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She Wore Blue Plastic
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I am apparently infected with some sort of American Express virus, because my life has been revolving around that company for a few days now. While shopping at two of my most-frequented establishments – CVS and Wawa (which is sort of like 7-11 without the filth on the floor or the fascist agenda) – I’ve noticed that they have devices that can be used for “contactless” credit cards (you’d think the credit card industry would have come up with a simpler/sexier name for that by now). This allows you to wave your credit card near this reader and not have to hand it to the cashier or swipe it.

After checking the AmEx website, it appeared that my Blue card could be equipped with this technology, but I’d have to get a new version of the card that has the ExpressPay feature built into its little on-board chip. I was up relatively early this morning and called the number on the back of my card, which is what the website instructed me to do. Here’s the conversation once I reached a representative:

AmEx: Hello, this is Eric. How may I help you? [Your name may say “Eric”, but your voice says downtown Bangalore, India.]
Me: I’d like to get a new Blue card with the ExpressPay feature.
Eric: Sure. The perfect card for you will be the Starwood Preferred Guest card with the ExpressCash feature.
Me: No thank you, I really just want a new Blue card issued that has ExpressPay on it.
Eric: Certainly. (sounds of keys clicking desperately) It appears that you already have the ExpressCash feature on your Blue card. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Me: I don’t want ExpressCash, I want ExpressPay.
Eric: Of course. So you want to pay your bills online? I can help with that. Let me get that set up for you now. (more key clickage)
Me: No, not online bill payment. ExpressPay. The thing where you wave your card at the thingie and you pay for your stuff? [I am reduced to inarticulateness in the face of this astounding lack of understanding.]
Eric: So you need a new PIN number? I can have one sent to you in ten business days.
Me: I don’t need nor want a new PIN. My current PIN is just fine. I just want a new card with a new chip that contains the ExpressPay feature.
Eric: So you want a new card? I’ll have to talk with our Card Replacement Department. Let me put you on hold for just one minute.

[Fuzzy Muzak plays for about 5 minutes.]

Eric:Sorry for the delay. Our Card Replacement Department says that you already have that feature on your card.
Me: I tried waving my card at the reader and nothing happened.
Eric: Ok. [sounding very nervous as if he knows this call is being recorded as an example of how not to deal with a customer.] Let me call the Card Replacement Department again. Hold, please.

[More static-y Christmas Muzak]

AmEx: This is Julie from the Card Replacement Department. You should already have ExpressPay on your card. (Julie sounds like she might be from Georgia. In the US, not The Republic Of.)
Me: Maybe I should, but I don’t. This card was issued back in the technological dark ages before there were magnetic strips and clerks had to put the card into a plastic frame that made a CA-CHUNK noise when the card’s numbers were impressed on a piece of carbonized paper which doesn’t even exist anymore and they had to look up every card number in a large paper booklet the size of the IRS Tax Code to see if your card had been stolen and they would ask for three pieces of ID and then MAYBE they would let you charge your purchase so this was for sure before you could just wave your card in the general direction of the cash register or Point-of-Sale device as they’re now called and create enough debt to destabilize a small country, so NO I DON’T HAVE THE DAMN EXPRESSPAY FEATURE ON THIS CARD. [I may have embellished this last tirade a bit.]
Julie: Ok. I’ll get that right out to you within the next ten business days. Is there anything else we drones here at American Express can help you with today? Another card to push you further toward the bankruptcy event horizon? We have a new one where you can earn rewards that contribute to Donald Rumsfeld’s retirement fund.
Me: I give up. Just send me one of every card you make. Make sure to include one that has Dick Cheney’s face on it so I can at least get the satisfaction of running it through the shredder.

The End

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