Leaving an office building restroom the other day, I saw something gold on the floor. That’s weird, I said to myself. How did my American Express card end up there?
Except it wasn’t my card. It had someone else’s name. And it was a business credit card, with the company’s name listed too.
The normal procedure — normal, that is, if you’re not a crook — is to hunt down the cardholder, ask a few questions to make sure it’s theirs, and return it. But the name on this card was absurdly generic — let’s say, “Susan Smith.”
After thinking to myself “Wow, I knew a ‘Susan Smith’ in high school,” I figured I’d contact the company. I’d never heard of it, but it had “Entertainment” in the name, so I assumed it was a small local business.
It’s not. It’s a large firm, based in California. The website had no directory of executives, and an extensive search of the site didn’t help.
On to Facebook. Of course, there are a squintillion Susan Smiths — black, white, young, old, gorgeous, not — but none from around here or with an entertainment profile.
Next up: Google. “Susan Smith” plus the company name brought no exact matches. But the top link was to a Susan Smith’s LinkedIn profile. She worked in the entertainment field, for a media firm.
I’m on LinkedIn — though I haven’t figured out why — so I sent Susan Smith a message. “Did you lose your Amex card today?” I asked. “If so, tell me where, what color, and what the business name is.”
But that was a long shot. If I were Susan Smith I’d probably be freaking about my lost card. So I called American Express, to say I’d found it, and all was well.
Easier said than done. The recorded AmEx voice asked me to say “my” card number. “Mine” was Susan’s — no problem.
But then I had to answer the security question: something about
my her elementary school. I was stumped, but I got a 2nd chance: the last 4 digits of my her Social Security number.
After passive-aggressively informing me that she could not hear my response, the voice gave me a set of options. None, of course, resembled “speak to a customer service representative.”
So I did what I always do in such circumstances: I yelled into the phone, “I just want to talk to a f—ing person!”
“Sorry!” she chirped. “I did not understand that request.”
Punching in several not-what-I-wanted prompts — “Membership Rewards” was one, I think — finally got me to “talk with a customer service representative.”
Sort of. I waited on hold for a while — surprise! — until finally a helpful woman without an Indian accident — another surprise! — greeted me warmly.
I’ve long ago learned that it’s not her fault her company’s phone tree sucks. So I explained what happened. She told me to destroy the card, and thanked me for my help. That was that!
But I had to convey my frustration, so I told her my story.
She apologized on behalf of American Express’s tens of thousands of employees, and said: “Just so you know, sir, in the future you can punch ‘zero-pound-zero-pound’ any time. That will take you straight to customer service!”
How simple! Silly me! Why hadn’t I thought of that?
PS: The next morning, “Susan” emailed me back. She’d gotten my LinkedIn message. She was the one whose card was lost. She thanked me profusely.
And she added that yes indeed, she was the Susan Smith who had been in my class back in the day at Staples.