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In a market where products are increasingly similar, how do you stand out as a company? Phrases like unique selling proposition get tossed around a lot in the world of branding. However, Amex’s most recent customer service experience clearly provided me with a reason to stay loyal to the Amex brand.

The Mistake

As I wrote in an earlier post, I booked my most recent trip to Colombia on pretty short notice. I was swamped with work and then booked the trip with less than 96 hours before take off. Given that I had to wrap up things at work before heading out for the labor day weekend, I forgot that my Priority Pass card was no longer valid as I had canceled my Hilton Aspire card.

Lounge Access Denied

After checking into my flight and clearing immigration formalities, I made the second mistake by assuming that I had lounge access. I was flying Business Class on Copa airlines and made the mistake by assuming that there would be a lounge at the airport on the airside.

Airport Lounge Entry

Entrance to the lounge

However, there was no such Copa Airlines lounge at the international terminal at Cartagena Airport. The lounge employee mentioned that it was only at the Domestic terminal. The next task at hand was to try and access the Sala VIP lounge at the terminal. The Sala VIP lounge is a Priority Pass lounge. The agent at the lounge swiped my card and gave me the bad news, that my priority pass card was not valid.

Customer Service Call

At this point, I thought of calling Amex to check if I could get any access to any sort of updated digital version of the card. I called the number on the back of my Platinum Card. In less than a minute, I was connected to a customer service agent.

He said that he was willing to help me out with my Priority Pass access. However, he said that it would still not grant me access to the lounge. He mentioned that even after I activate the Priority Pass card, Amex’s system takes around 24-48 hours to produce a digital version of the card number and details, before eventually shipping out the physical card. The rep mentioned that unfortunately that wouldn’t be quick enough to grant me access to the Sala VIP lounge.

The Solution

I thanked the rep for checking and was about to hang up. Just then, he asked me to wait for a minute. The rep then asked me to find out the price of paid access to the lounge. The paid access price was $30 per person. I mentioned to the rep that it would be a total of $60 for two people.

At this point, the rep said: “Since you’re a valued Platinum Card member since many years, I can help you out by issuing a $60 statement credit on your Platinum Card. All you need to do is simply use your Platinum card now to pay a total of $60 for paid access to the lounge.”

The Pundit’s Mantra

Given that I still had about 90 minutes left for my flight, I was thrilled with the gesture from the Amex rep. I paid the access fee with my Platinum Card and entered the lounge. What was even more amazing is how quickly the $60 credit posted. The credit had already posted by the time I reached back home in the US on that day.

The credit posted on the same day

I’ve been consistently impressed with Amex’s customer service over the years. Also, it’s no coincidence that I put most on my spend on my Amex cards. I’ve found some of their benefits to be of fantastic use. In particular, benefits like extended warranty, purchase protection and retention bonuses.

Does that mean that I’ll never have a bad experience with them? No, of course not. However, I’m impressed with their consistency of benefits and the quality of customer service that I’ve experienced over the last decade. Currently, you can earn a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards points with the Business Platinum Card.

Have you had a similar experience when your credit card’s customer service department really went out of the way to help you out? Let us know in the comments section.

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