I lost my Amex Blue card at JFK last weekend, and when I called to report it I was told a replacement would be issued in “about 20 days”. The following conversation ensued:
Me: 20 days? (the American Express tag line is “the only card you’ll ever need”) My other Amex cards arrive in 24 hours when replaced.
Amex: The Blue card has a special chip inside that takes longer to produce.
Me: What purpose does the chip serve?
Amex: It provides you with greater security for online transactions, sir.
Me: But when I order online, I type my credit card number into a form, so how does a chip, which the computer never comes in contact with..
Amex: It’s for online security. Is there anything else I can help you with today, sir?
Me: Yes. You can help me understand how a chip embedded in a credit card, a card that is not inserted into anything, makes any difference.
Amex: Sir, I’ve already explained that the chip is for enhanced security purposes when making purchases online. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
Me: Is there any way to get a replacement card sooner?
Amex: We can send you a temporary card tomorrow morning.
Me: What is temporary about it?
Amex: It doesn’t have the chip.
Me: Should I use it to make purchases on the Internet?
Amex: That’s up to you sir.
Intrigued, I called the application line for Amex Blue. The very nice woman asked me if i had any questions about the card before applying..
Me: What’s the chip for?
Amex: It’s for enhanced security online.
Me: How so?
Amex: (giggling)They don’t tell us that.
The Blue card is the only Amex card with a limit, meaning that its theft causes the least damage of all Amex cards, yet it is the lone card with the “enhanced security chip”.
The Blue chip is causing damage to the American Express brand on several levels:
1. 20 day delay is the opposite of the brand positioning they have carefully built
2. lack of a script they have equipped their employees with doesn’t inspire confidence
3. the chip comes off as a silly marketing ploy that only serves to inconvenience customers
American Express needs to either create a well defined and logical explanation of the benefit of the Blue card’s unique on-board microprocessor, or cash this chip in.