HOWZ YER URL?
By Denny Hatch
I've been an American Express Cardmember since 1964. As a company that has been in business for a long time, you would think it would have business on the Internet aced. Think again.
I lost my American Express platinum card (for which I pay $300 a year) and wanted to report it. I went on Google and searched both "American Express Platinum Card" and "American Express," and went through screen after screen looking for how to report a lost card. Finally I found an 800 number to report a lost card and dialed it. The recorded message: "You have reached a non-working American Express number. Please consult the back of your card for the 800 number to call."
I found another 800 number and got this recorded message: "Welcome to the American Express Platinum Card. To check on an application for a platinum card, press one. If you wish to apply for a platinum card by phone, press two. If you know your party's extension, press three. For all other information about your account, please call the 800 number on the back of your card."
I finally found someone to help me, but it took a half-hour. Imagine being in a foreign country in an Internet café and under the horrendous stress of a lost card.
American Express has fallen into the trap of the great turn-of-the-century dot-com boom where incompetent techno-dweebs without one iota of marketing know-how have left their prints all over Web sites everywhere, causing well-meaning companies to be seriously hurt.
What else is happening in URLand? You would be astonished at the number of large Web sites that fail to include a physical address, phone number or contact name.
I get the sense that these technology-loving Web designers feel obligated to "protect" the people in a company from unwanted communications, and employers are too lazy or stupid to get involved. Let the angry customers' messages pile up in limbo, goes the thinking, because our executives are too important and too busy running the business.