I have enclosed a letter (below)we sent to American express. i did re type it in brief but unforutnaly this window lost my previous message & it took me 20 mins soo sorry all, but if anyone can spare the time to read it, it basiclly states how we went to Florida last yr, lost travellers chqs & even tho we had all the ID etc we couldnt get them replaced. any suggestions please as we did have ombusman helping but they now say they cant due to american express not been part of the FSA, however they do suggest we take this further with a solicitor under various avenues, mostly mis representation !help. many thanks....
On 11/09/2006 we took our family on our dream holiday to Florida. As the majority of people we purchased Travellers cheques believing, as everyone, that if they were lost or stolen, it would be an easy process to have them replaced with the relevant documentation. As the company states, in majority of cases they are replaced within 24 hours. To our horror we realised we had lost or had our travellers cheques or had them stolen, as nothing else was missing, we presumed them to be lost or left behind in UK. Either way we could not be sure. We immediately contact American Express via the claim line. After 20 minutes we finally got through to a call centre person. Unfortunately even though we are English & speak English & the call centre person was English speaking we could not be understood.We gave him all the relevant information including the cheque numbers & were reassured that they would now be void with immediate effect & that our case would now go to review before we could be refunded. We tried to explain we had little currency & that we would need the replacement pretty soon but this seemed to no avail, at this point we assumed this was just normal procedure but were reassured that he would stress our urgency for a replacement.
it took us 3 days spedning all our time on the phone or in the amex office to get an answer & promised replacment. instead nothin !
In desperation we asked if there was an American Express office local vicinity so we could go in person, as it happens there was an office in Orlando, Once we explained the situation & providing her with additional ID, passport, driving licence & travellers cheque numbers/ receipt, she could see our distress & couldn’t understand why they had not been replaced & proceeded to contact the travellers cheque call centre on our behalf. No difference to our calls, it still took Mrs Rawls half hour to get through just to be able to leave a contact number of the office for Anna to contact her/ us. We sat in the office for over another hour, again with 2 hungry & bored children who although had been on holiday for over 2 days had not yet seen any characters or rides due to us still trying to get in contact with Anna.
We finally got a call from Anna, whereby she asked us various security questions which we were happy to answer, until at one point the discussion started to become heated as Anna said that we were irresponsible to have mislaid them, & they were our responsibility, we already knew this & was already regretting not been more cautious, however Anna couldn’t understand why we hadn’t bought our credit card with us, & the tone in her voice made me feel like not only was she calling me a liar but also a thief as well.
I stormed out of the office at this stage giving the phone to my girlfriend; we were in disbelief that someone from a reputable company like yours could talk to customers in such a manner. I certainly was not going to lower myself to arguing with someone of this nature. It was at this point Mrs Rawls intervened, asking Anna if it was right to ask such questions of a customer, who she could clearly see was in a great deal of distress due to her attitude & general conduct of this investigation. Anna at this stage faxed a form for us to fill in. This again took half an hour to receive. Mrs Rawls immediately faxed the filled out form & sent a copy of my passport, driving licence & purchase record. We remained seated in the office again for several hours waiting for Anna to reply to the fax we sent. We left & arranged to contact Mrs Rawls at the office later in the day so we could try & start our holiday as we were getting so frustrated at waiting around all the time with our children bless, whom as you can imagine were obviously becoming increasingly agitated & bored. We called the office later in the day but unfortunately Mrs Rawls had not received any calls or further contact from Anna as promised.
We returned to the hotel that evening to have a message from Anna. Great, finally resolved. But no, the message just asked us to contact her. This was becoming ridiculous, she knows the problems we have getting in contact, surely she could have left a message been more specific or with the office.
The following morning, 14/09/06 we returned to the office once again, hoping this unfortunate series of events would be bought to a close, especially as we now had no money at all to feed our 2 totally fed up, hungry children, not to mention the fact that my girlfriend & I had a major argument due to this situation, which could have all been cleared up instead we were now wasting our 3rd day of our holiday. My girlfriend suffers from sever chronic brittle asthma & registered disabled due to her illness which has many triggers, one of which is stress been a major trigger. Hence she was having a really difficult time throughout all this & had to continually carry her nebuliser around with her throughout all this on going stress. As it was It had now taken 2 hours before we managed to get to speak with Anna yet again, the staff in the office did their best to get through, when finally they did, Anna still wanted questions answering from what she had asked the previous day, which we had fully co-operated with & answered fully. Again the frustration became too much giving my girlfriend the phone again, I just could not speak to this woman. My girlfriend tried to find out actually why the cheques couldn’t be replaced, explaining that we didn’t have any money left to feed our children, let alone petrol or park tickets. Sadly this didn’t make any difference, we were told that there was nothing Anna could do & we would have to wait until back in the UK before she was able to bring this matter to a conclusion.
Mrs Rawls was astounded that not only had we wasted days of our holidays & had to put up with so much stress & upset caused by not only the situation but also made much worse by Anna & the time it was taking to have an answer or replacement, that she offered to get us an emergency American Express credit card made up to get us out of difficulty, as we had explained my amec blue card had expired the end of August & a replacement one hadn’t been received before we came away. If it is so easy to replace a credit card, how is it so hard to replace $350 of travellers cheques? Why is it the staff in the American Express office were helpful & understanding through-out this whole episode. They were totally professional.
Whereby the staff in the call centre were completely the opposite? The fact we had 2 young children & no money didn’t seem to matter.
This whole episode ruined our 1st trip to the USA, putting tremendous strain on our relationship, with a black cloud over our holiday & meaning we couldn’t do all the planned trips, eg we were unable to buy the attraction tickets we wanted, not to mention the every day things like food. Luckily I get paid weekly & therefore received a wage into the 2nd week of our holiday that meant we were able to try & make the most of our remaining holiday, should we been paid in full before the holiday the majority of our money would have been in travellers cheque, this does not bare thinking about. However for 36 hours we had nothing & if it wasn’t for the fact that other guests from our hotel learned of our misfortune & gave us some money to feed ourselves. Have you any idea how it feels to accept charity from strangers? The fact that before this act of kindness we were making enquiries into location of pawn brokers to sell our video camcorder & digital camera if our worst fears was to happen.
We are still at a loss as to why the cheques couldn’t be replaced as was Mrs Rawls after we had produced my passport, drivers licence & purchase record along with the dire need of our situation, we can only assume that it was a personal decision by the staff concerned not to replace the travellers cheques. A decision that has had severe consequences. If not so serious we would almost laugh at the advert your company has with Mr Bean on a beach, explaining how it is the safest way to travel & that you replace them if lost or stolen. This was far from a laughing matter.
We do not consider these to be the actions of such a prestigious company as American Express, a firm that prides itself in its customer service & actions of its employees.
On returning to the UK, we found that we had left the travellers cheques behind on the dinning table & have since remunerated for them, however we are still very upset about the treatment we received from your company, We were made to feel like thieves, liars not to mention the strain on our relationship & the health of my girlfriend which could have had far worse consequences. It could be argued that it was breach of contract &/or misrepresentation on the behalf of American Express, but to be honest that’s secondary to the fact that it ruined our dream holiday, our 1st visit to the USA for all our family