My Adventures in Having my Amex Bonus Code Honored: Part 2

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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. 

 

Comments

  1. I had high expectations from AmEx from all the rave reviews I have read. But they failed me from the start when I became a member a few month ago. I needed to top off my Continental miles so I requested an advance via sescured message. They said they could advance 15,000 points, I told them go ahead. They responded again with “sorry we can’t do that for new member” after approving it in writing. I am not surprise by this recent promo code fiasco. You bet I will be closing my account when my annual fee is due.

  2. I added several new AU’s after getting the code put on my accounts (personal and biz). They hit me with a financial review for having so many. But they still gave me the 110K points for the promo (which I converted to DL miles with the 50% bonus immediately). Then I closed all my cards since annual fees were coming up.

    I wasn’t targeted for the promo either.

    In one phrase: YMMV

    • I was hit with a financial review too. I added 8 users and having 9 cards with no pre set spending limit (on my modest income) worried them. I’m still waiting on their decision but will resume fighting once I am in the clear (fingers crossed.)

  3. AMEX typically prorates annual fees when you close accounts. I suggest you close your account and/or the additional users and request a full refund.

  4. My situation mirrors yours in that multiple MR representatives stated my accounts were eligible for the AU bonuses which were added over 3 phone conversations. I’ve had a long relationship with Amex much of which had no bonuses but only a long revenue stream from their purchase commissions. I have always talked highly of amex customer service and referred many friends towards using their cards because until recently I had trusted their integrity and believed that they would honor their contracts and commitments to cardholders in a mutually beneficial relationship. Like MP has stated, mistakes are made and had American Express not tried to play games by ignoring the facts and making up countless lies which are known to be false through hundreds of cardholder posts, I could have forgiven them and accepted a fair compromise.

    Instead, Amex has taken the annual fees from cardholders that would not have added AU’s without the bonus points, acquired the personal information of family and friends, and gained additional revenue from any such spending all while breaching the contract made between myself and their authorized representative. In doing so, they have added insulted myself and other cardholders with non-relevant form replies (“sorry for the misunderstanding between myself and the MR agent”: Somehow I think the MR agents knew what they were doing and were authorized until after the fact when Amex decided to change their policy….”sorry, we were unable to find any evidence of you being targeted”: Yes, I never mentioned I was targeted, but your representatives looked into my account, applied the Bonus ID, and described the requirements all of which I performed after accepting the terms of the agreement. I have asked Amex to look into any recorded conversations or notations on my account as well as questioning the representatives that performed their job functions appropriately at the time any of which would prove beyond reasonable doubt that a legally binding contract was formed.

    Had I been rejected by MR for the bonus offer, I would not have added the AU’s, and thus not expected the bonus points. No harm, no foul, and I would still be a very loyal card member. Instead, they insult my intelligence and waste my time, both of which upset me more than the lost points which can be made up for in the varied promotions that show up on travel blogs daily. While I don’t intend to close all my Amex accounts, I will definitely remember the treatment received and forewarn any family and friends that American Express is not a company that can be trusted to keep their commitments and promises. From this fiasco, I have deduced that anything that an agent of American Express tells you or notates to your account may be disregarded and ignored without consequence. Is American Express still better than most other card issuers? Yes, I still believe so, but the return on investment for spending is so close between various popular cards that I see no reason to remain loyal and faithful to my previous favorite corporation when I can no longer trust them to back me up when I am wronged.

  5. Once again, for those of you not targeted, you have no claim. You played roulette and lost. Cancel the card and move on. There will be other deals. This was never as easy as some claimed. I really fail to see where phoning Amex HQ is helpful, unless you were targeted and have a legitimate claim to the bonus ID.

    • Legally, we do have a claim, whether we can prove the contract when most of the tangible evidence belongs to Amex is another story. Had we called Customer Service and been rejected as many were, that would have been roulette. If we don’t have a claim to the bonus points promised by customer service, do we have a claim to the annual fees paid out on the assumption that we would be getting the points for fulfilling the accepted offer? In most case, outside of a lawsuit or small claims action which most likely isn’t worth it, most cardholders will eventually move on. Phoning Amex HQ has in fact worked for some cardholders in adding bonuses more so in the past than the present, but it does still have some potential. Your post above is similar to the ones Amex SM is currently sending out to cardholders who have had their promises broken.

    • I never took part in this offer, but I do think MP’s has a point. If not for being told on the phone that she was eligible for this promo she would not have spent $175 for the additional cards. I think Amex in such a case should either refund the $175 and close the cards or they should offer her some miles, even if it’s fewer then the original offer included.

  6. i agree with carl. I think mommypoints is being out of line here. we all know we are rolling the dice with these things. she knows she wasn’t targeted, yet tried to get the bonus anyway. blaming it on what the phone agent said doesn’t help. they may have just taken your word for it and thought you were targeted. after working for a call center for a little while, you learn these things will eventually happen. stop trying to defraud amex and move on to the next deal.

    the fair thing to do, for both parties, would be to refund the $175 fee charged for additional authorized users and cancel the aforementioned cards.

  7. If you added AUs in August (like me). You should still be able to cancel those cards and get the fee fully refunded. I was told by the Platinum customer service department I had until November to do this if I changed my mind.

    Maybe you should convert your platinum AUs to Gold cards. The annual fee for adding a gold AU to a Platinum card is only $45 for five instead of $175 for five (which is what I assume you paid). That way you don’t have to close all the AU cards. Small Business Saturday is coming…

  8. Actually Carl and Acker, we do have a claim. It’d be the easiest thing in the world for a lawyer to get Amex to produce a tape of a MR rep confirming we were qualified for the bonus. They aren’t some hack company that’s going to withhold evidence.

    Whether its worth the trouble or not is another question.

    • Good luck finding a lawyer to take your case. Actually you may find one, but it will be far more expensive and time consuming than what the points are worth. As i wrote, just cancel the card and drive on.

  9. Has anyone has issues with them stopping honoring the 10K bonus per 15 authorized transactions? I received it for august but I haven’t received it for september when I inquired they said I wasn’t targeted. What do you mean the representative said I was and noted my account, I received credit for august all of a sudden they cut me off?

    • Unlike the AU promo, the 15 transactions per month promo was DOA. It was only for a few people who had gotten their cards after a certain time and they were all notified. I got 110K for AU’s on biz and personal but couldn’t get to first base on the 15 transactions promo.

  10. @Kris, thanks! I just wish for them to be fair to all cardholders. We’ll see what happens. 🙂

    @MichaelP, that stinks. While it is usually a six month wait before you can advance points, the inconsistency of information given is a big problem.

    @tasso, wow, that is great that they held up their end of the bargain in your case. Sorry about the FR though!

    @Heels05, good luck with your FR and I hope that your situation has a happy ending!

    @Gene, I will probably do that – at least for the authorized users. Thanks!

    @Andrew, I very much agree with where you are coming from. For the most part, we are all rational people who would understand and accept a fair compromise, but the “non-relevant form replies” can be a bit insulting. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    @Carl, I agree to a point. There will be other deals, for sure. I also just don’t have time in my life to devote much additional energy to this, but since there was money put up by me directly because I was told I was eligible, this isn’t quite as simple as some of the “you win some, you lose some” deals.

    @Scott, I agree to a point that things like this are sometimes like “rolling the dice”, you do win some/lose some. However, I never said I was targeted. I told them I found out about an offer code and wanted to see if it applied to my account. They said it would apply, and I acted accordingly. In no way was I ever attempting to defraud Amex. I would never attempt to defraud a person, a company, or any other entity. Points are certainly not worth compromising my integrity, so statements saying that I was trying to defraud are just inaccurate.

    @Acker, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    @Josh, I may look into that. Thanks for the info! Not quite sure what I want to do yet.

    @Josh, I agree that it probably wouldn’t be worth the trouble, but I do think there is a strong case for anyone who did want to pursue it (that person just won’t be me!). 🙂

    @heidi, some people are having trouble with that code as well. I’m sorry to hear they are giving you the run around. That is strange they would give it to you one month and then not the next.

    • Yeah now their telling me I got the 75K sign up promo and can’t get both promotions but the rep told me in august I qualified for both, noted my account, even so I sign up my sister as well after me and she is getting both promotions.

  11. I am having the same issues with code 6608. I am currently pondering follow up response to the denial letter I received after the “30 day review”. I will give it another shot & if no dice, I will cancel the card.

  12. Re:
    “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.”

    Actually, they did. They sent you the mail denying the points, though you’re not happy with the results. (I understand where you are coming from, because I was in the same position).

    Whether you SM, call in regular MR line or the EO, they would send it to investigation team who would review and come up with a decision in 10 or 30 days. I believe the decision from that ‘investigation’ is final.

    So I don’t think that “”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.” I think they were looking into your case (so the guy you talked to was trying to help you by moving your case to be reviewed, and it’s not a delay tactic of that sort). I’ll bet if you call them now, they’ll just let you know that you’re not eligible based on the results of their investigation.

    YYMV. Good luck.

    • @FTreader, I see what you are saying. I was specifically referring to the Executive Offices saying that they would “honor any promises that Amex made”. Obviously this could be another case of a representative inadvertently giving bad information, but he said they would be looking into what I was promised in the investigation, not whether or not I was targeted (which we both knew that I was not). In the end it didn’t happen that way, so it was just a few extra weeks with this in limbo. Sorry to hear you were in the same position!

  13. MP,

    I have a similar story, but with an outcome that just today happily resolved itself! I had applied for the Amex Premier Gold card in August, then called up to have a bonus id attached (5894). The CSR at the time said sure, no problem, etc etc. I met the $500 (and then some) within a few days, and called up in early September when I saw only 25,000 points had hit. I was told that I was definitely going to get the points, just to wait the usual 6-8 weeks. Fast-forward to october, and nothing was showing, so I called up again and was told point-blank that there was no record of me having been given the bonus. I complained, and had my case referred to ‘Corporate’. About a week later I got a letter sent through the mail stating that because there was no record of me being targeted for the bonus I would be ineligible. needless to say I was quite annoyed, so I called up Amex, and all the CSRs, supervisors said that because Corporate had already made a decision they were unable to override it. I decided to make one last pitch via SM stating that because I had been promised by more than one CSR that the bonus would be kick in, it would be a tremendous shame to lose a 12-year AMEX customer over this. That was a week ago. Today the remainder of the points (50,000) posted to my account. All I can say is persist, persist, persist!

  14. For what its worth, I recently called 1-800-AXP-EARN (297-3276) and spoke to a representative who told me that the ID# of the representative that added the AU bonus ID to my account is listed and available so that Amex is able to identify the MR rep. Contrary to what I have read in some places, supposedly the conversation is definately recorded and kept available for 1 year (not 1 month as I’ve read in some places). I was able to request that a Manager listen to the conversation where the MR representative added the AU, so that they may determine whether I was told in no uncertain terms that my account was eligible for having the bonus notated and to ask why it was now being denied based upon that conversation. We’ll see if a manager listens and replys back to me via SM as requested. The representative was understanding and had heard of many others upset with the treatment in recent times.

  15. I was told that the taped conversations are saved for 1 year at the least and that I could request that a Manager review the contents of the tape. If Amex is willing to go on the record and state that they will not Honor any promises made by their representative regardless of how clear the terms were of being offered eligibility for the promotion, then I will accept a refund of the Annual fees along with their admission of guilt. I feel that it is only fair that they state the situation for what it is. Not necessarily a honest mistake, but just a costly situation for which they were unprepared to deal with and which they need overcome by not honoring their promises. I know that it is not possible for Amex to admit guilt unfortunately…but really a public statement in general stating how they unfortunately are unable to honor bonus codes to non-solicited members in some form is better than their attempt to sweep things under the carpet with delay tactics and “reviews” which most likely would to most people lead to points being posted rather than the general we “couldn’t find any evidence of your being targeted” which is no review at all if supposedly the cardholder doesn’t reside in Argentina?

  16. @gpapadop, sorry to hear you are in a similar situation. Keep me posted on what happens for you. Good luck!

    @ukinny, you made me wonder if I should try one last SM myself. You have a much longer history with Amex though – good for you!

    @Rosa, I understand just wanting someone to listen to your conversation. I hope that it works out for you!

  17. @mommypoints.. Do you have an update? I received my 2nd form letter today that denied me an unspecified MR offer being extended. Clueless.. Received first letter early October stating that I was eligible (for unspecified offer) but that the 8 weeks hadn’t elapsed. I have names of 3 employees and one supervisor who committed to honor 6661 sign-on bump to 75K. What other options do we have?. For all those “not targeted” haters, when one calls MR and asked for a bonus code and the CSR supervisor honors it in exchange for increased CC spending, that is same as being targeted.

    • @trentswanson, I very much agree with you about “not being targeted”, but sadly I don’t have good news for my case. I have called MR, called the Exec office, written a letter, sent messages, and Tweeted and all I got was a big f-off we don’t care what we said we aren’t honoring it answer. I had no way to win and decided to just drop it and move on. In my case I spent $175 and still lost. That said, I am making sure I get the most value for my $175 by getting Priority Pass for my authorized users and maxing out Small Business Saturday. I do not like how Amex handled this, but wasn’t going to just hurt myself by cancelling my cards.

      I will say I have seen slightly better luck for people who were promised a sign-up bonus. It sounds like that is your case. If all you are pushing for is a sign-up bonus, then try all of the things I listed. If those all fail I’m not sure you have much recourse. I wish I had better news,
      I just ran out of options and steam fighting that battle. I wish you the very best of luck and hope it goes better for you than it did for me.

  18. Hey MommyPoints, I’m in the same boat with a verbal phone promise (for 5K points for $100 Delta purchase; I made 4 such purchases). No luck with all of the various avenues I’ve tried. But I haven’t tried the exec office–could you provide their contact info? I’m frustrated because I ONLY made my purchases based on their verbal statement that I was eligible (I think the rep said, “there’ll be no problem with this applying to your account.”). I asked that he notate my account, but he must not have, because now AMEX says no record of this conversation…

  19. I took the advice of many others and held off calling AMEX MR about this until the dust settled. My brother had been battling AMEX MR for a number of weeks, and I decided to wait until he started to see some light at the end of the tunnel. The light started to appear for him towards the end of last week.

    So, I called AMEX MR today and asked about the status of my 10k points for each additional card (I had added 5 to each of my Plat & PR Gold cards).

    I spent < 10 mins going through the first purchase date for each of the additional cards, was then put on hold for a few mins, and then was pleasantly surprised when Sherry told me she'd gone ahead and credited my account 100k points.

    I immediately logged into my MR account, and there they were! Honestly, I did not have high expectations that it would be so straight forward – but I can only assume back in August when I registered, the agent back then did actually make a note in both my accounts.

    YMMV (and evidently are varying!)

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