Monday, January 22, 2007


Having found that what's in my wallet included a large number of credit cards that I never use, I decided to cancel some of them. Wad of plastic in hand, I started dialing around, and was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was to unload. Yes, I did have to suffer some time in the phone menu purgatory before being allowed into the heaven of actually talking with a human being, but the process was relatively painless and quick. (One of the cards even had a "To cancel your card" option. I can't recall which one, but bless you, my dears.)

Most of the canned voices on the other end were the same neutral .and reassuringly bland ones you hear everyone. Nothing that stands out: no accents, no intonations, no nothing.

That is, other than American Express, which seems to be using an aging Valley Girl, perhaps in hopes of capturing a younger audience. A voice that sounds like an aging version of Hillary Duff or Lindsay Lohan or Mary Kate and Ashley in one of those obnoxious "all grown ups are dumb, all kids are smart" - or, at the very least, smart ass - movies aimed at pre-teens is not what I expect from AmEx. I wouldn't have been surprised if the voice had said, "Well, duh," or "That is just so wrong", or "shut UUUUUPP'.

Maybe it's just me, or one of these ear-of-the-beholder (or belistener) things that wouldn't bother anyone else on the face of the earth. Of maybe I'm just so yesterday. But I found the voice at distinct odds with AmEx's image as a somewhat upscale credit card.

Just to make sure that I wasn't imagining things, I called the customer service line one more time and realized it was not so much the voice as it is the curious pronunciations and the stress placed on certain syllables - that kind of "question-mark-y" way of ending a sentence that I've noticed with increasingly frequency in younger people. (Make that "younger pee-pullllll?")

I did eventually make my way out of the valley of lightness and got to speak to a real person, with a normal voice.

Unfortunately, she was able to convince me not to dump my AmEx card by pointing out that I would lose some miles in a generic frequent flyer mileage bank if I did so. Since frequent flyer miles is the ONLY reason I got the card to begin with, I figured I should hold on to the card long enough to transfer them out of the bank and into one of the dozen or so miles programs I'm in.

So I'm not quite done with the AmEx voice yet, as I'll have to go through her when I do end up quitting the card. Or, I suppose, I could do things the old fashioned way, and put it in writing. Or see if I could cancel out online, without real or recorded human intervention. Whatever.

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