Rookie Wednesday: How NOT to cancel a travel card (by accident)! – by Noah Mark

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Wait! I don’t really want to close my account!

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Let me start by saying I love Starwood Hotels! I have stayed at many Sheratons, Ws, Alofts, Four Points, A Tribute Portfolio hotel, and The fabulous Westin Palace In Madrid, Spain. However as far as having a Starwood Amex, I wanted to consider my options for the personal card I held, and perhaps change or cancel this card. I wouldn’t want SPG to leave my wallet, so independent of this I was considering applying for the Business Card version of this card. The business version has two perks of interest to me that the personal card doesn’t have; Sheraton Club Lounge Access, and complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi.

But when my annual fee for my Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express came due, I wanted to see what options I had. Maybe Amex would be so nice to give me some points to keep the card? Maybe I would change this to a no-fee card? What were my options?

So a few weeks ago I called Amex to see what they would say. Now anytime an annual fee is about to be due, I make it a point to call the credit card provider, and review the benefits of each card. Having many affinity cards at any given time, it’s always best to review the benefits of each card to ensure you are getting the full value potential and that it makes sense for you to pay the annual fee and continue to hold the card.

The automated system picked up, and I simply stated “I’d like to cancel my card.” Now I did this very same thing last year. When I did it back then, the automated system, immediately said “Okay got it, please hold on while I transfer you to someone who can help.”

Well, boy has that changed this year! This time the system said “You’d like to cancel your card, is that right?” I sheepishly said, “Yes.” figuring this was just a double confirmation that they were going to transfer me to the right department. Well to my shock and horror, the system said “Okay got it, we have canceled your card, please destroy the physical card, you will receive a refund for your annual fee, thank you.” Wait!!! I wanted to talk to someone, not actually cancel my card, Stop! But there it was within seconds on the app.

Amex-App

Noooooooooo!

I spoke to someone within 5 minutes and explained to them the system canceled my card, but, in reality I just wanted to discuss with someone the possibility of canceling, not that I actually wanted to cancel my card. There’s a painful irony in the fact that now I’m trying to salvage this card. The representative I spoke with, while friendly told me they couldn’t automatically reinstate my card, they would have to put in a request and I would get a decision within 10 days.

That seemed concerning, perhaps it’s the pessimist in me but usually the old “We’ll mail you in 7-10 days.” means no. So I took things to twitter hoping for relief from @AskAmex to no avail.

Amex-AskAmex

Twitter to the rescue?

Well I received my statement and another letter a week later. There statement mocked me again for my foolishness “Account canceled at your request”

Amex-Statement

This is NOT what I wanted to happen!

While the letter I received was quite bizarre in nature stating my request for account reinstatement was denied due to “Having the maximum number of accounts American Express allows for this type of product. ” Only, this wasn’t at all true, considering the only cards I held were American Express Delta Skymiles Platinum cards (one personal and one business) and the one personal Starwood Card I had accidentally canceled.

Amex-Letter

You can only have 4 AMEX CC at one time!

I called back and immediately asked for a supervisor. I explained my situation and the bizarre denial letter, and they said they would need to bring this to the escalation team, and he would call me back. Again another friendly representative, however this was shocking that a simple mistake that I tried to clear up within minutes would take weeks to fix, or maybe not even at all!

You may ask yourself, why all the fuss? After all wasn’t I looking to change or maybe even outright cancel the card? Well truth be told, I was hoping there would be some points tossed my way to keep the card. With the uncertainty of the future of the Starwood Preferred Guest program (no matter who buys them now) last year, I needed all the incentive I could get. And while I was considering my options I do have an upcoming stay next month at The W Victory in Dallas TX, and I would like to use the card to earn maximum SPG points.

Anyway, a few days went by and I almost gave up hope on the supervisor’s promise to call me back. Well to my surprise I received a call on a Tuesday night at 7:45pm and low and behold, the supervisor was able to get the card reinstated for me to my delight! YES!!!!

What an ordeal. So the moral of the story is, don’t tell a computer you want to cancel a card. Because, well they just might do what you ask them to when you really want to KEEP THE CARD! – Noah Mark

Thanks Noah Mark for today’s guest Rookie post. I am HOLDING  my SPG card even though I am not going for Platinum status again because, for now, Starpoints are still just about the most valuable travel points you can earn. – René

 

 

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

 

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