Our piece the other day about the complaints of a holder of American Express Centurion Card - the so-called Black Card - has attracted a surprising reaction from other dissatisfied cardholders.
A recurring theme in the e-mails we received was that service has deteriorated in recent years, the Centurion Card is not worth the HK$19,800 annual fee, and certainly not the new fee of HK$38,000.
Cardholders seemed particularly irked at the suggestion by Amex that the case we reported earlier was a one-off case.
"I am outraged that Amex said the slow call centre service was a one-off. I had the same experience last night. And it was not the first time," wrote one reader, adding that since she paid HK$19,800 for the service, she does not expect to wait, let alone the proposed new charge of HK$38,000.
A former cardholder wrote that he gave up his Centurion card when the fees rose from HK$8,500 to HK$19,800 some years ago. He selected the HK$5,500 Platinum card instead because it offered travel insurance, well, up to a point.
He recounted how his wife was pickpocketed in Paris and the thief ran up a large bill buying opera tickets. Amex covered those charges and cancelled the card and gave a replacement. It paid for the cost of replacing her identity card and driving licence but declined to cover the cash that was stolen, arguing that pickpocketing is not covered for cash loss, but only theft is. The difference, according to Amex, is that theft was only when you saw your thief and he threatened physical harm.
Our reader has now dropped his Platinum card.
Another Centurion holder wrote: "The lengthy wait for 'travel services' is not rare, and if one is successful in speaking to an agent, the level of service is so wildly inconsistent that Amex's assistance becomes a hazard rather than a benefit.
"The airline ticket prices they offer are easily beaten with a quick web search, largely defeating the purpose of using a travel agent, and Amex has for months been slashing all manner of services and benefits (fast track, Marco Polo status, et al) for Centurion members.
"For the company to now double its already unconscionably high annual fee is the height of arrogance."
Commenting on the evident dissatisfaction from some Centurion members, Amex said: "We are committed to maintaining a high standard of customer service and ensure we service all our customers well. We are dedicated to upholding our service standard, and in fact place a lot of focus and efforts on an ongoing basis to achieve this."
Amex added that its call centre was awarded the Gold award of the Inbound Contact Centre of the Year in 2012 by Hong Kong Call Centre Association. "We take customers' feedback and comment very seriously. That's how we are able to continue to improve our service to meet customers' needs."
US$200,000 to fight cancer
The Karen Leung Memorial Investor Conference to Support Women's Cancer Research and Treatments raised almost US$200,000 yesterday at what was its inaugural event.
The aim of the event, held at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, was to raise awareness and funds to prevent and treat women's gynaecological cancers. It was supported by some of the most experienced and successful managers of long-only, hedge fund and private equity portfolios who each presented investment ideas at the conference to portfolio managers, asset allocators and other investment professionals from across the region.
Karen Leung was an equity and derivative trading professional, who worked for Oasis Management, first in its Tokyo office and then later in Hong Kong, She died in October last year after contracting cervical cancer. Before she died, it was her wish to educate and spread awareness in Hong Kong about gynaecological cancers, and to provide women access to breakthrough research and treatment options being developed in the US.
The Karen Leung Memorial Foundation aims to make her wish a reality by working closely with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in the US and Hong Kong oncologists and cancer societies to identify and educate gynaecological cancer patients and their families in the region.