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When Deals Go Bad

Oct. 07, 2011
7 min read
When Deals Go Bad
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A TPG reader sent me an email recently that made me think about my role as a blogger and my responsibility for the deals I post about. He was angry because he had just gotten off the phone with an American Express representative who denied him a bump bonus that had previously been promised to him. Seeing no other person to vent to, he sent me a somewhat harshly worded email that I should take responsibility for the deals gone bad.

I know many of you are upset about what’s been going on with the Amex bonuses and I just wanted to address your concerns because I understand that not getting a bonus you expected can be extremely frustrating. I do want to point out that, when I post about deals or bonuses, they are working. Sometimes, by the time readers get around to taking advantage of them, they have gone away. That sucks, I know, but that’s the nature of points.

It can be impossible to know - even when companies set deadlines on deals - how long they’ll be good for. Through my own research and your helpful comments, I try to stay as up-to-date as possible on what’s working and what’s not so that I can keep you informed, walking you through the process. I vet the deals I include on my site, and I don’t post ones that seem to have a high risk of being bogus.

I think the Amex bump code did turn into a big debacle on their part, but for the record, many people (myself included) have gotten massive point paydays from the Amex bump codes I posted on TPG and by taking some of the actions I prescribed. Unfortunately, it had to end sometime and there are a lot of people caught in limbo right now. The thing is, while uncertainty is bad enough, it’s still better than knowing for sure that you’re not getting those points, and it’s not too late to fight!

To me, it's like a game of chess - often when you are backed up against the wall and think there's no way out, you can maneuver and try something new that ends up getting you even more points than you expected. It's those windfalls that really make it worth it, and you have to be willing to take some risks and put in the effort (sometimes quite a lot of effort!).

The Amex Bump Code

From my perspective, if an American Express agent confirmed that you were eligible for a bonus (and this is the important point: someone must have told you that you were getting it) if you completed a certain amount spend and you followed your end of the bargain, then you should get it. The calls are recorded and they know this issue happened and people are still getting their points with enough persistence.

A main reason why I haven't had an updated blog post on the matter is because you should wait 6-8 weeks from hitting your spend to see if the points post automatically. Some people are reporting automatic bonuses (some people even got double dips - manual and automatic bonuses hitting their accounts), so don’t panic just yet.

Some readers might disagree with me, but unless you complain before the masses do, I'd advise not staging your battle for the points in the heat of the moment until some of the hubbub dies down. Amex is still figuring out how to deal with this and they are currently making people run in circles. Instead of wasting your time, see how it shakes out and then plan your attack accordingly. They may end up granting exceptions for those who have recorded confirmation of the bonus. Just be sure you have documentation and a clear strategy when you contact them.

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Tips on Getting the Bump

However, if you want to fight it now, here are a couple quick tips:

1) Write down all of the facts. When you applied for the card, when you called for the bump, who promised it to you, what promo ID it was and any other important information.

2) Document when you completed the requirements of the bonus.

3) Summarize your history with American Express - how many years have you been a member, how much spend do you do annually, etc

4) Call the number on the back of your card and ask to speak to Membership Rewards.

5) Calmly state that you were confirmed X bonus and you'd like to confirm the points will post. You'll likely be rebuffed by a rep who is tired of dealing with this issue. Ask to speak to a manager. The manager will also probably be exasperated dealing with this and may even make you feel like a bad person. This is frustrating, but document everything including whom you speak to. Calmly state the facts from 1-3. Try to be as nice and rational as possible, but understand that your blood pressure may start to boil. They will most likely reject you, but you never know - some people have gotten the points.

6) If you don’t get the points while on the phone, try sending a secure message. Just log into and you'll see a message box on the top right displaying how many messages you have. Click on the number, then compose message with all your facts noted. You will most likely be rejected, but you never know. You should try to take care of this through the usual channels above before going for option seven below.

7) Mail or call the executive office with your dissatisfaction with the customer service you've received. Membership Rewards is just one department within a huge company, so if management gets a lot of complaints about customer service, they may decide to override their decision. Once again, succinctly state the facts - make your complaint about the fact that you were confirmed for a promotion by a representative of American Express and now they are going back on their word. Let them know how that makes you feel as a cardmember and state your action. You want to be able to trust American Express to be your primary card issuer, but you are having a hard time doing that based on this situation.

Here is the corporate contact information for Amex courtesy of Consumerist:
American Express Company
Executive Offices
200 Vesey Street
New York, New York 10285

Share Your Information

Please feel free to comment on this post to share your experience with other TPG readers. I'd also highly recommend following the Flyertalk thread on this issue to understand the ebb and flow of this saga. My experience with American Express has always been very positive, so I hope they will do the right thing in the end and honor the commitments they've made to their cardholders.

You Matter

In the end, I want to make it clear that my readers are my boss. While I have made a full-time living out of blogging and in turn take advertising/referral money - my main goal is to provide each and every one of you value when you visit my site every day. I can't be totally responsible for how each and every deal turns out, but like I said, I do my best to bring you the best ones out there. The quest for miles and points is often a bumpy road (for me, too!) and there will be deals that go awry, but it's all about reacting calmly and coolly and learning how to attack the next deal – because there are bound to be plenty more great ones out there, and I look forward to bringing them to you!

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