Crappy Credit Card Customer Service and Why AMEX is the Worst at Twitter

Just as a disclaimer, I’m a stickler for good customer service (I have at least 5 years of customer service experience under my belt), especially credit card customer service because although I love my credit cards and treat them well, I secretly feel like most credit card companies are evil and benefit from peoples misfortunes/bad choices.

Before I left on Friday night for my bachelorette party in Las Vegas, as a good personal finance blogger should, I made sure to call AMEX and Mastercard to let them know I was planning on using my credit cards in the U.S. for a few days to avoid them thinking someone ran off with my card and blew a bunch of money on Thunder Down Under tickets. It was actually my little sister who reminded me to do this (thanks Sarah!), and seeing as I forgot to do this when my BF and I visited Portland, I didn’t want my credit cards to be frozen again while I was in a different country.

My Mastercard is with BMO, and I’ve had it for at least 8 years now. They’ve always had pretty stellar customer service, which is why I still kept my credit card with them even though I know longer bank with BMO. It seriously took me 10 minutes to get someone on the phone, let them know I was leaving, and the girl I talked to was super helpful and friendly. Easy-peasy I thought. After that it was time to get a hold of AMEX, but easy-peasy it was not! Not only did the phone number on the back of the card direct me to some robot voice, the only options it gave me were to check my balance, raise my credit limit, or pay my balance by phone. There was no option for “other” or to talk to a real live human being! So I searched their website for another phone number, but the one listed directed to me to some guy who didn’t work for AMEX! I read him out the number that was listed on the website, and sure enough it was his phone number so clearly AMEX made a major typo on their website.

After trying the two phone numbers I could find without any success, I turned to Twitter for some answers. I’ve done this before when I was on the train trip from hell with Amtrak and they responded right away and ended up giving my BF and I vouchers for next time. Here’s how our conversation began…

“No sh**!” I thought. Maybe they deal with a lot of stupid people asking stupid questions, but come on! So I tweeted them again…

And nothing. Never got a response back. One of my Twitter followers responded back though, telling me she didn’t notify AMEX when she went to Europe and it was fine. I wrote back saying that that didn’t seem like a good policy, what if someone ran away to Europe with her credit card? Wouldn’t she want AMEX to freeze her card or let her know? Upon seeing this, AMEX finally jumped back into the conversation.

When I responded back…

I got nothing. WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER. And WORST AMEX SOCIAL MEDIA PERSON EVER to boot! How f***ing hard is it to give me the proper phone number to call! Needless to say I just left my AMEX card at home and am seriously considering canceling the stupid thing. I only got it to get cash back points when I shopped at Costco, but to in order to actually cash in your points, you have to go to this whole ordeal of going to Costco, talking to someone at the AMEX desk, filling out some paper work, then waiting a few weeks or months to get your bloody $3 rebate. I’ve had my card since 2010 and I’ve still never gotten any of my rebate money. Why can’t they just put the money back on the card or send a cheque like MBNA?

Have you ever experienced crappy credit card customer service before? 

(Image: Philip Taylor PT)


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  • A few years ago when I was doing my undergrad, my former roommate asked her mom for wine glasses for Christmas. Her mom gave her a super cheap set and an IOU for nice glasses once all of the cheap ones broke. Long story short, she’s down to her last one, and, as the breaker of one of those glasses, it was a relief not to have to worry about breaking something expensive!

    • Also a good thing I learned is stemless wine glasses are amazing. I bought some from Winners almost 2 years ago for super cheap, not one of them has broken yet. And I haven’t had as many wine spills on my carpet.

  • If you do buy a phone, get water insurance. My first time buying a phone I was offered it, laughed it off and said “what will I do drop it in a toilet?” Guess what happened a week later?

    • Good idea. I’ve got a blackberry now but I really want an iphone. But since they just keep coming out with new ones I’m just gonna wait until my plan is up in another 2 years then think about getting an iphone. I got the blackberry for free with my plan because apparently Telus doesn’t really sell flip phones anymore and they wouldn’t let me keep my old phone.

  • I agree with you about couches. My cat thinks that couches are the perfect springboard and climbing wall (and god know what else she does to it when I’m not home), so I’m content with my garage-sale couches for now.

    • Ya, last year I got this really nice practically brand new couch off Craigslist for $100, and at the time my roommate had a cat but she never clawed at anything before. Once we brought the couch into our place she ripped it up real good. It was destroyed within a month. I was really glad I got it used and for cheap.

  • Couldn’t agree more about the wine glasses yet I still continue to believe the new set will be safe in the dishwasher. :(

  • I agree on the wine glasses! My fiancée is so clumsy, that we have a rule in the house: If he spills his wine, he has to drink it out of a sippy cup for a week. I can’t even count how many times I’ve cleaned wine off the couch/floor/coffee table. This rule seems to be working though.

  • Stemless are great, however my spouse has in fact broken one, the day may come for you yet! Did you know that you can get Riedel stemless glasses, perhaps as an intermediate step? They’re a lot more than winners ones, but maybe you could even find them at winners. We’ve been gifted most of ours. I think they’re about $14 for two, or a pretty good price for a whole box of them.

  • OMG that’s funny. Were they even reading your texts or were key words automating a response. I’ve had decent luck using twitter to finally get a hold of a real person, but it doesn’t sounds like the case here. Good customer service is a lost art form. How was your weekend?!?!?

  • ugg that’s the worst. My AMex is basically the only card I use. I was shopping a few weekends ago and they froze my card because of potential “fraud”. Talk about embarrassing when you go to buy something and your card is “declined”. I’d never had that happen to my before because I’ve always paid my cards in full each month. I called the company immediately and they apologized for the “inconvenience”. No Amex it wasn’t inconvenient, it was embarrassing. WTH

  • Ugh, I hate when companies only offer automated phone options of simple things you can do online. I’m like, the only reason I’m calling you is because I COULDN’T do what I wanted through your website! Let me talk to a human!

  • (Jaw drop) WOW! I can’t even imagine, I know how frustrating it is waiting just to talk to a real person but actually talking to someone and having them be complete idiots would send me through the roof.

  • that’s weird, every time I call the number on the back of my Amex I get a real person. That is pretty bad customer service you had. That said, I’ve never alerted Amex when I’ve traveled to the US — and nothing happened (ie. didn’t cut off my card or anything). I guess I assumed because I got my Amex for travel, travel wouldn’t strike them as unusual…. also I book my travel on my Amex haha

    • I just had a bad experience I think with my VISA when I didn’t tell them I was going to Portland and they shut it off and I didn’t want to have that happen again. Good thing I’ve got multiple credit cards.

  • Don’t have AMEX but I do have BMO MC and yes, they provide excellent service, no problem contacting them to tell you’re traveling to US, Europe, anywhere, or for whatever other reason. Plus, when you transfer from BMO account to MC, it’s instantaneous, shameful that TD, RBC or others it can take up to 3 to 4 days, give me a break! And no, I don’t work for BMO.

    • Hey I’ve been with BMO MC for years and I’ve never had a problem, and they don’t care that I don’t bank with them, and that’s why I’ve kept it as my main credit card all these years. Good customer service really does make a big difference.

  • Too funny. BMO Mastercard. I had been a BMO member for over 30 years including a BMO Credit Card holder. Then one day they put my card on hold over a mysterious $1.00 purchase in the States (one that I did not make).

    As I was trying to fill my car with gas, and the line up was very long, I phoned them from the pump asking why my card wasn’t working only to be told it was frozen because they were waiting on verifying the $1 charge.

    At that point they gave me a $100 limit and said a new card would be issued. Several weeks go by and I forgot about this new card being issued. One day I needed some fast cash to pay a emergency house bill where the contractor only took cash/cheques. I went to get a cash advance of $1000 to cover the cheque for a couple of days but was denied.

    After spending 30 mins in the branch managers office where we had a phone conversation with BMO Mastercard back east they told me that they sent me a new card many weeks ago. I asked why they didn’t follow this up since the card was never received and presumed never activated. No answer. They then stated that they would cancel that card too and issue a new one.

    I said fine but I need a cash advance on my current card (you know the one that still had a $100 limit) right now. They told me they couldn’t do that.

    I said fine. Cancel all my cards and I’m closing out my accounts. I walked down the street to TD and opened up new accounts and got a Visa.

    Several months later BMO Mastercard sends me a bill for $25 plus another $70 or something for renewal of my card. I phoned and said I don’t have a card, they were canceled many months ago. They told me they weren’t but dropped the $25 charge and closed the card off. The remaining charge I had to phone yet another BMO number and have that charge removed as well.

    Brutal service. No regard for longevity of the customer relationship. Fact of the matter is they make a ton of money and do not care one bit about any customer or their business relationship with that member.

    • Yikes that sucks! Sorry man! At least it’s a good thing there are options and you can just get a different kind of credit card when you are unhappy with another company’s service right?

  • The Costco Amex card sends a cheque on your January Statment if you can use it buy things at Costco or take it to the front desk for a cash refund. On the other hand why they max it out at $500 a yr to discourage using the card is a big mystery as was cutting the 2% back to only 1%

  • I can relate to this experience. I am in India, called them before leaving, used the card a few times, then I could not recharge my phone via Amex. Used up the last few minutes calling them to ask about the issue. They cut my card off, called my office in Canada to leave a message that there was a problem. When I finally got a hold of them, they denied ever receiving the call to let them know I was going. Sent in a complaint via the web site, and responded within a few days. Apologized for the problems (not sure how that helps me) acknowledged receiving the call and blamed it on automated fraud detection and no human made a decision. Well actually they did when they installed the system. Always have alternative cards and carry lots of cash.

  • Sorry to resurrect an old thread … but if you bank online, look for an option where you can put in the travel alert yourself.
    Where I bank (CIBC), the online banking gives me this option, however, the last time I traveled, I just called the Customer Service line and reached a real live person who was happy to put in a travel notice for me.
    I try to DIY as much as possible :-)

  • My family recently booked a flight to Boston using our American Express miles. An emergency arose two weeks before our flight causing us to change our departure date. We called the 1-800 number on our confirmation email and agreed to the change fees for 3 tickets of $1271.00. We were told we would receive a new flight itinerary in 3-5 minutes, we said our good byes and parted ways. 24hrs later no itinerary ever came. I called the 1-800 number again and spent the entire Saturday trying to sort this issue out. The flight was never booked do to errors on AmEx’s part. They never communicated this error to us and they charged our AmEx card $1790.00 — anyway! AmEx then stated the new ticket fee would be even higher. By the end of the day, tired of arguing and their not accepting any responsibility on their part for errors we got stuck with a $1900.00 change fee.
    After 12 years as a card holder we too will be cutting up our card! As a side note, most European businesses refuse to accept AmEx cards. This caused serious problems for us when we were overseas with our young children.
    Something is seriously wrong with American Express.

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