How Bad is American Express’s ‘My Wishlist?’

UPDATE: Check out this year’s post: AMEX’s MyWishlist: Everything You Need To Know

Jonathan Myers writes about the half-assed nature of American Express’s ‘My Wishlist’ web site:

A lot of people have heard about the American Express MyWishlist promotion, but if you haven’t, let me summarize. Once or twice a year, typically around holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.) American Express offers products to consumers at far below the retail price. The products are in short supply, small quantities, and it is first come first served. Examples would be an Xbox 360 for $150, or a Range Rover for only $5000.

The last time this promotion ran, I was the winner of a Jonathan Adler vase for a mere $75. On the website, there is an intial page that allows you to say “I want it!” and typically, the response you receive is, “Sorry, just missed it.” This time, however, I made it to the next screen and populated it with my credit card information. I clicked submit, and then….


So I called the customer service line, and the canned response was, gee, sorry, but we’ll make sure we have it fixed on the next go round. We discussed bandwidth, anticipation of internet traffic, etc. The end result – nothing we can do now, but it won’t happen again.

Well, that wasn’t quite true either.

So this go-round, I signed up for the Xbox 360. Same exact thing happens – I get through, input all my information, get super excited to have the latest and greatest video game system for the holidays at a reasonable price, and then…..


I called American Express, understandably upset. After 15 minutes on hold, I was informed I had to call a specific MyWishlist number, which I did.

I spoke with a young guy, explained the situation, and quickly saw he could do nothing. I asked for his supervisor, explained the situation, and saw she, also, could do nothing. I asked for her supervisor and was hung up on.

I called back, and spoke with another young woman. I asked for her supervisor – and was hung up on. I called again, and miraculousy reached the same woman that hung up on me. I was connected to her supervisor after a 20 minute wait, then explained the situation. She promised to “escalate” my issue, and ensured me I’d be called within 48 hours.

4 days later, I did receive a call. I explained everything, and the answer was a resounding, OOPS. They admitted they were in error, but refused to do anything to fix it. I said, “Isn’t American Express known for their customer service, especially in a promotion that is specifically to show customers that they are appreciated? Wasn’t I promised that this exact issue would be resolved?” I was given excuses that bandwidth had been increased, but that the need was underestimated. Underestimated? Let’s think – Xbox 360 – arguablly the hottest item of the Christmas season. A Range Rover Sport for $5,000? Think people might want that?

I explained that failing to plan is planning to fail. Any fool could realize that, gee, a lot of people might want these items, we should probably build our systems to handle it. But no. And furthermore, when this was presented to them, they refused to do anything.

I find it disappointing that American Express knowningly and repeatedly screws over their customers in this promotion. It’s a scam, if you ask me, but no one is willing to do anything, and losing one customer is a drop in the bucket to an organization this large. I would love it if I could let people know that this is a scam, don’t waste your time, even if you win, you lose.

Have any of you actually won anything from these promotions?


Edit Your Comment

  1. YMMV RADIO says:

    This guy is a fucking idiot.

    The wishlist was not as good as last year, true – but you could still crush it – and if you were so inclined make thousands of dollars off of it. Anyone with half a brain and a little business sense had a field day with it again this year.

    There was a good IRC chat going throughout the whole promotion – it was ten times easier to use this year then last year.

    The fact he bothered to call Amex to complain was a joke – I don’t even know where to begin with this one.

  2. mozbrat says:

    Actually, YMMV RADIO, you are a fucking idiot. I called because I encountered an error in the system – I didn’t call because I couldn’t get through, I called because I got through, then it crashed. Twice.

    Also, let me update the story.

    American Express called me to tell me that there wasn’t much they could do, and I kind of said, well, OK, but I’m going to make my story known. A few days later, I get another call.

    They are sending me the Jonathan Adler vase that I had won initially, along with some gift certificates to make up for their error. The vase – gratis.

    So, I guess only a total fucking idiot would call, have enough pull to get AmEx to resolve the situation to my satisfaction, and also get the item he initially would’ve paid $75 for free.

    By the way, you’re a jackass. Anyone that uses it to “make thousands” is just a dick. It’s like the assholes that bought Xbox 360s to make money on eBay. Is it legal? Sure. Is it a quick way to make a buck? You bet. But if you do it, you’re an ass. Period.

    Feel free to respond. I always like dealing with pricks that have no idea what they are talking about. Thanks, and fuck you very much, YMMV.

    -Jonathan Myers

  3. emgeesea says:

    I agree with you, YMMV. I tried to win a My Wishlist item this morning, and it appeared I got through. Then, the damn system would not take my CAPTCHA code – you know, the scrambled security codes sites use to tell humans apart from bots. I tried 6 different codes to no avail, and finally had to give up. Called Amex My Wishlist customer service and got basically the same useless response you got.

    Shame on Amex for such a shit service.

  4. moededoe says:

    Amex wish list is a joke and THANK YOU for posting your complaints on it…I totally agree it’s a scam…Maybe we need to send our thoughts to some tv and print newspeople – maybe they can expose them..

  5. emgeesea, I think you’re agreeing with mozbrat.

    I think y’all should consider getting rid of YMMV RADIO because his/her post was uncalled for.

  6. foodmanry says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your experiences. I’m not really sure if the blame lies wholly on American Express though. If you think about it millions of people are trying to get through that web site in one specific time frame. Of coures odd things are going to happen with all that traffic. Most systems can handle millions of users over a period of time, but instantaneously happening is where it gets bizarre.

    Last year, or was it two years ago..hmm, I was able to get the Aquos TV. I was quite surprised that I actually got to the screen that requested more information. This was the first time I used the wish list and after about 5 rejections I was able to get through and get the TV. The TV was shipped and received within a week. There were no issues with my experience.

    The second go around to try and get a car was not so good. I got to the point where you enter the access code with the fuzzy numbers and letters. But it would not accept it even after 5 retries. Oh well…I was disappointed, but I’m not going to say the whole thing sucks. AMEX is obviously doing this as a publicity to say “Hey become an AMEX card carrying member and you can enjoy some of these items.” They aren’t making any promises so I don’t know why you guys are getting bent out of shape.

  7. moceangirl says:

    I am happy to hear the whole isn’t a scam. I have tried and tried to get many different items to no avail. So now I know that there are people out there who have actually gotten some of the wishlist items. Yahoo!

  8. LM17 says:

    I’m sorry to hear that some of you have had a difficult time with this site. I have to say that I must be lucky because I have “won” a few items BUT that may be because they are not the more popular items (such as the cars or TVs). I was able to purchase the iXi bike (I think it was offered 2 years ago) for about 40% off the retail price. This year I was able to get the 8.0 megapixel Canon camera.

    I tried to get the TV this year but I knew ahead of time that it would be pure luck if I was able to through. Realistically, why would I expect to be able to get through when millions of other people are trying to do the same?

    I do have to say that the website has become better since you have to “unlock” the site first with your Amex card. Also, there are a better variety of products, etc. What’s interesting is that I unlocked with my Amex but paid with my Mastercard…ironic, huh?

    Good luck to you all on your next attempt!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t been able to get anything more than a couple of coupon-type things, but I know two people who scored good deals last year.

    That being said, AMEX has never had what one would call the best online presence. I’ve not once been able to successfully place an order for anything from their rewards catalogue – I now know better than to even try and just call to order. I recall from the first year of Wish List that their servers were nowhere close to being prepared for the response.

    I think YMMV is the best way to describe Wish List. It would be nice if it worked more often than not though.