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No Thanks, Marv: Nice Guys Get FITA By AmEx [Long Rant]

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Posted (edited)

Every time seems that I have to call AmEx, they try to sell me an upgrade to either the Platinum Card or the Delta Platinum / Reserve.  I barely want to keep Gold with the way they keep raising the AF and nerfing benefits, but I've had it for nearly 30 years and I'm nostalgic.  

 

So, a couple weeks ago, just before our nice Christmas vacation to a tropical paradise / freakshow, I ended up calling because they were screwing me out of 20k MRPs.  As usual, the CSR was offshore, but also as usual he did a superb job of handling the problem.  Just before I'm about to thank him and hang up, he starts with the upgrade from Gold to Platinum shpiel.  Being the nice guy that I am, I listened for a minute, asked a question, listened again for a minute, expressed uncertainty and told him, "I'm not sure.  Let me think about it and if I decide I'll call you back."  Upon hearing that, he should just STFU and thank me and drop the call.  But nooooo ... he continues with the hard-sell.  He digs through all my past travel expenses and tries to convince me I'd be earning money with the Platinum.  Again, I told him, "No thanks, I'll wait.  Maybe in the future."  But he just won't STFU.  He continues pushing me and calculating every purchase I've ever made to convince me how upgrading is a money-maker for me. I asked if there were an upgrade bonus and he said, "No, but you are still winning!."  This charade continues for 25 fooking minutes which is, by the way, about 24.5 minutes longer than my normal FOAD suggestion simply because I keep remembering Marv's continual suggestions to be nicer:  "Don't be mean, Mr. PotO, be nice!"  So in the end just to shut the b'tard up, I upgraded.   

 

After a couple of days I resigned myself to just carry the Platinum Card for another year and a half and then, if it wasn't working out, downgrade.

 

When it rains, it storms.  It just so happens that a week or so earlier we booked our air tickets through AmEx Travel and, as luck would have it, the airline cancelled the outbound flight and the substitute flights they offered were unacceptable.  I called AmEx and the agent cancelled the tickets and booked new ones for us on another airline which, in the end, cost double.  Ok, no problem ... it was my choice.  So, the guy takes 45 minutes to copy-paste from the old reservation and quadruple confirm everything with me all at international direct dial rates.  After the first 5 minutes my initial reaction was to tell the guy to STFU and get me a supervisor who understood rudimentary English and knew WTF they were doing, but, again, Marv -- "Be nice!"  45 minutes later, mission accomplished.  Not.  As soon as I got the confirmation e-mails for each of the four travelers, I noticed the b'tard forgot to include my middle name -- a fatal error in international travel.  

 

I called AmEx Travel again and got the same koont as before and politely -- thanks to Marv! -- explained the error and told him very nicely that he needed to be more careful.  Another 60 minute call with 85% of that time on hold and the guy cancelled the reservation only to discover there weren't enough seats in inventory to rebook.  So he un-cancelled the reservation, removed me and booked one separate ticket for me. He said he added my middle name and copy-pasted everything else exactly as before.  Everything was finally ok and I was pleased I could follow Marv's advice and make him happy.  Ok, so maybe not ok.

 

Check-in time at the airport.  The AmEx agent spelled my son's name wrong and the airline wouldn't allow him to check in.  45 minutes with AmEx Travel on the phone and because of the time difference they could not reach the airline to fix the issue.  All I could see was 10,000 fooking dollars lost and a murder rap for strangling the airline check-in clerk.  Fortunately, I found in my phone book the number for a local guy whose wife worked for the country Civil Aviation Administration.  I called him and within a few short minutes he called me back and everything was fixed!  We could all check in, but then we found out the AmEx agent only reserved my seat and not for the other three passengers.  The flight was, of course, full so we all ended up sitting in different parts of the plane.  Well, at least we were flying.

 

Great vacation.  Nice people.  All rested and relaxed ... and time to come back home.  A 50-minute call to AmEx Travel over seat assignments with no results because of the time difference.  No check-in name problems, though.  Also no seat assignments.  Fortunately the flight was not full and we could get seats together anyhow.    

 

In contact now with AmEx Executive Customer Relations over getting those two AmEx staff members sh!!tcanned and getting compensation for the four hours of internation-direct-dial-rate calls to AmEx Travel.  Things are going well.  They listened in to the call recordings and agree the two AmEx representatives were terrible.  I had already reversed my Platinum upgrade and downgraded my Delta Car to the no-AF version.  I told the EO representative that next I would be cancelling cards and moving a boatload of cash out of AmEx FSB "high-yield" savings and she asked what it would take to make me a happy camper again for another 30 years.  So, realizing that I was in this mess to begin with because I followed Marv's advice, I told her clearly, "I expect the two Neanderthals that I previously dealt with to face disciplinary action.  I expect you will re-upgrade the Gold Card to Platinum with 2.5 years no AF.  I expect an upgrade again to Delta Platinum with no AF for 2.5 years.  And 40,000 MRPs.  This is non-negotiable.  Otherwise, AmEx can simply KMA."  Their reply was, "I think that's reasonable.  We can do that.  You will have the new cards sent to your overseas address by FedEx to arrive by Monday at 6 pm.  The MRPs will take a couple of days to post.  The two representatives will be dealt with."

 

So, boys and girls, what do we learn from all this?  Do we learn that when you have them by the short & curlies you squeeze?  No, we already know that.  What we learn is that (1) you can avoid many of life's problems by ignoring Marv's advice to be kind.  Marv is a wise man, knows a lot and is a great friend, but the "Be kind!" advice is a crock of shiat.  (2) Nice guys get FITA.  (3) Don't get mad, get even.  

 

/rant

 

 

 

Edited by PotO

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"I'm not sure" is not a "nice guy" response to a sales pitch, nor is it effective at ending one. 

The "A" response is "Thank you, but I'm not interested."  (Followed by "NO, thank you", if they persist)

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46 minutes ago, hdporter said:

"I'm not sure" is not a "nice guy" response to a sales pitch, nor is it effective at ending one. 

The "A" response is "Thank you, but I'm not interested."  (Followed by "NO, thank you", if they persist)


"I'm not sure.  Let me think about it and if I decide I'll call you back."  

 

Unless the rep has some sort of learning disability, that should be sufficient.  After the second time, even Cappy would have understood.  
 

Nobody should have to endure a hard sell every time you call AmEx.  Discover, maybe.  CapOne, definitely.  But not AmEx.  I suspect their offshore CSRs have their compensation linked to how many upgrades they sell.  

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52 minutes ago, PotO said:


"I'm not sure.  Let me think about it and if I decide I'll call you back."  

 

Unless the rep has some sort of learning disability, that should be sufficient.  After the second time, even Cappy would have understood.  
 

Nobody should have to endure a hard sell every time you call AmEx.  Discover, maybe.  CapOne, definitely.  But not AmEx.  I suspect their offshore CSRs have their compensation linked to how many upgrades they sell.  

 

I get it.  But why do you find it necessary to tell them that you want to think about it and you may call back?  That's a ready made invitation for them to respond by inquiring about the considerations that presumably underlie that response.

 

Just say you're not interested.  <end of story>

 

Every phone solicitor is trained to listen for the presence of "considerations" and, in turn, push to effectively neutralize them so that they no longer stand as an impediment to a "YES".  If you want to get off the phone, keep your refusals simple.  "I don't want to" (or words to that effect) is the best refusal; there's no rational argument against it.  (Works for every 3-year old on the planet, except when the other party to the conversation has coercive influence ;) )

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33 minutes ago, hdporter said:

 

I get it.  But why do you find it necessary to tell them that you want to think about it and you may call back?  That's a ready made invitation for them to respond by inquiring about the considerations that presumably underlie that response.

 

Just say you're not interested.  <end of story>

 

Every phone solicitor is trained to listen for the presence of "considerations" and, in turn, push to effectively neutralize them so that they no longer stand as an impediment to a "YES".  If you want to get off the phone, keep your refusals simple.  "I don't want to" (or words to that effect) is the best refusal; there's no rational argument against it.  (Works for every 3-year old on the planet, except when the other party to the conversation has coercive influence ;) )


I was just trying Marv's "Be Nice!" shtick.  :)

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35 minutes ago, PotO said:


I was just trying Marv's "Be Nice!" shtick.  :)

 

That's covered by the "Thank you" part (as opposed to, say, FU).  No need to elaborate. 

 

< FWIW, I respond very nicely when I happen to pick up an unrecognized phone call and find I'm dealing with an unwanted solicitation.  Then I hang up, without waiting to hear the reply. >

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, hdporter said:

 

That's covered by the "Thank you" part (as opposed to, say, FU).  No need to elaborate. 

 

< FWIW, I respond very nicely when I happen to pick up an unrecognized phone call and find I'm dealing with an unwanted solicitation.  Then I hang up, without waiting to hear the reply. >

 

What about, "FU, thank you" ?  😄

 

Depending on the circumstances, unsolicited telephone sales pitches (in English) usually result in me giving the caller a bit of hope and then finally vile insults.  In other languages, a curt "No."  If they then continue, then they get an earful.  

 

I actually prefer unsolicited sales calls in languages other than English.  For some strange reason, it feels good.  Maybe it's because the caller suffers more "damage".  A funny thing I've noticed is that if, for example, a Chinese person insults another Chinese person, they might argue for a moment, but then let it go.  On the other hand, if a foreigner insults a Chinese person using the Chinese language, it's like you've driven a stake through their heart.  That brightens my day.  😂

Edited by PotO

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You being nice on the first two calls was what got you the no AF upgrades and 40k MR. When the EO rep listened to the call recordings, had they heard you being your natural PotO self you probably wouldn’t have had the same result. And with the CSRs being incompetent, you’d still have ended up with screwed up airline reservations but not the free stuff. 
So the takeaway from this is pretend to be nice, let them screw up, then get mad (justifiably) and you’ll be rewarded for pretending to be nice in the first place. 

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37 minutes ago, DPB said:

You being nice on the first two calls was what got you the no AF upgrades and 40k MR. When the EO rep listened to the call recordings, had they heard you being your natural PotO self you probably wouldn’t have had the same result. And with the CSRs being incompetent, you’d still have ended up with screwed up airline reservations but not the free stuff. 
So the takeaway from this is pretend to be nice, let them screw up, then get mad (justifiably) and you’ll be rewarded for pretending to be nice in the first place. 


You, my friend, are a genius!!  I think you've hit upon a way to cash in on faux niceness, and ultimately end up with the satisfaction of being a MAB. 
 

Note to Marv:  Please change your advice to "Pretend to be nice to catch more flies."  My grandmother always said, you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.  Then, after you catch the flies, you squash the little b'tards to death.  😁

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9 hours ago, hdporter said:

"I'm not sure" is not a "nice guy" response to a sales pitch, nor is it effective at ending one. 

The "A" response is "Thank you, but I'm not interested."  (Followed by "NO, thank you", if they persist)

"click" often works as well...especially with an offshorian since. after all, those international calls can be so darned unreliable sometimes...

 

I do have to concede that I don't get the offshorians when I call AXP.  The Plat card has always gotten me someone based in the States.  I'm not sure if having Plat is why I get a Stateside rep on the other two cards or if that has just been sheer luck...

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1 hour ago, centex said:

"click" often works as well...especially with an offshorian since. after all, those international calls can be so darned unreliable sometimes...

 

I do have to concede that I don't get the offshorians when I call AXP.  The Plat card has always gotten me someone based in the States.  I'm not sure if having Plat is why I get a Stateside rep on the other two cards or if that has just been sheer luck...

same here. I've never had offshore reps with amex (or chase FTM). Frankly the powerless twang of discovery reps is worse than offshore. At least with a call center in India I can ask the rep for his/her granny's vindaloo recipe

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7 hours ago, hegemony said:

same here. I've never had offshore reps with amex (or chase FTM). Frankly the powerless twang of discovery reps is worse than offshore. At least with a call center in India I can ask the rep for his/her granny's vindaloo recipe


I seem to get offshorians with AmEx probably because I call at around 3am US time.  Generally they are really good, unlike their online chat support.  Calling the biz number always gets me a US person.

 

Barclays and especially HSBC always gets me offshorians. Always.  I don't mind as mostly they are from Philippines and you know how that goes. ;)

 

Even if from India, they are generally very good CSRs.  Except for HSBC.  HSBC has absolutely horrible staff in their India call centers.  Not only incompetent, but mostly unintelligible. 
 

 

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9 hours ago, centex said:

"click" often works as well...especially with an offshorian since. after all, those international calls can be so darned unreliable sometimes...

 

I do have to concede that I don't get the offshorians when I call AXP.  The Plat card has always gotten me someone based in the States.  I'm not sure if having Plat is why I get a Stateside rep on the other two cards or if that has just been sheer luck...


"Click" is a good strategy, too.  :)

 

I think, though, I will modify Marv's "Be Nice" advice along the lines of DPB's strategy.  It could actually be quite lucrative.  

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I've come to realize that, just because they sound Indian, doesn't mean they're offshore. The majority of our support team is Indian, and they're all in the Midwest. I wonder how many people that throws off.

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46 minutes ago, Bad Doctor Frost said:

I've come to realize that, just because they sound Indian, doesn't mean they're offshore. The majority of our support team is Indian, and they're all in the Midwest. I wonder how many people that throws off.

I suppose it could actually throw people off.   Have those on your staff been in the US long?  I mean, although they may have somewhat of an accept, they don't make crazy mistakes like always calling you Sir Frost or Mr. Sir Frost, do they?  
 

The offshorians that are really annoying are those at HSBC.  All others that I have encountered are 99% pretty good.  

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26 minutes ago, PotO said:

I suppose it could actually throw people off.   Have those on your staff been in the US long?  I mean, although they may have somewhat of an accept, they don't make crazy mistakes like always calling you Sir Frost or Mr. Sir Frost, do they?  
 

The offshorians that are really annoying are those at HSBC.  All others that I have encountered are 99% pretty good.  

Some have been here many, many years. But they do still make many grammar mistakes since English is not their first language. One I find very common is they never say "last night," but always "yesterday night." 

 

But, my company has locations all over the world, so it just amuses me that we have so much based in little old Midwest. I have to have a conference call with London sometime this week, which means coordinating 3 time zones. 😣

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On 1/3/2020 at 8:18 AM, DPB said:

So the takeaway from this is pretend to be nice, let them screw up, then get mad (justifiably) and you’ll be rewarded for pretending to be nice in the first place. 

 

Ok, you caught me ...

 

I was on the phone with the support unit for Chase Sapphire Rewards travel portal concerning a reward ticket that I had cancelled.  The woman on the other end, who was very sweet, was also rather clueless.  Things were complicated because documentation of the ticketing was meager, and I was having trouble finding a confirmation email (uncertain exactly who it would be send from, as a means of entering a search). 

 

I prefer not to vent my frustration verbally, unless I think it will be productive (at that point, it's actually best to just ask to be connected to a supervisor).  However, my frustration was mounting and after I was asked if it would be all right to put me on hold for the third time, I politely agreed while repeatedly thrusting my right hand in the air, "strategic" finger extended. 

 

My wife, who was reading on the sofa let out a loud and raucous laugh (a possible giveaway to the CSR that maybe I wasn't being quite so serene on my end ;) ...

 

(Truth is, my brain had short circuited in making the call at all; a not infrequent occurrence recently, as I continue to be overwhelmed by our pending move to MA.  I'd practically "shut down" since our closing on the Dec 18 and am only now beginning to re-engage in the task at hand.   In any case, my follow up, as some likely surmised, should have been with American, not CSR Travel.)

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