Home > Uncategorized > Broken Windows – Amex

Broken Windows – Amex

Sometime last month I got a mailer from American Express stating that I had ‘Privileged Access’ to some fancy night club in Singapore called Coup D’etat, or Ku De Ta, as it is more commonly known.

The mailer was clear that if I called in advance and made a reservation I would be able to take a friend along to this posh place.

Accordingly I called Amex on Tuesday for a reservation on Thursday night. After the due verification Amex said they needed to call back with a confirmation, after talking to the club.

Wednesday night they called back to say they needed more time.

Thursday afternoon they confirmed.

So far the experience was great. And given that they needed 2 days to confirm this I am expecting this to be a really hallowed experience.

Accordingly last night we head off to this venue.

As quick background, this bar is on the top floor of Marina Bay Sands and boasts great views. They have a ‘check in’ door on level 1 to confirm that you have a reservation. Once you check in, you get a small card, which you show a hostess at the lift exit on the top floor. She will then take you to a reception desk, who will reconfirm and then you enter…

So that’s exactly what happened.

At reception the dainty lady said it was free seating and we could sit any where.

We enter and find…

One whole section on the side with great views is locked away for a private party.

The section along the balcony is littered with tables with people standing. Did I say it was packed? Well that area was. Not even standing room.

The other side had open air seating with about 10 sofas also blocked with some red satin rope. I walk up to the guy who stands guard who says I need to talk to the receptionist.

Which I dutifully do.

She looks at me and says the minimum order for those tables was 2 bottles of hard liquor. Thinking I heard wrong, I asked again and she reconfirmed. I asked her how a table that seated 4 could go through 2 bottles of hard liquor. No response.

So I requested if we could sit on the obviously empty spaces for just a drink and leave.

‘Sorry those are the rules.’

That left us with seating on some sort of long curved sofa, where people were already sitting like waiting to be called at a Returns Counter of Ikea, giving us a view of the empty dance floor.

Not quite what we expected.

So we left to go to another bar even higher than the one we left!

As we talked about our experience at the club, while we were not complimentary about it, some of the negativity rubbed off on Amex too.

We were not sure what the Privileged Access was. I thought it entitled you to something special. Turns out it was just entry. Not sure we need Amex for that.

All the ‘we need to check’, ‘let’s get back to you’ raises expectations of something special being arranged. Like a table reservation. Which it didn’t.

So Amex shoulders some of the blame for the negative experience.

Now some smart lawyer type will say that all offers that are fulfilled by a third party are the responsibility of that party and the provider of the offer cannot be held liable.

That is lawyer speak. Not marketing speak.

Guess who’s going to think less of American Express when something like this happens. The consumer. Good luck explaining to her Section 37 para i where it says quite clearly in 8 point size that Amex is not liable.

As more of these experiences pile up across (think broken windows) many offers the brand damaged is American Express, and I may just leave home without it.


  1. Romit
    September 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Good story, Harish.
    I’m more piqued on why a nightclub would want to be called coup d’etat. Evidently, you weren’t one of the usurpers here so I wonder who were!

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