Monday, February 16, 2009

Brick to: American Express branded prepaid card

On Feb. 12, I received a postcard which had absolutely no identifying or telephone contact information but said "The American Express branded prepaid card issued to you is about to expire."

I did not know of an outstanding card issued to me, and did not have one in my possession, so I felt that was worth a phone call to check.

Interesting, there was not a phone number anywhere on the notification card - I had to call American Express service center for their normal card service center and find an alternative number for prepaid cards. I thus called American Express 877 796 4678 on Feb. 16.

On the phone call with American Express, they said they could not find the information since it was an anonymous prepaid or gift card. I challenged that it could not be anonymous, since they sent a postcard to my name and address telling me that the card still had unexpired points.

A service agent kept checking, asking me what was the balance on the card (I repeated I did not know of the card, so I did not have a balance), what was the number on the card (I repeated I did not know of the card, so I did not have it and could not see a number), whether the card was denominated in numbers or points (I repeated I did not know if the card, so I did not have it and could not look), what was the name on the card (I repeated etc etc).

Ultimately, the service agent said there is not record of me at American Express. I said did that mean they did not send me the postcard from American Express? She said that is correct. I said that is odd, and wanted her to absolutely assure me that she was the proper department for "branded prepaid cards". She said it was the right department for "prepaid gift cards". I said was that the same thing? She said she would check, then came back on a said she would need to transfer me to a different department.

So, after a wait, I had my third American Express representative. We went through the same routine of him asking me about the card. Then he looked up my name and - good sign - actually began asking me for validating personal information.

Then the agent said he found the account but that, unfortunately, the account was already expired. I pointed out that Feb. 16 (today) was before the expiration date of Feb. 28. He asked to wait a moment, then came back on the line and verified that, yes, I was correct. But still he said they would not be able to issue a replacement card because it takes 7 to 10 business days to receive it. I pointed out that that meant there was a very good chance I would receive it before the Feb. 28 deadline. He said they would not be allowed to do that. I asked if it would be possible for them to provide the information to me in a secure way that would allow me to use the card online, or without physical use of the card. He checked and said they would not be able to do that. I asked if they could issue me a check for the balance on the card, perhaps by charging me a check issuance fee. He checked again and said they would not be able to do that.

I asked to speak with a supervisor, since I would be willing to take the chance that the card might arrive in time.

The representative came back online and now said he had a new alternative - they could send the card to me within five business days by UPS for a $20 fee. OK, now we're FINALLY getting somewhere! So, we made those arrangements. Just for the record, I asked what phone number I was talking to. It was 888 900 2347.

Now I'll wait the five business days, not really hopeful, but at least feeling like there's a remote possibility something good will come from this.


  1. Did you ever get your prepaid card?

  2. Thanks for checking... yes, ultimately the card did arrive and we were able to spend most of open balance. What an ordeal up front, but worked through at the end. Too many hours expended though with what should have been an easy transaction with a customer service line.