You Asked For It

I broke out in a cold sweat as soon as I read the email:

Your information has been updated

We have completed your request to change your address in our files from 999 Housing Society Name, Colony Name, GURGAON* to 999 Housing Society Name, Colony Name, GURGAOM*. If this is correct, you do not need to take any further action and can disregard this email.

*Note: In order to protect the security of your account, the complete address is not listed above.

If you did not request this address update, please call us immediately using the number on the back of your Card.

Thank you for your Card Membership.

American Express Customer Care”

Now, it has long been one of the many peeves of mine that I have not been hacked and whether I was not important enough to be targeted. But when it actually appeared to have happened, on 22nd September, time-stamped 11:16 AM, I broke out in a sweat. A cold one too, before I forget.

It was thoughtful of the company to have not listed the complete address in order to protect the security of my account. I believe they compressed the air out of the address text since the address mentioned in the email is all that is needed for anyone to reach it, should they desire to. Never one to follow a good practice without a struggle, I masked the address.

Unless they are referring to their cleverness in changing the city from Gurgaon to Gurgaom. That should fool the hackers and information stealers.

But American Express is a thoughtful provider. They think of everything. Below the email they even mentioned:

To Contact Us

Please do not reply to the email for any enquiries – messages sent to this address cannot be answered.

Kindly contact our Customer Service Representative on the numbers mentioned on the back of your card or alternatively you can write to us:

American Express Banking Corp.

Cyber City, Tower – C, Bldg. No 8, Sector 25

DLF City Ph II, Gurgaon – 122002

Thank you for using American Express Online Services”

Completely sensible. Sending an email to a customer and telling him that he cannot send an email back. He can either call a customer representative or send a physical mail (snail mail for those who cannot picture physical mail) to their thoughtfully provided address that they even had the presence of mind to not hide, thankfully signed off as ‘American Express Online Services.’ If you cannot send a physical mail to an online service, where will you?

But I ramble. I think it is the sense of relief after the call that I made as suggested by them. I made the call at 11:56 AM and it lasted 8 minutes and 37 seconds, the metadata to serve as breadcrumbs for retrieval in case American Express ever decided they are not happy with me.

The call was answered and I was politely advised that it could have been initiated by the KYC team.

After a moment of reflection upon receiving this immensely useful piece of information, I could only say, “Hmmm. So?”

The young man, to his eternal credit, remained unfazed. He returned in a few moments with another representative on the line, this time from the KYC team. His name was Saket. Saket said, “You don’t have to worry, sir. Based on your KYC (Know your customer) documents our back-office team did a realignment of your address. I think the city name was corrected.”

Upon more reflection I said, “’change your address in our files from 999 Housing Society Name, Colony Name, GURGAON* to 999 Housing Society Name, Colony Name, GURGAOM*’ sounds like you have changed it to Gurgaom. I believe the correct spelling is Gurgaon. I know political parties keep changing city names, but I have not heard of it changing to Gurgaom.”

“Don’t worry, sir. It was done by the backend team. You don’t need to do anything.”

“In that case, thank you for sending me this email asking me to call in case I had not initiated this address change request. Everyone’s time seems to have been put to some good use this morning as a result.”

“I am sorry for that sir. It is an automated process, you see.”

“Ah, automated process,” I said to myself and ended the call, as that explained everything. I could be faulted for believing that was the end of it. But was it?

A few minutes later, when I peeped into my inbox once more, there was another email sitting in my inbox from americanexpress@alerts.americanexpress.com, time-stamped 12:05 PM. I could feel the sweat, the cold one, beginning to form, as I clicked on it with trepidation. It said:

Your information has been updated

We have completed your request to change your address in our files from 999 Housing Society Name, Colony Name, GURGAOM* to 999 Housing Society Name, Colony Name, GURGAON*. If this is correct, you do not need to take any further action and can disregard this email.

*Note: In order to protect the security of your account, the complete address is not listed above.

If you did not request this address update, please call us immediately using the number on the back of your Card.

Thank you for your Card Membership.

American Express Customer Care”

My faith in large corporations remains unshaken. As you can make out, their processes are pretty strong and can be repeated endlessly, even if there is no need for them. Once again, they seem to have pressed the air out of my address in order to protect the security of my account.

But I am in a quandary.

Does this qualify as a request that I made?

Should I call back immediately?

Have I just caused the initiation of an endless loop?

34 thoughts on “You Asked For It

    • Yet another mistaken belief that it aids customer service. My interaction with automated voice or chat systems invariably ends with it asking me “Do you want to connect to a human?” We can save everyone needless heartburn by directly going to that step. Though I must stay, that many times after reaching the human I end up wishing back for the BOT.

  1. I received these emails all the time. Except they are usually from companies with which I have never been affiliated! Phishing scams are rampant these day! Mermaids are very adept at spotting phishing scams. 😉 I’m not sure which is worse; the customer service agents who only speak “endless loop” or the bots!

    • Ha ha! Now I know where to turn for help when I face a phishing scam 🙂
      Both are designed to make the other one look good 😦
      You better stay in line and buy a new product instead of stepping out and seeking service. You will be trampled by the commercial juggernaut.

  2. At first, I thought the two addresses were identical. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the corporate world becomes more and more bizarre sending out totally useless information to their customers. But as I read on I realized that the n in your address had been changed incorrectly to m. What a waste of time and energy to correct the error!

    • You see how smart they are; they know the diff between N and M and change one to the other without any provocation or need, and then change it right back. Bet you can’t do any such thing, at least not without provocation or need.

    • It first tells me it has looked up my account based on the number I am calling from. Then it asks me to punch in the last few digits of my Card. What exactly was the point in saying it had looked up my account? It could have asked for my Card number without that statement. It was like cocking a snook at me and saying “I know your account but wont tell you anything unless you give me some money.” Strange are the ways of the corporate world.

  3. Oh how I love the endless loop! Just before I opened your post I got off the phone with Blue Cross Blue Shield-IL. I had just been denied an insurance policy for health care. I had openly provided all the information they asked for and told them I do not have the all important Social Security number they needed. They accepted the application anyway. I then received a letter confirming that they were processing my application. I needed to provide two things: 1. $890.85, and 2. A letter from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirming that I am not eligible for Medicare coverage. I decided to play their game. A call to CMS directed me to Social Security who administers Medicare. Social Security would not even send a rejection to my request without providing a Social Security number.
    I called Blue Cross Blue Shield to determine why I was rejected. They told me to re-apply. Fun and games in the Corporate world. All of their systems work great if the customer fits every metric that their algorithm can handle, but if not the customer gets the royal shaft.
    This is the direct result of the Government implementing Obama-Care. which was invented to open health care to everyone.
    Thanks for a great post exposing a world-wide policy of stupidity.

  4. If it’s an automated process, you should expect a daily update of your address back from Gurgaon to Gurgaom.
    And if you don’t keep calling back to change it back, I suspect that the process will keep changing one letter at a time (I mean, what’s one letter? surely the mailman will figure it out) until the address is changed to somewhere on Scammers avenue, Lagos, Nigeria.

  5. I never use American Express when buying products. It’s the same as cash and unless the seller is of the utmost integrity you’ll seldom get your money back for faulty products I use a regular credit card or PayPal or other purchase avenues with refund and return protocols. In phishing scams, they always demand American Express. It’s cash. They have yours. You’re not getting it back. You’ve been had.

    • It’s an endless cat and mouse game. Scamsters are upping their game all the time. Mobile linked wallets have become popular here because everyone has a mobile. Increases the options for scamsters 🙂

  6. Dear Ankur

    Many thanks for your post. My wife and I went out for lunch last week. They only took cards for some reason and no cash which annoys me although I don’t object to using cards as such. I will not borrow to pay on the never never as they used to say.

    However, this restaurant did NOT accept American Express. Do you think this is significant?

    Kind regards

    Baldmichael

    • Dear Baldmichael, you should note that it is never too late to do a KYC, since it adds zero value to both the doer and the doee. Hence, an American Express KYC can be done even if the doee neither holds an AmEx card not accepts it. Once you do the KYC, you can expect that you will stop being an American Express cardholder. The AmEx KYC process is famous for it. After that, you can go to the restaurant in an endless loop without having to worry about American Express.

      • Many thanks. I have never had Amex card, but I note these things. I worked in Brighton, Sussex for many years where there is an ugly monster of a building spoiling the skyline.

        I see on checking just now that Blackrock and Vanguard own shares in it. These are George Soros groups. What a surprise, I don’t think!

  7. Amex charges considerably more to small businesses than Visa or Mastercard. If the business profit margin is high enough, and they fear losing custom, they’ll swallow the difference. If Amex is not accepted, it’s a good clue that you might be getting a good deal, or vice versa.

    • Yes, it could be a clue that the merchant’s pricing is so sharp that they don’t have the scope to pay the AmEx commission out of it. Hope you ate to your heart’s content 🙂

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