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Bits: Amex / Economist offer problems, Heathrow free bus travel ends, Amazon Kindle Unlimited offer

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News in brief:

American Express refusing to pay £45 cashback for Economist promotion

Last week we covered a new offer from Avios and The Economist magazine, which allowed you to earn up to 18,000 Avios for taking out a subscription.

We assumed that this offer would double-up with the current £45 cashback offer which American Express has given to many cardholders. It seems not.

Readers who took out the Economist offer have found that their £45 cashback has not tracked.

The American Express call centre is refusing to add it manually because applications were not made via the exact link to the Economist website in the offer terms. This has never, ever, been a problem for American Express cashback offers in the past. Whilst a website link is often provided, it isn’t necessary to use it.

With the Dell cashback offers on the Business cards, for example, you are encouraged to click through to In truth, the cashback appears irrespective of whether you use the Dell consumer site, the trade site or Dell Outlet.

It is also worth noting that the offer terms do not say that you MUST access the Economist website via the link in the offer rules. It simply says ‘Available online at:’ and then gives the URL.

I am tempted to believe that this is human error rather than Amex policy. My wife recently split a Hugo Boss purchase across two cards – one of hers and one of mine. My cashback appeared immediately but there is still no sign of hers. The system is not faultless.

Irrespective of the reason, it seems that you will not be getting your £45 American Express cashback for this offer – at least without a long and possibly fruitless fight.

If you took out a subscription, I recommend cancelling during the 14-day cooling off period if the maths no longer works for you.

Heathrow to end all Free Travel Zone bus travel on Friday

Regular readers will know that Heathrow announced last year that it was ending its financial support for the Free Travel Zone.

As well as subsidising employee transport to and from the airport, this allowed anyone to use the local buses around Heathrow without charge. You were most likely to use it when travelling between the airport and one of the off-airport hotels.

The removal of free bus travel has been happening in stages. It was removed from routes 4, 7, 8, 442 and 555 on 1st January.

Heathrow has now confirmed that free bus travel will end on all remaining routes on 12th June.

Full details are on this page of the Heathrow website.

Free 3-month trial of Amazon Kindle Unlimited

All week we are covering some of the special offers that Amazon has launched for Prime Day, which is coming up on 21st and 22nd June.

Whilst clearly off-topic for us, these are all good deals. We also get a small commission from Amazon if you buy anything, and with hotel and flight booking commissions massively down we’ll take what we can get …..

Today’s offer for Prime members is with Kindle. If you have a Kindle device, or are happy using the Kindle app on your iPad, other tablet or smartphone, you can claim a FREE three-month trial to Kindle Unlimited via this link.

You MUST be an Amazon Prime member to take part.

Kindle Unlimited allows you unlimited access over 1 million books, thousands of audiobooks and selected magazine subscriptions.  You won’t struggle to keep yourself busy for the next three months.

The terms and conditions of the offer are here.  You can’t take part if you’ve had a free trial in the past 36 months.  The link to cancel your recurring payment of £7.99 from Month 4 is in the terms.

You can sign up is here.  The offer ends on 22nd June.

Comments (95)

  • Gtellez says:

    I just noticed it in Amex account. I think I will be one of those cancelling. I already pay too many newspapers and don’t have enough time to read them all…
    how is the process for cancelling during the initial 14 days? Has anyone done it and received the reimbursement?

    • Will says:

      Good question. The email I got when I took out the Economist subscription implies you cannot cancel, unless you live in the EU.

    • Chris says:

      Many library services offer free access to a range of digital newspapers and magazines. It’s worth trying, to see if some of the ones you read are included. Eg. Essex Libraries gives access to the Pressreader and Libby apps, The Economist is on Libby.

      • Calvin says:

        Thank you so much for this, I was completely unaware of this service! We already pay for council tax so this is definitely a way to make use of what we pay for.

    • jjh4yb says:

      I’ve just cancelled using the Economist’s Livechat, which requires you to log in. It takes about 10 minutes, the only question you will be asked that you don’t know an immediate response to is for your Customer reference number and it appears on your “Welcome to The Economist” email.

  • Ls says:

    Put formal complaint in to Amex. Takes 2 mins. Ask for the £45 and compensation for time spent. If they refuse (and I don’t think they actually will), escalate to the financial ombudsman. Takes 5 mins. In 6 months you’ll get your £45 plus £50 compensation. And Amex will have got charged £600 for the trouble. One of the simple cases the FOS will make a quick profit off. They sorely need these.

    • Ls says:

      And just to add, if they get 100 formal complaints on the same topic at once, they will realise their potential liability both financially, and in terms of reputational damage with their customers, and just cave.

    • Will says:

      How do you do that? Have you got to phone them? I cannot see an email address.

      • LS says:

        I’ve always submitted a complaint by the online chat. You can phone them though, or even write them a letter if you can be bothered. Make sure you say it is a formal complaint, and you need a response in writing (this can be email).

    • JDB says:

      I have been affected, but what has Amex done wrong? I believe your FOS complaint would fail. The offer unfortunately has very specific terms and the fact it hasn’t worked as previous offers have done is irrelevant.

      • LS says:

        Amex are offering an offer based on a purchase on the card. The terms of the offer does not say the offer can only be done via a specific link. You have made a purchase at that retailer. You have not been given that offer by Amex. Pretty simple to me. Unless I’ve misunderstood something.

      • Rob says:

        Except it doesn’t – you are not told that you must apply via that link, simply that it is ‘available’ there. Big difference.

        • Andrew says:

          It’s not really a big difference. If the offer is explicitly available at XXX then it strongly implies that it’s not available at YYY or ZZZ. No one would argue that Amex should have to pay out if you’d gone and bought an Economist subscription through a third party website so what’s the difference here other than “amex offers have worked like this in the past so we expected (hoped) this one would too”.

          • CarpalTravel says:

            It is a big difference when the URL is explicitly stated in the T&C’s, as it is here and has been with other offers. You and I might not like it, but the fact does remain.

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        Financial promotions must be clear, fair and not misleading. Given the widespread confusion, it’s easy to make the case that Amex did not make it suitably clear that the purchase must be made through that url.

        • Genghis says:

          Also concept of contra proferentem.

          Other terms say “offer only…” and “spend must” (implying clear instruction) vs this term of “available online at…” (implying it can be used there but also at other locations).

        • Andrew says:

          Let’s be honest, the ‘widespread confusion’ has only come about because this offer has worked exactly as the T&Cs stated as opposed to the rather looser way other amex offers have worked in the past. The T&Cs basically said “fantastic economist offer available at XXX”. To argue that it’s misleading because they didn’t say “ONLY at XXX” is really stretching things

      • Lady London says:

        I personally think it would be unfair on Amex to FOS this. Generally they are a good fair provider even if whoever is in charge of Shop Small should be told to sort out their execution as it’s doing Amex’s reputation damage.

  • CarpalTravel says:

    Slightly off topic but after 4 calls (chats) with Amex and assurances each time, they still have not added my my 100k bonus for my Plat Business card. They really are not showering themselves in glory at the moment.

    • Mark says:

      Same here it’s been 3 months since I had the card and spent well over 20k with no refunds and no bonus mr points at all. Each time I’m told to wait a week as the back office are working on it. Who can you complain to?

      • Roger W says:

        Same here with a recent Gold Card. There was a count down on the account page which then disappeared. Spent several grand too. Hope it was not revenge for cancelling a Business Gold during the period.

      • CarpalTravel says:

        If I have to contact them again I shall ask them “How do I make a formal complaint?”. I am not going to waste even more of my time and effort trying to work that out too, that also is their problem to sort. I’d encourage you to do the same.

    • Sam G says:

      I’m about to have to do the same. From what I’ve seen here it’s best to call during UK working hours and get connect to their UK (Brighton) team

    • Alex says:

      Same here, no sign of the 100k. Did online chat a month ago to make sure the 10k spend was met as never had the countdown on my account. Was assured by the agent it was. No sign of the bonus after 3 months.

      Did online chat again where the agent was adamant that I did not meet the required spend even though my transactions on my statements were above 10k (but the system said I did not!). Escalated to manager who said the first 1k transaction on the card for some reason was applied manually so didn’t add to the overall spend in the system. Escalated to manual review. What a mess. Anyone know how to submit a formal complaint to AMEX as it’s been a less than ideal experience.

    • Reeferman says:

      I’m in the same situation with Amex personal Platinum. Only 20,000 of my 50,000 points have posted. During the last 3 or 4 weeks, I’ve made one on-line “chat” and 4 phone calls – the latest this morning. The (American) lady today says she’s solved the problem – having found the referral link and send it to the “backroom guys”.
      Worryingly, the notes on my file say that someone will/has phoned me to update me – twice. I’ve had no approaches from Amex at all throughout!
      We will see

  • Dominic says:

    Subscribe for the Canadian digital subscription. Costs the same as the UK one after conversion, still get 15k avios. Just use a Canadian address.

  • Oliver says:

    I’ve raised this with AmEx via their new App Chat feature, and the response was that it looks a valid transaction, so they have escalated it to their dedicated team to investigate further, however this may take 7-10 business days….

  • Jack says:

    Why can’t we cancel and then subscribe again via that magic link from the AMEX offer in a few days? The offer can be used once, but if it’s not recognised by AMEX when purchased via a non-AMEX link, can’t see an issue to subscribe from that link…or I’m missing something?

  • Chris Cannon says:

    Just cancelled through online chat. Took 5 minutes

    • Chris Cannon says:

      Albeit, no full refund – partial only £175.49 – is this right? Tried arguing with them but they said no

      • Stu says:

        Ditto, signed up on 3/6 and whilst the first issue hasn’t yet been delivered (digitally) they say it’s been scheduled for 12/6 so therefore only pro-rata refund use of £175.49 per yourself.

      • @mkcol says:

        Raise a dispute with AMEX about not getting the full refund 😉

  • Stu says:

    Tried an online chat with Amex and first they tried to tell me that the offer wasn’t valid as I signed up via post or telephone (which obviously I didn’t) then they tried to tell me I’d saved the offer on 4/6 but signed up to the Economist on 3/6 – lies, we cross check saved offers between the two of us having been caught out with this once before. I’ve cancelled the subscription accordingly … worth noting Amex definitely aren’t the customer valuing outfit they were when I signed up 8 years ago!

    • steve says:

      I’ve just done a live chat, which resulted in me having to call the call centre, and was told exactly the same. The transaction tracked as being on 3rd June, before I saved the offer on 4th June. Upon pushing it with the call centre agent to check further, they admitted that the transaction was made on the morning of 4th June. She said I was therefore eligible for the offer, but since the transaction was only posted a couple of days ago, I need to wait a while longer.

      However the whole experience was really frustrating – the online chat agent essentially telling me I was lying. Very disappointing for Amex who had previously been excellent. I won’t be taking them up on their offers any more.

      The issue of course is that, the moment the Economist gives me the Avios, then the transaction becomes non-refundable. So if I wait for Amex and they try to get out of it again, then I’m stuck. So I think I’m just going to cancel.

      • steve says:

        The Economist, by contrast, were very easy to deal with in cancelling the subscription! I feel sorry for them, I suspect they will have a busy morning.

      • Stu says:

        What a farce – I suppose the lesson for us here is to read the offer thoroughly before signing up, the link in the offer is definitely quite specific to an Amex sign up.

        Amex also implied I was lying too about the sign up date (reading between the lines) even though the agent said ‘we trust your word’.

        £4.51 down the pan on a speculative offer … I’ll just have one less drink on Saturday to make up for it!

      • LS says:

        I had this with a shop small than never posted a few years back. Accused of lying by the agent. Put a formal complaint in. Got a very aggressive call a few days later where the Brighton complaints agent accused me of lying too, backing his colleague up. Requested formal written response to my complaint, which also accused me of lying. Submitted complaint to FOS, along with evidence I wasn’t lying. Many months later I got a response awarding me the £5, along with a significant 3 figure compensation award. I only pursued it because they accused me of lying, not because of the £5 which I would have written off. Needless to say, I have now closed my account. Was very unimpressed.

        • Ls says:

          I do think they shoot themselves in the foot with these offers. It is better to offer nothing then it is to offer something that doesn’t work properly.

        • CarpalTravel says:

          Unimpressed must surely be a huge understatement, all over £5 as well. Good for you but what a sour taste.

      • Stu says:

        I’ve noticed that sometimes if you shop online before 8am, the transaction date sometimes appears as the previous date. I wonder do Amex transactions time using Pacific time (PDT) being UK time -8 hours?? I think Alex systems certainly leave a lot to be desired.

        Also, I remember once upon a time ringing Amex with a complaint and they gave me 2,000 Avios in a blink of an eye. Nowadays, if you don’t like their service, it’s a case of ‘oh well, sorry you feel you want to leave us, bye then’!

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