just targeted for some card members in Argentina), they would not be honoring the promotion even though they had originally told me that I was eligible. I then called the American Express Executive Offices and spoke to a seemingly helpful man who said that they had recently changed their policies about bonus codes, but that they would be honoring all promises that they had made before that change. He said my case would be sent to a team who would review the information and they would make good on the promises they had made. I was happy with that. I am 100% certain that the recordings of the call would indicate I was told my account was eligible and based on what the Executive Offices told me, I was pretty confident that once they listened to the recording they would honor the promotion. Why else would they be investigating??
Fast forward some more to yesterday when I receive a form letter in the mail that says “we do not have a record of this offer being sent to you as it was targeted to Latin America accounts only. Therefore, we are unable to honor your request to receive bonus points for this promotion.” Really?! You took a month to tell me that this promotion was targeted to Latin American customers? I have already learned that fact – my issue was that I was told I would get the points, so I spent money to add authorized users based on that promise. There is nothing in the letter that indicates they even listened to the records of the call.
I have left a message with the Executive Offices to call me back. I think I am most frustrated that despite assurances that they would make good on their promises, it seems they didn’t even look into what promises were made. It feels like just a repeat of when I got the bonus code added to begin with. I am told one thing very clearly on the phone, and then another thing happens. (This kind of reminds me of “Peggy” from the Capital One commercials!) I highly doubt the Executive Offices will call me back. I had left a message for them a couple weeks ago to check on the status of the case and never heard back at that point either. If they weren’t going to honor these codes at all, I wish the Executive Office would have just come right out and said that. Don’t pretend to send it to an investigative team if they aren’t really investigating what transpired. I’m a grown-up, just give me a straight answer. Don’t mail me some form letter that doesn’t address why the investigation was opened in the first place.
I understand 100% that people and companies make mistakes. I personally believe that when that happens, the best course of action is to honor your promises, even if they were made in error. However, if that is absolutely impossible then be straight about that and at least come up with a fair compromise. While I would have been a little disappointed, I would not be upset if they would have said they can’t honor this promotion since it wasn’t meant for me, but they will refund the money I spent to add the authorized users since that money would not have been spent if I had not been told I qualified for the promotion. I’m not the “lawyer-y” type, but there has to be something legally wrong with this scenario. Even if there is nothing legally wrong, it just isn’t the right thing to do.
I have written a letter to mail in to their Membership Reward offices. In that letter I have outlined my disappointment with how this was handled, and requested that either the promotion be honored or the money I spent to participate in the promotion be refunded. I have little hope that anything will come of mailing that letter – heck, nothing has come out of any of my efforts to reach out to Amex thus far! But, at least I know I did all I could. For my middle-class family, $175 is a lot of money to have spent based on false promises. I like Amex, but they didn’t do right by their customers with this one. I am by no means a unique case. From keeping up with this thread on Flyertalk, it looks like others are receiving the same response as me. Some people who were trying to “bump” their initial sign-up bonus are having some better success at having those codes honored, so don’t give up hope entirely, but I would say it looks pretty bleak for those who are in situations similar to mine.
I’ll let you know if I do get any further response from Amex, but it looks like this one is going down in the Big Fail category. Perhaps we should have an award for the Biggest Point Fail of 2011. Ha ha. To end on a positive note though, most miles and points promotions do have a happy ending, and I know my family has done very well overall this year with our “point collecting”. You can’t win them all…….but I still want my $175 back.