American Express Concierge and Restaurants
One of the best experiences I’ve had with American Express Concierge service was early in 2011 when spending a few days in Kansas City for my wife’s birthday. On a whim, we decided to visit the Country Club Plaza and noticed a restaurant called Fugo de Chao. It is a place where they bring skewers of meat around through the dining area and cut off pieces at your table. My wife had been to one of their restaurants as a teenager in Brazil and had very fond memories. Unfortunately we were told that there was a 2 to 3 hour wait for “walk-ins”. The staff suggested that we get our name on the list and check back in two hours to get a pager. We weren’t planning on staying that longer at the plaza, so we left our name and left disappointed.
We walked to a nearby store and I decided to give the American Express Concierge a try. They advertise that they can help get you in to popular restaurants. I got a friendly concierge, explained that we were on a two to three hour wait for Fugo de Chao at the Plaza in Kansas City and wondered if she could do anything to get us in any sooner. She asked when we would like to eat and I told her “as soon as seats are available.” She put me on hold for 5 or 10 minutes and came back on the line.
“I’ve just spoken to the manager and they have a table ready for you right now.”
I thanked her and we hurried back to Fugo de Chao. I went to the hostess who had just told me there would be a two to three hour wait, gave her my name again and started to explain, but said, “Oh we have a table for you” and whisked us away to our seats.
I don’t really know what the concierge did, but we were certainly impressed. The question is whether or not she did anything we couldn’t have done on our own. I suppose I could have called, asked for the manager, and explained that we were in town celebrating my wife’s birthday and we’d really like to eat their if they could squeeze us in. That might have worked. However, it is probably easier to get a hold of the manager if someone calls and says they are with American Express then if I call and say, “I’m some guy on the waiting list.”
AmEx concierge may have some leverage or other agreements that I’m not aware of. In particular, I know that they make recommendations for restaurants so there may be a certain amount of “you move our customers to the front of the line and we’ll recommend you to others” going on.
Amex Concierge as a Virtual Assistant
In my quest to find a remote executive assistant, I decided to give American Express’ concierge service a try. If you have a Platinum or higher card, AmEx offers a concierge service. Basically you call or email them a request and they will get back to you–usually within three days. If you need to buy something (from a place that takes American Express) they can make the purchase and put the charges on your card.
AmEx gives some pretty interesting examples of concierge things they have done. One that stuck out to me was sending someone on a motorcycle to the Dead Sea to collect some water for a card holder’s child’s science experiment.
The concierge services are actually handled by a company called Circles. Circles concierge service is something that companies can provide as a value added option for clients or for their employees.
So here is one of my interactions with them:
I am going to be in Tulsa, OK this Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Could you find a local Volkswagen dealer and schedule my car for a tune-up and oil change on Saturday morning? The earlier the better. I will drop the car off and get a ride with a friend. I will be staying near XXXX S. Lewis in Tulsa so if there are multiple dealers start with the closest.
My car is a 2003 Passat Wagon.
xxx-xxx-xxxx – mobile
I thought I had covered all the bases, but evidently not:
Dear Mr. Shead,
Thanks for using American Express Concierge! I understand from your email that you are looking to schedule a tune-up at a Volkswagen dealer in Tulsa. Below you will find the address for Brad Noe Volkswagen dealer and the web address where you can request an appointment. I did not release your personal information, as I did not have your permission.
Name: Brad Noe Volkswagen
Address: 4240 South Memorial Drive Tulsa, OK 74145
Phone: (918) 712-8989
If you would like for me to schedule the appointment on your behalf, please don’t hesitate to contact Concierge. I’d be more than happy to do so with your permission. Concierge is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to secure dining reservations or Valentine flower orders at your convenience. I hope you have a great afternoon and I look forward to assisting you again soon.
Ok I’ll try again:
Yes I wanted you to schedule the appointment per my instructions in the original message. I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear. You can give them the necessary information for setting the appointment.
And their reply:
Once again, thanks for using American Express Concierge. I was able contact Brad Noe Volkswagen in Tulsa. Unfortunately, they are unable to schedule a tune-up and oil change on Saturday. They are fully committed and the first available appointment would be Monday or Tuesday. I realize you will be out-of-town by this time, so I did look for other VW dealers in the area. These would be located quite a distance away in Lawton or Oklahoma City. I do apologize for the inconvenience and would be more than happy to research reputable mechanics in Tulsa at your request. Concierge is available by phone or email, if I can provide any additional conveniences. I hope you have a wonderful weekend in Tulsa.
This isn’t necessarily their fault, but it underscores the need to be very clear when explaining exactly what you want. It is entirely possible that the service was booked up when I sent my first request. I might have had better luck calling the service instead of emailing. AmEx kind of implies that the Circles concierge will be able to do things that you can’t do on your own (like get you reservations at fully booked restaurants), but I’m guessing that isn’t the case–unless they have some type of prior arrangement with the business.
It also looks like they might be a bit more useful for Valentine’s gifts or similar purchases, since they keep offering to do that in their email messages.
“I am guessing you have never worked in a call center, and or you are very young.”
wow i have worked in so many other call centres andi have never ever worked some where that was as fake as that place
Mark Smith says
I had an Amex Platinum Card for about a year. Last year I decided not to renew it as I was so unimpressed with the concierge service.
I had so many bad experience with them, they were sending me points cards to spend to compensate me for my troubles. At this point I had Jennifer [last name removed] who was aparently a Centurion concierge Manager CC’d on all my requests. After that, I still had problems.
I had ordered 1 weeek in advance a Valentines gift for my wife. Guess what? It never got ordered by Circles coniege.
Requested car rental info, never got it.
Asked for a dry cleaner close to my residence, after 20 minutes with the girl on the phone spouting off places all over Toronto, I went to 411.ca, oy yellowpages and did a proximity search for a dry cleaners. I found one right around the corner in 1 minute while on the phone with her.
Try to make reservations at an exclusive place for dinner? even a week in advance? That whole reserved table for Amex card holders is a another load of crap.
I recently for a Visa Infinite with RBC, and it is exactly the same as an Amex Platinum card, but the insurances and the concierge is was better!!!
I have found Amex to be a card for people who need to show off to others and say LOOK AT ME!!! I have good credit and pay my bills timely. Other than that, most places ask if you have another card like Visa or Mastercard and would rather not accept the Amex.
$400.00 per year for a card that many places don’t take.
By the way I know people who are really wealthy and travel about 10 times a year abroad. They have Visa cards with a $50,000 limit and that seems to get them through. How many times do you find yourself on vacation and want to buy something on a credit card that is $100,000+?
That’s my 2 cents.
The place is poorly managed, thats why you don’t get what you are asking for. The employees are poorly trained by unprofessional trainers. Its like a circus. They focus on the wrong things. Employees are stressed to the max, becasue they dont know how to do things properly, becasu they were not trained or supported correctly. I remember taking up smoking when I worked there, it was really that bad. the manegers pick at you rather than back you up.. the learning curve that they go on about that they use doesnt really exhist.
so yes these things are easier done by your self.
To be fair, AMEX held tables would have a limit. Just because you have an amex card and tried to get a table doesn’t mean you were the first person with a card to try and get that same table. It’s typically 2 or 3 tables max.
The worlds top restaurants typically book out 4 months or MORE in advance, a week in advance is nothing to these establishments and I can guarantee you when your concierge rep tried to make that reservation, they were laughed at by the restaurants hostess.
Former concierge employee says
Hey Mark Smith,
Just thought I would throw out there that Jen [last name removed] was my Centurion Manager and I was one of the few people that knew what I was doing and never had a single card holder complain. Jen never helped when help was needed. I had a card member call in because someone had messed up his entire travel plan to Italy and France. It wasn’t against me, but he demanded to speak to a manager. So in all fairness and to make sure he got what he wanted I went to Jen [last name removed]. She tells me to tell the customer she’s not in the office and she will call him back. Soooo I do as she says. He flips out even more which I don’t blame him. So I tell Jen. She literally got mad at me and made me feel like I wasn’t doing my job right. Guess what…. A few weeks later i’m fired because an email I sent to a customer seemed a little subliminal. (They wanted to get a facial at a hotel and I got it for them) so I sent a confirmation email and you all probably know what that looks like… ITS A TEMPLATE!!! how can I make it sexual and sublimal. Well I was fired for it anyways because it was so she said “sending a sexual message”. come on!!!… you tell me what you would do. Change the template they provide and make a new word for facial??? its a standard spa treatment!…. Either way. If you’re a Centurion card holder, I would recommend calling in and requesting her to be taken off the block. She talks about card holders that she dislikes and refuses to speak to irate customers if they want to speak to a manger and tries to send them to a resolutions specialist which is a concierge that has thick skin and can take being yelled at who by the way is NEVER in the office. So Jen [last name removed]=not fit to be a manager or concierge for that matter.
hey Former concierge employee,
i agree with u but i dont know what office you were at….but i didnt know who this manager was, but managers were terrible. they get you all hyped up over nothing….they tell you this is the best job you will ever have. not its not they do not train their employees properly at all. they try to cram about 3 months worth of info into 4 weeks. out of a class of 20 only 5 were left when i left. i knwo that they are trying to be the best conserige out there but they basically tell us for the the beginning that we are last on the agenda, but they make it seem like we are first. ……they have good intentions but they need to move on with a new plan. they say they are a “learning organization”….well i think they need to do soem improvemenets befor ethey do this!
I have some confusions about the travel and concierge processes for the Centurion card. I think that AMEX has outsourced the concierge process in US and Canada to Circles and they themselves handle concierge services for the other regions where the Centurion card is available. As for the travel services linked to the card they handle them themselves thoroughout the world. Can anyone confirm this?
I work for a concierge company in the APac region and I agree with meena about managers being terrible! I guess since the key proposition of concierge companies is that they’ll get you the world for a price, the pressure of actually delivering it is a huge challenge.
A major part of that challenge is the back end operations. For a bank to own and operate a concierge is expensive hence most of them outsource or partner with specialist firms. For example; Circles running the concierge service for Amex. The latter has to rely on the capabilities of the former that has limited geographical presence (Circles is present only in US and Canada). For other regions, especially APac, Amex has outsourced to concierge companies in the region, as they would have better capabilities in getting a request done.
Coordinating various vendors and matching them with requests is a huge challenge; add to that the probability of really being unable to fulfill the request (we get some very crazy requests!). There are bound to be managers who would avoid calls/emails leading to customer complaints.
I’m not defending the industry, just pointing out a flaw in the service model.
Current Circles employee says
I am a current Circles Platinum employee. Things that contribute to the poor attitude: Eevery two hours you get a report, and a conversation with your Team Leader about: how many calls per hour you took; how many SRs you opened/closed per call and per hour; how many SECONDS you spent in “after-call; what percentage of your calls resulted in “spend”; someone can be, and is, listening to your calls and scoring you (a score of less than 75% fails) and the score has nothing at all to do with customer satisfaction but only to do with verbiage. They want us to chat up the caller to “probe” for more ways to “upservice” the call (add on more SRs) but we have to constantly be aware that anything we say is measured and judged by some unknown listener.
I have never been so monitored or controlled in all my 25 years as a working adult.
They say they want to be “an employer of choice” and then set about to constantly prove that a lie.
This is with reference to Lily’s post on AMEX outsourcing its concierge services to companies in APAC.
According to the information I have, they have outsourced their concierge services only in US & Canada.
Current Centurion Concierge says
This is how the Concierge outsourcing works:
INSIDE THE UNITED STATES:
If the card holder has a billing address in the United States, they call into one main number (877-877-0987) and speaks with a Concierge.
The Concierge representative is employed by a company called Circles.
Circles has three offices: one in Boston, MA, one in Chelmsford, MA, and one in Burlington, Ontario. Therefore, the call will be routed to one of these three offices.
OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES:
If the card holder has a billing address in any other country, they call in to something called “Lifestyles.” There are many different “Lifestyles” offices (Lifestyles UK, Lifestyles France, Lifestyles Tel Aviv, etc…) and you call into the office where your billing address is.
Now, if the cardmember has a request that relates to their home country, then that Lifestyles team will assist them (example: someone in France wants reservations in Paris, so Cardmember calls Lifestyles France and Lifestyles France takes care of it)
If the cardmember has a request that relates to any other country EXCLUDING THE UNITED STATES, then the Lifestyles rep will transfer it to the appropriate Lifestyles Team (example: cardmember in France wants dining reservations in Tel Aviv… so Cardmember calls in to Lifestyles France, and Lifestyles France will contact Lifestyles Tel Aviv)
Finally, if the cardmember has a request that relates to the United States, then the Lifestyles Team will contact the US Concierge (example: cardmember living in France wants dining reservations in NYC…. cardmember would call Lifestyles France and Lifestyles France would contact the US Concierge)
and just FYI… if a US cardmember wants anything anywhere in the world, the US Concierge takes care of it, we don’t transfer anything to Lifestyles.
excuse me and excuse my language, but circles you suck when it comes to employees treatment you get a BIG zero., not to mention your really fake in so many other cheap ways.
Circles just cut 25% From AMEX.
Just came accross this post when I heard Circles had shut down the entire Boston office and went on a spree of layoffs. I can’t confirm how true this is though.
To be honest, I understand where meena is coming from. The objective of Circles is to make life better for others, but they seem to make life worse for there employees. You need to help yourself before you can help someone else. I’m sure eventually the lack of care for employees caught up. The turnover rate was insane there. Managers didn’t care which lead me to believe the owners didn’t either. As long as the money was rolling in, they were happy.
They wanted us to “up service” clients to wow them but pressured us so hard and made us fear for our jobs so much that eventually “up servicing” to ensure great customer service turned into irrellivant up selling to add $$$ into the executives pockets.
In terms of fake, So correct.
Why not just tell customers, we use ticket master, we use sites and means of fullfulling requests in the same ways you can. There is still value in concierge as a “I don’t have the time” or “Can you help me?” tool. I’ve seen people get ripped a new one when a customer found out they lost tickets because they called concierge, waited on hold for 10 minutes to be told tickets are sold out when the 10 to 15 minutes they spent calling, they could have logged on to ticketmaster themselves or called the resturant themselves.
I’m not knocking Circles entirely, the service is great and some employees put in great pride and care to fulfull customer requests, but at the same time, managment consisted of people who moved up from a lower position only because the avoided Trumps famous words. Then these people feel they are above the world and can become careless and eat/chat rather than support the employees they manage.
I’ve had too many occassions of staff faults that caused irrate customers where the customer demanded a manger. No big deal, accidents happen, staff mess up everywhere, but when a manager says, “Tell them I’m not available” and takes a bite of her sandwich and gets back to playing a game of Solitaire, I think there is something to be concerned about. And the managment/hr friendship setup left no room for complaints, because if you complained about Sadaam or Hitler… End of the road for you.
I can say, I was dismissed there on understandable terms since my car was stolen and while I tried to handle that situation and find a new car, I was having a hard time getting to Circles due to location. I asked for some consideration, was told I could arrive late if need be since the transit schedule in developing Burlington is either arrive 2 hours early or 5 minutes late. But after a few lates, I was given the boot. A little back stabbing if you ask me, but hey, now my career is on a way better path than the person that got me canned.
I almost wish at times, I could manage a part of Circles and make some changes to ensure a lower turnover rate and better service in result, but I guess I jumped ship at a good time. Lucky me. And as soon as i’m done obtaining my business management diploma, I think I might even start a concierge service myself and be happy I learned what NOT to do from Circles.
I’m sure I can assemple a team of atleast 20 or more within a couple weeks.
AMEX…. Call me
Also…. I own my own business support company now. Sort of like a concierge for businesses. There are monthly subscriptions that allow a number of requests to unlimited requests. Requests being things like, setting dining/hotel reservations for employees, arranging travel, ordering supplies, sourcing services like photography, graphic design etc, Mailing, Promotional items. Almost like an office admin away from the office and costs less than the average salary of an office admin.
Those interested can contact me at [email protected]
Service is available. Website is in the building stages.
a differing opinion says
Interesting that people post and there is no response from Circles. Is this because what people are saying is crap and doesn’t deserve a response, or because it is true? Truth is probably in the middle.
Funny I never saw managers play solitaire or berate employees. I saw concern about stupid check ins, but when my bonus was kickass I was glad my TL managed me the way they did.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that it was sad people were let go but if you don’t work there anymore it may be time to move on. Me included.
I can admit some managers were amazing. My first manager in Platinum was the best. As soon as I was promoted to Centurion… disaster. As a company, Circles had amazing visions. It’s just those visions were not lived out correctly. I’m sure it’s hard on owners to be in 3 offices at once and see the faults in each office. I can say the Burlington office though, needed a little more visits by the executives to audit operations. I was there almost 3 years ago and from what I have heard, things havent changed too much. I remember an incident when I was in the lunch room and some guy was drenched in a bloody shirt and looked like he was dragged by a truck for miles or had just committed a murder (and it wasn’t halloween lol) but was just walking around like nothing was wrong. I don’t know if he got hit by a truck or something and he was super dedicated or what lol but I think most places would have sent the guy home to either get medical attention or clean up. Scary lol.
Another Circles Ex says
Sorry to sound rude and/or snobby, but the prevalence of spelling errors in previous posts is yet another testament to how underqualified many Circles employees are (a little surprising considering you had to uphold immortal standards to get a high enough QA average for a bonus).I graduated with honors from a top 50 school and used to joke that all you needed was a pulse to get hired at Circles. I have plenty of respect for certain former colleagues who were very bright and only lacked a degree due to financial obstacles and the like.I don’t really agree with the rants against managers. But Circles needs to screen employees more carefully.I fit in real well at Circles at first and like so many others, I felt more loyal to the AMEX cardholders themselves then the unsupportive senior staff. Circles hired me and many many others through a laughable and highly unprofessional Boston temp agency called PSG. So you know it’s bad when they trust another company defined by awkward 20-somethings who say “like” and “um” every other word to recruit on their behalf. You also know it’s bad when your fellow trainee unloads her “my mom was a negligent cokehead” baggage in the lunch room on day 1. Another trainee from my group was without a doubt on drugs. Another harassed me so thoroughly it drove me to quit when HR refused to discipline him. At the time, they were so focused on growth, in an effort to keep up with AMEX’ adverising of the concierge, they just didn’t care they were employing people who acted inappropriately. I, like many others, enjoyed the relatively laid-back work environment, but when I complained about the other employee harassing me the Hr girls said “well the line gets blurred here.” I can’t help thinking Karma’s getting them with the layoffs due to the economy. They encouraged us to read Perez Hilton, D-listed etc and embrace extravagance and shallow values.
Former Concierge says
First and foremost, I’d like to say that I am perfectly capable of speaking with customers in an intelligent fashion, despite the fact that I’m 25 years old and fall under the definition of the “idiotic concierge” described by Ex Circles Employee.
Second, even though I no longer work for the company, I have to say I am surprised at the amount of comments here that have absolutely nothing positive to say about their experience with American Express Concierge.
It’s true; it would have been nice if the representative had made the appointment on your behalf. But clearly, as they did not have your permission to provide the dealer with your personal information, they were being sensitive to the fact that perhaps you didn’t want them to release your charge card number to a third party. Personally, I would appreciate the gesture, as opposed to them assuming they are allowed to release such private information.
Furthermore, the people that I worked with at AmEx Concierge (for the most part) worked very hard, every day, to try and do exactly what the card holder requested. I myself had requested to receive calls on my days off or while I was on vacation to assist in completing my card holder’s requests, so that they were completed properly and to the card holder’s satisfaction. I used to work 14 hour days, so that I would be able to finish all of the requests that my card holders had asked for. One of my card holders sadly passed away, and I sent his family flowers that I paid for out of my own pocket, because I had worked so closely with all of them for over a year. If that is dedication, than I’m afraid I don’t know what is.
Undeniably, there are times when the concierge won’t be able to fulfill the request for you. I can’t even count the amount of times I had to tell a card holder I was not able to get them their dining reservation/theatre tickets/private yacht in the middle of Nevada. But that doesn’t mean that it is an invaluable service, or that it was a waste of your time to speak with them. If anything, your complaints (especially those of the current and former employees), do nothing but to belittle and devalue the people who actually try their best to do exactly what they are asked for, regardless of how outrageous or unreasonable.
They may not always be able to get you the moon, but they’ll work themselves to the bone trying to do just that, and all you had to do was ask. Perhaps a little leeway is in order?
amex platinum holder says
what is the e-mail address for the AMEX concierge?
I am a platinum card holder living in New Delhi, India, and was wondering if concierge can help with nightclub access in this city?
I’ve never had an issue with concierge but I also haven’t used it that many times. They were able to get me tickets to a U.S. Open event that was sold out this last year so I can’t complain. Yea, the $400 a year fee is pretty high but the main reason I pay for it is because of the free companion airfare if you fly 1st class internationally. Pretty easy to recoup that fee if you do fly out of the country.
Wanda Lust says
But really, is it that American Express oversells this service or do people really believe, as a survey showed, that we have “mystical” powers???
Any 14 yr old knows that ticketmaster or livenation are the major sellers of concert tickets and telecharge is the vendor for broadway shows. So why is it, really, that card members will spend 45 minutes on hold to talk to a Concierge to get Lady Gaga tickets when, by they time they get to us – the venue has sold out? Why couldn’t they have taken that time to go on ticketmaster.com or livenation.com and gotten their own tickets instead of listening to Muzak waiting for us?
And then they’re furious that we couldn’t get them tickets. Wake the heck up! We don’t have a magical way to get them. We call the ticket offices or go online just like you do!! And, nowadays with the sophistication of brokers and their abilities to score tickets and the bazillion people with computers who can manage to go to the sites themselves – venues sell out quite fast. Amazingly fast.
But the whining and gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes when we cannot get them the very sections they wanted ….
Yes, if Amex sponsors an event, we get a smattering of seats throughout the venue for our “pre-sale”. Here’s a secret. Whether it’s a pre-sale or a general sale – the better seats sell out first! Duh! And the Amex pre-sale only has SOME tickets.
And, in the computer age, they sell out in nano-seconds.
You want really good seats? Wait two weeks after the on-sale and then contact a broker; either through your Concierge or on your own.
But don’t blame us when you lack the ability to type in “ticketmaster.com” in your address bar and follow a few simple steps. If you want to wait on hold forever to be taken care of – accept the fact that you’re not only not going to get the seats you want but you may not get seats at all.
No, we aren’t “mystical”. We’re call center employees using the same toos you could use.
Oh, and the password for Amex seats is XXXXXXXXXX. [Removed at the request of Circles PR person.]
We can do wonderful things in helping you with vacation plans or making dining suggestions based on what kind of food/restaurant you’re looking for. We can suggest tours and send you calendars for your destination cities. We can find the best caterer for your event or help you create a memorable party but we dont’ have concert or theater tickets up our sleeves.
Like everyone else on the planet – we have to go to the sources that sell them and we have to do it when the sale starts and not 2 hours before!
Mark Shead says
I haven’t ever used them to try to buy tickets, but they do sell the concierge service as being able to get you into restaurants and events that you won’t be able to get into yourself.
I tried using them to find me a place to rent for 3 months in Mexico. Concierge tried passing me back and forth to several other departments and finally just sent me a link to a Mexican newspaper. Definitely not the same level of service that they tell about hiring someone to ride out on a motorcycle to the Dead Sea to get some sand to ship back for a member’s son’s school project.
Dis Gusted says
As a former Circles employee, I am fully aware of all the very real shortcomings – and there are many. However, American Express has hyped this service out of proportion and set completely unrealistic expectations for the users.
We do have Platinum Dining restaurants that save 1 or 2 tables a night at some of the best restaurants. It’s usually for a 6:30 seating for up to 4 people. No, we can’t change the time and we can’t get a larger table.
You can imagine how quickly that table gets taken by card members. A week in advance is NOT enough time to try to get this table. Be reasonable. Popular restaurants are popular and our one or two tables are surely going to go fast.
Restaurants have reservation rules. Some open their books 30 days in advance, some 60 days – some really, really hot ones open their books once a year. We have no control over their reservation process but we do have to honor it.
Tickets. It’s never a good idea to try to use Concierge for tickets to big events on the sale date (or pre-sale date). You would fare much better to use your own phone and computer to try to get into the ticket sellers (as described in someone’s comment above) rather than sit on hold waiting for us to assist. Tickets do sell out very quickly and while you’re waiting for Concierge to pick up your call, you could have been to the ticket website and been done. I don’t know why the password was edited out in a previous message. It’s not an industry secret and we used to tell callers how to do it all the time. The American Express password is XXXXXXXXXX. [Removed at Circle’s request] You ought to register online now as a ticketmaster user so that you don’t have to do it when you’re trying to purchase tickets under a 2 minute timer.
People yelled at us because we could not do the impossible (tickets to Wicked for tomorrow; dining at a top NYC spot tonight; same day delivery for flowers on a big holiday, etc). Some amount of sense and sensibility ought to apply. We are Concierges, not miracle workers. And we surely have no control over the policies and procuedures of the vendors we contact on your behalf.
However, the service has some inherent flaws that never do seem to get addressed and maybe it’s just endemic to call centers, which is where most of the Concierges come from. Call centers are never good employers and employees are treated no differently than if they were production workers making widgets.
Of course that’s going to come back and bite the company on the butt. And it does. People are angry, resentful, unmotivated beyond the what they’re made to do, symptomatic, disrespectful, suspicious and lethargic.
I am so glad to be out of there. It was like a pressure cooker with no release valve. I think the founders of Circles had a wonderful idea but it just spun out of control. And continues to spin, from what I hear.
Mark Shead says
I took out the telephone number from the previous comment and from your comment at the request of Laura Hutchinson from Circles. I’ll put up a post about our conversation in the next week or so. It was interesting.
Thanks for your comment. I agree that American Express oversells the service. What I was most disappointed with was trying to use it to locate a place to stay for several months in Durango, Mexico. Even after repeated requests the best I could get was a URL of a Mexican newspaper. This is a far cry from what American Express claims the concierge can do. One of the comments suggested that the US concierge is run very differently than the ones in other countries.
Platinum Status says
They use OpenTable for reservations and ticketmaster for tickets. I was once able to purchase tickets while on hold, and when the person came back on the line, they told me the seats vanished. Because I click my mouse faster??
Is it faster to wait on the phone for 10 minutes, or to google something yourself? Isn’t there an app for this now?
Mark Shead says
Maybe they do use OpenTable for some stuff, but the Fugo de Chao isn’t listed on the Open Table website and the concierge was able to get rid of a two hour wait for us.
Mr. S says
Im glad I came across this post re: Amex Platinum and it’s concierge service(apparently executed via Circles) i have been a card holder since ’97. Not an eternity however a good amount of time. Over the past 6 months I’ve had such horrible executives when dialing in that vie chosen to no longer do business with American Express. Platinum Concierge has Significantly deteriorated over the past few years. If in fact Circles is the group that services Platinum cardholders than circles seems as if they’ve hired these horrible team leaders and middle managers. It wasn’t until I spoke with the person running the division did I receive the service I was accustomed to from yearsr prior. My advice to senior management is fire all middle management, team leader and recent hires (since cockroaches tend to hand around there own kind) American Express is in serious trouble if this is the company they continue to be and immediate action within the circles organization should be taken. Simply said F you Amex and circles employees.
hmmm, just ordered an AMEX and thought the concierege would be a helpful thing. May have to cancel/re-think. Certainly will have NO tolerance when I get the card if they screw up….
On this topic, I can confirm that this past Tuesday (June 14th, 2011) that Circles has again relieved upwards of 20 employees of their duties due to a continued downward trend in the use of American Express Concierge services. Of the twenty impacted key personnel within their Concierge Call Center Operation were considered redundant positions, the Directors of the Operations represent both Centurion and Platinum and had a combined tenure of greater than 10 years. A massive loss for Customer Service as their is currently no Senior Leadership at the helm of the Customer Operation with their VP and General Manager also leaving in the past year. I’m certain American Express is highly concerned to see key roles in the Card-member services divisions impacted and would expect the long term servicing of Concierge is likely to move from Circles to another provider, which in the long run will not be a bad thing for CM’s. The SIEU, Service Industry Employee’s Union is now attempting to sign the employees of Circles on to their platform in order to stave off further job loss…not sure this is a good thing for the employees either but after 4 years of downsizing perhaps they won’t take all things into consideration
I feel for the American Express Card holders with regards to concierge services, 80% of their requests are for things they can do themselves quite easily on a daily basis. Tickets, Dining, and Flowers – Circles is really good at delivering on this but do you really need to pay $499 and $5000 to have a Concierge Service available to you for ordering tickets off Ticketmaster or utilizing Open Table for the most part. Yes they can get you into a restaurant, however that relationship is American Express’ and lets be honest the first choice ability to close a reservation is typically in the 30%-40% range….really they fail greater than 60% at getting you your first choice. Circles makes a solid margin on this business with typically charging AXP a fee per request of between $35 and $60 depending on the card being utilized, really for ordering ticket on-line Circles gets $35 for a labor cost of between $12 and $18 depending on the complexity of the order. I’d like a piece of a business that makes money at a 45-53% Margin clip! Think about it folks, is Concierge really that relevant in your life anymore with apps and other productivity gains in the marketplace. Seriously time to ask AXP to review their cost model and save you some money on the front end of your card fee’s, the other benefits are worth it – just not Concierge anymore.
Mark Shead says
Where are you getting your figures from. I really doubt the Circles is getting $60 to get someone into a restaurant.
Don’t doubt it, I know for certain as prior to our current leadership we received regular monthly updates on revenue and number of service requests each month. Easy calculation to figure out revenue per request. I am not giving exact number, sure all understand why, it is in the ballpark of $35 and $45 on one card and $55 and $70 on another. Transparency to staff was a key motivator prior to this recent change, even the SIEU understand the finances and are well versed on the margins of this particular business. Folks are very upset and very demotivated at the staff cuts occurring on the AXP side of the business while the company is still making a great margin on this side of the business. These changes will negatively impact the end user, and in the long run erode the relationship between Circles and AXP as I doubt AXP agreed to the changes. The lack of communication internally leads to people drawing their own conclusions, thus turning to a voice outside the current regime to give guidance and protection. The companies values have been compromised for personal gain of a few at the top at years end. I’ve said enough and now need to focus on my career change!
Visa concierge says
I’m currently working for visa concierge and I like what they do there and the way they treat employees. However due to personal reasons I’m thinking about to work for Amex…but after reading all these negative comments abt it… I’m a bit hesitate to do so….
Richard Taub says
My own sense is that the American Express Platinum concierge service is not worth the time. I asked help with a restaurant reservation and they were able to provide the same one as Open Table (not a convenient one). Instead the recommended a chain steakhouse in New York for someone coming from Chicago which has pretty good steakhouses. Not anything like the restaurant I was requesting, known for its interesting cuisine. I will get my 200 back for airline expenses which they provide and I did get my Global Entry through them. The rest is just a hype and waste of time,