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….

Nothing.

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…..

Nothing.

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?