How to Make Visa Obey Your Every Desire: The Credit Card Concierge Experiment

316 Comments

The following post is a guest post by John Hargrave, whom I met in 2007 at SXSW.

If you find large-scale pranks (Super Bowl, anyone?), impersonating celebrities, and other clever mischief amusing, he’s the king of the domain. His book Prank the Monkey is a guide to unleashing your inner Loki.

Given my interest in outsourcing and pushing the envelope with concierge services, he suggested the following post, which looks at just how far VISA will go to keep you happy. I’ve run similar experiments with American Express Platinum Card with similar results. There are no credit card affiliate links in this post, so no ulterior motives. Just eager for you to reap benefits you’ve probably never taken advantage of. Enjoy.

Please share your success stories, past or present, in the comments.

Herewith enters Sir John Hargrave.

###

I recently signed up for The Visa SIGNATURE Chase Freedom card, for one reason: it has a concierge service. [Tim note: In fact, all of the “Visa Signature” cards have this concierge service, among other benefits]

A credit card concierge service is much like a hotel concierge service, except you don’t have to tip. A concierge is your own personal assistant, someone who will do anything you want them to do: make dinner reservations, book a trip to Hawaii, or shop for negligees for your grandmother.

We’re so used to being treated badly by credit card companies that it’s almost impossible to believe that they are serving you. But that’s how it works: they’re your virtual assistants, ready to help you with anything.

Anything?

I wanted to test the limits of my Visa Chase Freedom concierge service, so I spent a week making incredibly ridiculous requests, to see how they’d hold up…

TEST #1: GIANT TUB OF NACHO CHEESE

I made my first call to the Visa Chase Freedom concierge service by calling the toll-free number on the back of my card. I was connected to a concierge named David, who I pictured wearing a little bellboy hat, like a hotel concierge, though I think they just wear a telephone headset nowadays.

David spoke English, which was a nice change from my usual calls to Visa. “I’m traveling to Austin next week, and I want a big tub of nacho cheese. Make that a HUGE tub,” I told him. “Enough to fill a punch bowl.”

“Does it need to be in a tub?” he asked, taking the request with the seriousness of someone who worked for me.

“Can, jar, tub, I don’t care,” I said. “I just want liquid cheese, and a lot of it.”

“Would you like us to get back to you by phone or email?”

“Phone, please. I don’t want there to be any miscommunication about my cheese.”

“Is it okay if we have this information to you by 2:00 pm tomorrow?” he asked.

“That would be fine,” I responded, “as long as I get my cheese intel.”

“You’ll get it, sir,” he assured me. “Thank you for calling Visa Signature concierge service.”


Chase Freedom, before it runs away.

Here’s how the service works: your request is assigned a “case number,” which goes into an enormous pool of concierge requests. These requests get outsourced to overseas workers who track down the information and enter it into their system. Then you either get e-mailed, or an English-speaking worker phones you back the next day with what they’ve found.

“I have your information,” said a young woman named Jenny who called me the following day. “There is a supermarket in downtown Austin named Fiesta that sells large cans of nacho cheese.” She gave me the address, phone number, and the price of the cheese.

I went to Austin the following week, where I went to Fiesta, and I actually found the cheese exactly as she had described.

I was floored. This service was a dream come true. Just think of the ridiculous errands I could send them on next!

When I heard that the Visa Chase Freedom card came with a concierge service that would do anything I wanted, I had to put them to the test. Don’t we all want to make our credit card company work for us for a change?

TEST #2: CROSSWORD PUZZLE

“I’m really stuck on 62 across,” I complained to Maurice, the concierge who helped me the following night. I came to learn that I would get a different concierge every time I called, but they were all quite helpful, with none of the attitude that you normally get from customer service reps.

“What crossword puzzle are you doing, sir?”

“It’s the USA Today puzzle,” I said. “The clue is BLUE GROTTO LOCALE. I have no idea what that means.”

“Blue Grotto locale,” he repeated, writing it down.

“The only Grotto I know is at the Playboy Mansion,” I told him. “But this is 11 letters, and starts with I.”

“Okay,” he said. “You want to hang on?”

“Sure,” I said. He put me on hold for about two minutes—the same amount of time it usually takes me to get through to someone at Visa—and came back with the answer.

“You ready?” he said.

“What, you already got it?”

“The answer is ISLE OF CAPRI,” he said. “11 letters, starts with I.”


11 letters, starts with “I”.

“That’s incredible!” I exclaimed. “Are you like an idiot savant of puzzles?”

“You just happened to get someone who likes crosswords,” he said, modestly.

“I will call you every time I need a clue in the future!”

“Uh … okay!” he said, as brightly as he could.

How many times have you been at a restaurant, arguing with your friends about which President was the fattest, or whether Kevin Bacon has ever done a nude scene? Now you don’t need to pull out your smartphone and Google it, you can just call Visa and have them look it up for you.

Having a Visa worker do your bidding: much classier than an iPhone.

TEST #3: DAILY AFFIRMATIONS

“I suffer from low self-esteem,” I told Jamie, my new concierge. “My psychologist recommended that I give myself a daily affirmation. You know, something like, ‘I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.'”

“Okay,” said Jamie, not sure where this was heading.

“But that’s a lot of work, so I’m hoping you guys can do it for me. Just call and give me a daily affirmation.”

“You want us to call and tell you you’re a good person?”

“That’s right. I mean, if you think so. I’m not so sure myself.”

“If you can hold for one moment, I can check on this for you,” Jamie said.


Keep repeating this, and you can one day be Senator of Minnesota.

I bit my lip to keep from cracking up as she went to check with a supervisor. She came back with bad news. “I’m afraid we can’t do this for you,” she said, “but we can look up services that would do this for you.”

“What?” I asked. “Why? Am I not good enough? Oh, I knew it.”

“I’m sorry, we’re just not allowed to do anything of a medical or emotional nature.”

“You can’t tell me I’m good enough because I’m not,” I moaned. “Which is exactly what I thought!

“Sir,” she said patiently, “I’d be happy to look up other services that can send you these affirmations, and e-mail you that information.”

“Could you at least attach a little positive note to the e-mail?” I begged. “Just like, ‘Thanks for being you?'”

“Let me check with a supervisor,” she said, a little less patiently this time.

I pushed hard on the affirmation, and she asked a supervisor three times before I relented. Apparently Visa Signature couldn’t do quite anything, but I have to admit she did eventually come through on her promise, sending me this via e-mail:

Visa Signature Concierge

Dear John Hargrave,

Thank you for using Visa Signature® Concierge. The information you

requested is provided below.

Motivational Message Service

Please Note: Please find below one option for a company that

is able to provide phone, texts, and emails reminding you of “what a good

person you are.”

Company: MedVoice Inc.
Contact: Renee Dotson
Phone: 800/720-1151
Cost: $89.25 per month for unlimited messages.

I decided to let Visa have this round, since they did technically satisfy my request, which was to find someone who could send me love notes. But now it was time for a real challenge.

I had applied for a Visa Chase Freedom card, just so I could test if their concierge service would fulfill my every desire. So far they had done an amazing job, but now I was about to cross the final frontier.


TEST #4: SPACE TRAVEL

“I’d like to book a trip to space,” I said.

There was a pause. “You want us to send you to space,” said Courtney, my new concierge/slave.

“That’s right.”


Cost: $200,000, plus a $15 fee for extra bags.

“Well, I have heard there are companies who can send you to space.”

“Money is no object,” I said, “but I am on a budget.”

“So you want details on pricing?”

“Pricing, the waitlist, when I could travel, everything,” I said. “Also, medical restrictions. I have a weak spleen.”

“I guess you don’t need restaurant recommendations to go with that trip,” she cracked. Humor! I fell in love with the Visa Signature concierge service at that moment.

“That’s a great point!” I said. “What do they serve on these flights? I want to know what I’m going to get to eat in space.”

“Probably that astronaut ice cream,” she said.

“YES! Tang!”

“We’ll get this for you by 2:00 pm tomorrow,” she said.

Their time quotes vary, depending on how difficult they think the request will be, and probably how many wage slaves are available to look up your request in the Philippines. But my requests were generally answered in less than 24 hours.


Possibly the coolest name of any company, ever.

The next afternoon, I got my response via e-mail, outlining not one but TWO space travel companies (Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures), with medical restrictions (none that they could find), and meal options (peanuts or pretzels).

Another test passed. There was only one more thing to find out: could the Visa Signature concierge service investigate themselves?

TEST #5: WRITING THIS ARTICLE

“I’m a writer on deadline,” I told Bruce, my new concierge/manservant, “and I need to find out a little more about this Visa Signature concierge service. Are you familiar with this service?”

“I’ve heard of it, yes,” he said.

“Here’s what I need to know: is there anything you won’t do? Like, I assume you won’t help me find a contract killer, or overthrow a government. But what else? Where do you guys draw the line?”

There was a long pause. “May I place you on hold while I check on this for you?”

“You betcha.”

He came back a few minutes later, sounding a little bit shaken. “Okay, we can get you a list like that, but we’ll need about three days to put that together.”

“Oooh. That’s not going to work. I need to deliver this article tomorrow.”

“That’s the best we can do, sir.”

“That’s weird,” I said. “You shouldn’t have to research this one at all. Can’t you just read it from your training manual or something?”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“But my deadline really is tomorrow. I can’t finish the piece without it. I’m going to have to say Visa Signature concierge service couldn’t deliver the final thing I asked for.”

“We can deliver it,” he repeated patiently, “just not until Monday.”

“But the readers will never find out the answer,” I pressed.

“I apologize to your readers.” Bruce was polite to the end.

“All right,” I said. “They forgive you. Monday it is, then.”

All in all, I was incredibly impressed with the Visa Signature concierge service. It costs nothing beyond the annual card fee, and it’s helpful for so many occasions. There’s almost no limit to the things the concierges can do for you, except for… well, you know. Help you finish the end of your article.

Some things I guess you just have to do yourself.

(This post originally appeared on Credit Card Chaser)

Afterword from Tim: In the comments, several concierge service providers were kind enough to provide their thoughts, and one was kind enough to list some of the cannot-do’s. Here are a few:

1. We cannot get you an interview to work for a sports team.
2. We do not have special access to confidential government reports.
3. We do not have discounts for venues, restaurants, or services not included on the website http://www.visa.com/signature.
4. If a hotel is completely sold out and booked, we cannot reserve a room there; however we’d be glad to check other hotels nearby.
5. We cannot research your school paper, or do your job for you.
6. We can’t run personal errands or call your friends for you.
7. We can’t plan your wedding, but we can help you find a wedding planner.
8. As far as what’s considered unethical behavior, consider this an example: If child prostitution is legal somewhere, we won’t help you find one; however if you’re in Nevada and want to make an appointment for a rendezvous at the Bunny Ranch, we’d be glad to help you check rates and availability.
9. We don’t have access to your credit card account information or rewards program.

Please keep these not-so-unreasonable limitations in mind when you give us a call. We’ll hear from you soon.

Elsewhere on the Web – Odds and Ends:
Tim Ferriss on Angel Investing (video) – TechCrunch
How I answer the question “How should I monetize my blog?” (3-minute video)

Posted on: May 1, 2010.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

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316 comments on “How to Make Visa Obey Your Every Desire: The Credit Card Concierge Experiment

  1. I don’t see anywhere – not on Chase’s site not on Visa’s site – online to get a Chase Visa signature card. Is it real?

    Like

  2. I’m with Max that there seems to be no way to get this card. That site was a dead-end (from 2005). Interesting post though.

    Like

  3. Personal concierge service is usually offered for black cards only.

    Most of which have extremely high standards for acceptance and huge fees as well.
    i.e. Amex Black is $5000.00 down and $2500.00 a year.

    To qualify you need to be in the top 1%
    e.g. A CEO, Movie Star, Billboard Top Artist, NY Times bestselling author or run a modestly sized country

    Like

    • David,

      Platinum Amex is all I use and it’s concierge service is impressive in its own right. No big fees required.

      Tim

      Like

  4. My husband has concierge service through his Platinum AmEx card, and it is GREAT. They were able to get us weekend reservations at the French Laundry, which is notoriously hard to get into. We had tried for several months and they did it in less than 1 week. They also dealt with travel arrangements that became a headache. They called, waited on hold, got our questions answered, and got back to us within 1 day. I am pretty sure most cards that have this service have higher yearly fees (around a couple hundred bucks), but if you have it, it’s really nice.

    Like

  5. Dear Tim,

    I dub you Master of Ceremonies of the Biggest Can ‘o Worms Credit Card Event of the Century.

    And besides having good fun once in a while, I wonder what could be more terminal for humanity than selfishness ?

    I think this post smells a bit like cheese. 😉
    lol

    Like

  6. Just a quick note – the article mentions an annual fee, but NOT all of the Visa Signature cards have one. I’ve got the Schwab “Invest First” card – which is a Visa Signature (and has the concierge service) – and no annual fee.

    And – yes – it is AWESOME! They also take requests by email, if you don’t want to talk to a person. I have had them make calls for me that I didn’t want to make myself 😉 and got help tracking down free replacement parts for a shelf I bought from Amazon. The shelf was missing hardware, I had tried returning it twice with no luck. The VISA folks called the manufacturer several times (they were hard to get ahold of), gave them my info, and got them to send out the missing parts. Saved me some time and a headache!

    Like

  7. I may have several amazing friends who work for visa signature concierge, and I would like to say first, John Hargrave, you forgot to include in your post the best line from your request for information about space travel. That line, I hope you haven’t forgotten, was, “I just want to float, Courtney. I just want to float.” It’s the kind of line that needs to be repeated while staring pensively into the middle distance and contorting your face into a grimace as you ponder the great torment of being earth-bound. Now that’s the stuff great bar catch phrases are made of, and we love you for it. Merry prankster, indeed… original and excellent. To all the rest, people do use this service for purposes practical and necessary. Quit jamming up the works. A prank, when repeated ad infinitum, is tedious at best, infuriating at worst. Come up with something new, because John Hargrave already pulled this one, and he did it better than you can.

    Like

  8. I’m not sure why you had to be so snarky with the people on the other end of the line. It seems moronic to treat people that way.

    Like

  9. I had no idea that such a service existed! I have a Visa Signature card and there have been a few times having a resource like that would have been (and still will be) very helpful, especially when traveling.
    Thanks for the info!

    Like

  10. Tim, I read your book and realized that you have some good info AND I want to encourage you to do a book with ideas for people 60 and above. I have read you book once and will read it again. I have many people in my network who are retirement age and thinking very bleakly within the box about “there’s not much I can do at 67 to earn money” for example.

    I think your current book is aimed at a young set and speaks of a world many older people have no knowledge of. If you could speak to this novice, older group about innovative ideas for making money in a way we/they could understand, I’m betting it would be another best seller.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for the comment, June! I agree wholeheartedly. The questions one asks themselves at graduation are the same questions that pop up during mid-life crises and again at retirement. The solutions are likewise similar.

      All the best,

      Tim

      Like

  11. So where is the list of things they won’t do? You have left us with a cliffhanger! I need to know what they won’t do!

    Like

  12. No Credit Card links, eh? Or so you say in 3rd paragraph of this article. Yet in paragraph 5 theres the link to VISA. Ordinarily I couldn’t care less, but if you make a point to make a point then don’t contradict yourself.

    Like

  13. Yes to Noah who asked…the Visa concierge service works in Canada too! I have the TD First ClassTravel Infinite card and personal concierge service is included. Great article Tim!

    Like

  14. Interesting, do you think that you could get them to write responses in a way which could then be used as content articles for article or blog marketing?

    Like

  15. Also, maybe you’ll get better results but in my experience adsense ads suck and running CJ ads which you think will jive with your readers will make more money.

    Like

  16. This is cool. My REI Visa card is a Signature, and I knew it had some benefits to it in addition to the REI dividend, but I wasn’t aware of this. I’ll have to give it a try as soon as I think of something worthwhile.

    Like

  17. Why do this? You’re not only wasting the operator’s time, but also the time of people with urgent needs. The rep could be spending their time helping someone stranded in a foreign country or someone who has lost their luggage instead of finding a tub of cheese your amusement.

    I am a proud rep of a major credit card company. I also attend a university full time. You might think that you are pulling a funny stunt, but each call does impact an operator’s paycheck. Did you know that?

    Your concept of “fun” at the expense of hard working people is immature.

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment. I don’t think it’s either/or for good banks and their subsequent Signature VISA or AMEX services. I used to work with 10+ call centers, and there were always enough reps to deal with oddballs and odd requests. Those with emergencies and real needs got through. Just my 2 cents.

      Tim

      Like

  18. I just called for the first time to request 2 things. 1) plane tickets from Honolulu to Sydney Australia. and 2) a complete transcript of Obama’s 2009 state of the union address.

    Like

  19. I think this article was actually very helpful. I am not rich but do have a NO FEE Visa Signature Card through Schwab. I had read about the concierge service and wondered if it actually delivered. I can’t imagine using it regularly, but every now and then it could be helpful. Next month I am planning a big splurge lunch to La Bernardin, with a friend…it would be worthwhile to use the concierge service to make the reservation and possibly receive a level of treatment and table that I might not get making the reservation on my own.

    Like

  20. I would love to have this credit card, and then ask them to take care of my student loans… 🙂

    “How can I get you to pay my student loans off?”

    😛

    Like

  21. Chuckling here………….I would love to be a fly on the wall in their lunchroom

    This is about the only time in the last 9 years and 7 months that I wished I lived in North America, so I could get one of these cards.

    Like

  22. If you really wanted to test them, you should have asked for “Naked Pictures of Bea Arthur”

    Anyone catch the reference? 🙂

    Like

  23. As a web designer this could be very helpful: Can you compile 20 royalty free images that relate to carpet cleaning? Can you please put 10 comments using different emails on my latest blog post? etc. I wonder if they cut you off after a certain number of requests. Only one way to find out.

    Like

  24. I ‘m a hostest in a fine dining restaurant and get AMEX concierge calls from time to time for reservations. I personally don’t like the people that use this service. They tend to be even more pretentious and have a higher sense of entitlement than our other customers.

    We promise the service we will hold one prime time spot for them everynight up until 24 hours before the reservation. When they call Saturday night at 7pm asking for a 730pm reservation I almost always tell them no. Even if we can. Or when they call 2 days before Valentine’s Day. I tell them no as much as I possibly can because of the type of people it brings in.

    We’ve had people who walk in at 7:30 on a Saturday night when we have a 3 hour wait. They go to the bar and call their FAKE concierge thinking they can get in sooner. B/c of that, I make them wait longer.

    Now if a REAL concierge calls, that’s a different story. I take every reservation they request. Even day of on Valentine’s Day. I know all the concierges in the area by name and some by voice. The difference is the real concierges are recommending our restaurant to out-of-town guest. The credit card concierge (FAKE Concierge) are making reservations for people who requested our restaurant, but weren’t smart enough to make their reservation in advance.

    Like

  25. Just got shown this by a friend; was laughing out loud at work. But part of the reason I thought it was so funny is that all of these questions can be answered for free by your local librarian. You don’t need a credit card – unless you want them to deliver that tub of nacho cheese to you! Haha.

    Like

  26. That was such an excellent write up – Article of the year IMHO.

    I wonder if we have a version of this in Ireland – I’ll go research it.. or better still someone call up the service and ask them for me – lol

    Like

  27. Tim! So I had drinks my old boss last week (he was my boss until summer of 08 when I quit after reading your book in Jan 08) and he was giving me a familiar speech that finally lead to his asking me with unbridled enthusiasm, “Have you read the 4HWW?” To which I replied, “Yes, why yes I have, twice, just before I quit working for you.”

    I’m coming up on two years of making a full-time income working, honestly, 8-10 hours a week as a freelance writer. Couldn’t have done it without your seriously kick-ass book.

    Like

  28. Historical moment for me — the first post on Tim’s blog that I didn’t like at all. The language is arrogant (“wage slaves”) and the experiments are stupid… Took no value from the article whatsoever.

    Like

  29. This service is based in the US, not the Philippines. I use the service for realistic and just REAL requests, and don’t appreciate people, much like this writer, who are wasting the time of the Concierge Service. Every stupid request you put in is taking up the time from people with real requests. What if the concierge service is unable to find little Timmy’s Dinosaur birthday cake or Margaret’s ballet shoes all because you maybe want some Nacho Cheese? Grow Up, call the service when you NEED it, not just because it’s fun!

    Like

  30. Hi Tim,

    I haven’t been on your blog for a while and I was a little shocked as I saw the advertising on the right side replacing the “Tim’s favorites, etc.” It really disturbs the experience on your blog and I always thought that your blog is not about making money. How come that you changed your mind?

    Greetings from Germany

    Sandro

    Like

    • Hi Sandro,

      Just another test. I’d be really disappointed in myself if I stopped experimenting! Please don’t let it bother you.

      Danke!

      Tim

      Like

  31. Pretty sure for the crossword puzzle, the guy just typed it into a crossword solver online. And then lied about it. Who knows, he may be an “idiot savant.”

    Like

  32. After one of your readers brought this article to my attention as a Concierge service provider, many others have called to take advantage of the service referencing your blog. It is an excellent time saving service, and we will certainly do our best to accommodate interesting requests. This being said, there is a limit on what we’re able to provide, including the following:
    1. We cannot get you an interview to work for a sports team.
    2. We do not have special access to confidential government reports.
    3. We do not have discounts for venues, restaurants, or services not included on the website http://www.visa.com/signature.
    4. If a hotel is completely sold out and booked, we cannot reserve a room there; however we’d be glad to check other hotels nearby.
    5. We cannot research your school paper, or do your job for you.
    6. We can’t run personal errands or call your friends for you.
    7. We can’t plan your wedding, but we can help you find a wedding planner.
    8. As far as what’s considered unethical behavior, consider this an example: If child prostitution is legal somewhere, we won’t help you find one; however if you’re in Nevada and want to make an appointment for a rendezvous at the Bunny Ranch, we’d be glad to help you check rates and availability.
    9. We don’t have access to your credit card account information or rewards program.

    Please keep these not-so-unreasonable limitations in mind when you give us a call. We’ll hear from you soon.

    Like

  33. Good stuff as always, thanks to this article AMEX is going to hate me now =] I know you’re busy, Tim, but if you have a minute be sure to check out my site which will hopefully help me raise a buttload of money for Make-A-Wish!

    Like

  34. Dear Mr. Hargrave and Mr. Ferris,

    Well done, sirs, well done. We got punked.

    I might have to hit up that affirmation service we recommended you, now that I feel even more like a chump than I usually do, sitting around in my itchy little bellhop hat, eh?

    But as pissed as I initially was, let’s step back and have a little chuckle.
    I’m just jealous, really. That I’m the one left chasing my own tail for my master’s amusement. Too bad my dreams didn’t pan out, sniff.

    But let’s cut our losses- a little bruised pride is all. We actually do deserve the kudos- in the sense that we really are that good, and we work our asses off. Please forgive the correction, but none of our research is outsourced. And there’s like thirty of us, not a faceless sea of 400. And more than 95% of us have college degrees- from places that aren’t like, hmm, Phoenix University. And half of us, while we all speak-a real prettay Anglish, are bilingual: French, German, Spanish, Japanese, et al.

    I say this not to make myself feel better (Ok, well, maybe just a little- I AM Jack’s sense of bitter disappointment), but like, HEY, I’m just a dude, I’m a real person, I have feelings, damnit, AND good taste in music. On a daily basis, I get screamed at, cussed at, hung up on- and I’m actually really, really nice, I promise- and to the audience’s shock and surprise, intelligent. Have you seen that new McDonald’s commercial for their coffee frappes or whatever, and the guy with the head set in the call center is like, “I get my ‘me time’ while apologizing for stuff I had nothing to do with all day?” I gave that ad a standing ovation.

    Good customer service is good customer service, but that doesn’t entitle people to walk all over us, or anyone else in the customer service industry, for that matter. Sorry the credit card companies make you feel sad-face, but we’re not them, and quite frankly, that’s why I have never gotten one.

    Like

  35. I just called Amex Platinum Concierge with these requests:

    1. What’s the cheapest/fastest route to travel from Tampa, FL to Havana, Cuba?
    2. What’s the best neighborhood to rent a bedroom or apartment in for a month? (Close to action but safe and somewhat quiet.)
    3. What’s the best casino-style salsa instructor in Havana?

    The concierge told me she would have an answer by Tuesday.

    20 minutes later she called back and told me that since Amex is a US-based company they can’t give any information about Cuba (not even recommendations on the best salsa instructor or the best neighborhoods to stay in).

    So they can help you book a trip to space, but not a trip to Cuba.

    Of course this limitation isn’t Amex’s fault so I’m not writing this to complain. On the contrary, the rep was eager to help me when I first called and sounded a little disappointed when she called back to tell me she couldn’t help me.

    Like

  36. incidentally, in response to erica douglass, the schwab credit card with 2% cash back and no forex fees (“Invest First”) has been discontinued, and it is replaced by schwab with the worldpoints credit card. i’m pretty sure though, that the worldpoints card does have a “Visa signature” version….

    Like

  37. Post Rules?? Remember what Tim was like? Cool. That’s how I like him to be — Cool. Funny is fine, but if he’s wasting people’s time, he’s contradicting his own values, as I interpret them from 4hww.

    Tim I love your book and your blog. I mainly read your works however, because of all the value you give. I am looking forward to all your future insights. However, pick your friends with wisdom. I would personally not hang out with “Sir” John Hargrave as he comes off very immature. You are too cool for him. Just my opinion without knowing the guy.

    Thanks for everything.

    Peace Nils-Martin

    Like

  38. This was a fantastic article. It almost makes me want another credit card so that someone else can research things for me.

    BTW, I hope you enjoyed your visit to Austin. We like it.

    Like

  39. Tim,

    Are you still looking for people to help change the public education sector? I am currently a teacher who has lost faith in the school system and would love to see some changes made to improve the system.

    Thanks!

    Like

  40. This is so awesome to know! I’m so excited to give this a spin for myself!! Thank you for bringing this to my attention!

    Like

  41. Tim, I read the first edition of the 4HWW, I am reading the new edition now. I reread sections all the time, I keep the old edition in the bathroom to read random sections for inspiration (that is a place of high honor for a book in my house). Your book (and blog) have inspired me. I participated in my first sprint distance triathlon last year, I will participate in a 2.4 mile open water swim this June (Total Immersion is amazing – I found that through your blog too), along with more triathlons. This summer, my wife, 2 year old daughter and I will spend six weeks in a gorgeous rented house in San Francisco. The backyard adjoins the Presidio and we will be five blocks from my cousin and his family. To fund the trip, we will rent our home by the week (we live near the beach near Charleston, SC). Our airline tickets were paid for with credit card miles. As a result of all of that, our six weeks in San Francisco will EARN us approximately six to seven thousand dollars. Not bad for six weeks in an amazing city away from the hottest and busiest time of year at the beach! While in San Francisco, my wife will attend classes with an amazing sculptor (she is a talented sculptor herself), and my daughter and I plan on taking classes at the School of Circus Arts. This is only the beginning. Once we have this trip under our belt and see what works and what doesn’t, we plan on doing more such trips every year throughout the year. It all started with asking the question, “What’s the worst that can happen?” The answer – not much, and anything that does happen can be dealt with. Thanks for reminding us that life should be a hell of a lot of fun.

    Like

    • Charlie, this comment totally made my day. You’ll have a blast! Welcome to my hometown. Be sure to go for a jog at Crissy Field, right next to the Presidio. Ah, it’s gorgeous.

      Thanks so much for contributing, and for putting words into action!

      Tim

      Like

  42. Hey Tim,

    I’ve also been impacted greatly by 4HWW. I listened to it on audio book on a long road trip to Northern Ontario last August. I was so inspired that I left my hometown for Southeast Asia.

    I’m now in Northern Thailand after more than 6 months of traveling. I’m living for a fraction of the cost now, and getting to experience new cultures and cities as I go. Intra-Asian flights are cheap, apartment rentals by the month are extremely inexpensive, and I can literally eat three meals a day for a total of 3 dollars.

    I’ve been working on my startup, Penzu, keeping my burn rate lower than ever, and having an experience of a life time. 4HWW is the truth—get away from your cushy routine and live life while you are young! Don’t wait for retirement!

    Many thanks and looking forward to Superhuman.

    Like

  43. What a great post and an even better service 🙂

    Getting your credit card company to work for you – now thats thinking outside the box!

    On a serious note, how do they measure their return on a service like this? I’m guessing over 90% of the requests required little or no research, but even so, their back office operation must be quite substantial in order to deliver this service.

    Perhaps it’s a loss leader and something credit card companies NEED to do now a days in order to give themselves a unique selling point?

    Tim, how about you run a competition – “Name the most bizzare task your Credit Card Concierge service has done for you?’

    Brennan’s got to be right up there at the moment 🙂

    Like

  44. Hey Tim i have read both your books and have been reading your blog for sometime now. Question I am only 17 how do i establish my credit and build it so i too can have one of these card?

    Like

  45. I went into this thinking it might be a fun goof on the evil of credit card companies but all I saw was a giant ad for visa.

    Like

  46. Hi Tim,

    Great post on getting Visa to obey your every desire! I noticed the photos for your home in San Jose which is currently for sale. I have been a renter for the past 10 plus years and am now on the fence about making the comment to possibly purchase a home. Understanding that it’s largely a personal decision, could you give us your thoughts on the pros and cons of the renter vs home owner scenario in regards to lifestyle design? Thanks Man!

    Craig

    Like

  47. Completely un-related post….

    I’m only on pg.46 of the “expanded and updated” 4hww and I have to admit, though this may be jumping the gun (from pg.46) I am kind of irritated. I have always wanted to do tons of things with my life and travel and find what I am good at and trust me I have tried. But all of whats suggested thus far, is nearly impossible with little to absolutely no money in the bank. Sure I’m only 19, currently a college drop out and working as a server to make ends meet, (not the ideal Lifestyle Design) but how do you suggest I acquire the means to do what I truly desire in this lifetime?! I’ll say it again, I’m only 19, but I already have somewhere around $30- $40,000 debt (medical bills and student loans) and I make about $150 a week with bills piling. Fear is not holding me back, Money is. So would you suggest somebody like me keep working until “someday” I can live the life with the “new rich” or just drop it all stop paying bills and hitch hike my way across the world to TRY and live the life? Just too confused. ANY response would help… :]
    Please and thank you!

    Like

  48. I wish there were two of you so I could see how the “fire the troublesome customers” side of you interacts with the “call the concierge service representatives slaves and generally trifle frivolities” side.

    Like

  49. Normally a fan, Tim, but this post was disappointing. Tubs of cheese? Fill in my crossword puzzle? Did you outsource to MTV?

    A write-up of useful requests and responses would have clued me in to a service I may actually use sometime, but instead we got a long-winded high school prank. I really am disappointed; now I have to either qualify future recommendations or stop making them altogether so I don’t look like a clown.

    Thanks for all the good material, looking forward to more!

    dylan

    Like

  50. Hi Tim,

    I have been trying to get a copy of 4HWW in AUDIO for ages here in the UK. I tried going to Audible.com to purchase it – but you have to live in USA to buy from thhat site. It is not availabble on Audible.co.uk – apparently a license issue in the UK?

    I have the original in paper format – but want the audio for my wife who travels a lot and is more likely to get into it in audio format

    Are you able to get it published and available in the UK?

    Like

  51. Dear Tim,

    I love you man but those ads are disturbing me for some reason, it’s like when you love a musician and later you find out they didn’t write their songs.

    Disappointing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE your book, blog and your authenticity and I think your message to society is very important. But those ads… I can’t get over them haha!

    Take care.

    Like

    • Hi Hector,

      Ahhh… I know how you feel, man! Just gathering some data, then I’ll be switching things up or going for something different.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I do appreciate it 🙂

      Tim

      Like

  52. This is so awesome. Is there a difference between a Visa and a Visa Signature? I would totally use the concierge all the time!!

    Like

  53. I thought a rule of 4hww was not to be a dick? Bugging credit card companies for dumb information that isn’t related to what you need strikes me as stupid and against the point of most of the book! Hello, anyone think all these lame questions to ask a credit card company, might come back to bit you in the @ss. Now they will just restrict the type of questions they’ll answer, possibly for people that actually need it. Please spare me the all work makes Jack a dull boy line. Do your dull work without harassing others. Reminds me of co-workers who like to “make work” for others as a stupid joke! That’s my rant of the day. 🙂

    Like

  54. This sounds great! Can anybody with access to the Visa Signature Concierge see if they can research a bank that has this service in Japan?

    Like

  55. Hey! Great post!

    Can I ask if anybody knows if there is anything like that in Spain?

    Thank you in advance!!
    Al the best!

    Maria.

    Like

  56. i wish for one day one of you idiots could work as a concierge and know the stress of having to meet a deadline so that it won’t go against you during evaluation. to have other calls backed up with legitimate requests, because you want them them to call you everyday and tell you that you are a “good person”….to have to take so many calls a day, to have your calls listened to to see how you handle a customer no matter how ridiculous the request….so if you don’t have anything better to do besides bothering someone who is trying to make a living, trying workng with the less fortunate, volunteer at an aids hospital, work with the underprivileged, volunteer at an hospice…..maybe then you wont get your jollys off at someone elses expense….yes use the card for legitimate reasons, take advantage of the perks afforded to you, but remember that these people are not your slaves…..next time you want to try to make a fool out of someone (these people are human beings) try using your energy for something positive. how would you feel if someone doing this job is not a strong person, has a stressful day, goes home and blows their brains out because they stressed over trying to find “all of the cheese” that you needed…..UNBELIEVABLE!!!

    Like

  57. OK – all jokes aside here

    I have read through all of these posts and frankly, some of you should really be ashamed of yourself.

    The Visa Concierge associates are there to do a job not to be butt of your jokes. The are located in the United States and do all of the work themselves. That’s right Sir…. They Do NOT outsource anything! You have no idea how much pride they take in trying to help someone make their lives just a little bit easier and some of you want to waste their time with frivilous requests and then laugh at them behind their backs. What does that say about you?

    In addition, These associates (for which there are about 25-30) are educated, well-rounded and probably care more about treating others the way they would want to be treated than most of these posters do. Think about that for a minute.

    Yes, this is a complimentary perk for being a Visa Signature Cardholder; however, appreciate it and value it… don’t abuse the privilege!

    Think about this, what if you are the caller who is stranded on the side of the road and need help with a tow truck or a hotel in strange city and you are stuck waiting on hold for someone that wants a huge tub of cheese? or a crossword answer? OR maybe you are a caller whose family member is seriously ill and you need to take a emergency flight and yet you are waiting for a response because someone is on the phone needing their ego boosted?

    Think about that! Those are real situations that REALLY happen. These folks that work for Visa Concierge are people too and they deserved to be treated with respect. Just as you expect them to respect you. They provide exceptional customer service and it is bar-none.

    On a different note, you are right… It is an OUTSTANDING SERVICE and they are OUTSTANDING at providing the service!

    Like

  58. Come on guys, it is funny, and I am sure the concierge people found it funny too, they have a nice anecdote to tell people while on their break now.

    lighten up

    chill

    embrace life

    Like

  59. There’s been a good amount of whining about the ads on the blog. I don’t get why people are so disturbed by a couple of ads. It’s not like Time is advertising virtual sex games or fleshlights. It’s AskSunday, a service that Tim has been touting since before the first edition of 4HWW. He believes in the product…

    Like

  60. First I would like to say as a Credit Card Concierge I enjoyed your post, I assure you it has be shared with the whole office. I would like to add a few things. First I cannot speak for Visa but we do all of our own research and do not outsource the work to overseas. Second I do enjoy a test every now and then but please use your power over me for good. This blog is a great way to make the public aware of one of the most useful card benefits however if you are testing to amuse yourself please remember that I take my job very seriously each and every request is of the utmost importance. I take great pride and have a personal since of accomplishment with each and every request that I complete. I love my job because I am helping people. Now with that in mind my pay check is paid by the credit card company, the decision to add concierge services is to entice new card holders. If the number of requests outnumbers the number of new accounts my job is in jeopardy. The decision to outsource the work overseas or to stop the service all together is a very real reality I face every day. I do enjoy the strange and unusual requests that I get but I feel it is unfair to your fellow card holders to utilize my time to amuse yourself. We have no list of services we are not allowed to provide. We are empowered to refuse a request if we feel that it is out of line (I can tell you very few requests are out of line) I have never refused one. I had a customer ask me to find her a hotel that would allow her to stay for free if she provided them with publicity photos of the hotel. (As a compromise I provided this customer with the Media contact for the hotel so she could negotiate her own contract) I am not allowed to access email or bank accounts or most any account that uses a password. I will break this rule for Ticketmaster and other similar websites. I cannot set up your utilities but I can provide you with contact information or find you a company that will set up your utilities and I cannot call a third party for you (again I will break this rule in extreme situations only). I enjoy the occasional “settle a bet for me” but if you are going to exhaust three days worth of research for grins and giggles this concerns me. Rather than exhausting my efforts just ask me if I were to request that a tub of liquid cheese be delivered to my hotel would you be able to accommodate me? I would reply that I could help you locate the cheese then I could help you find a courier service to pick up and deliver that cheese but I will not deliver it personally. If you want press passes to “shoot” the president I will not fill out the request form for you but I will tell you how you can apply for press passes. And if you want me to find computer code for you I will make the attempt but I am not a computer programmer and I cannot attest to the validity of the code nor can I assure you that the code is free from malicious virus. We enjoy the conversation just ask.

    Like

  61. I do appreciate Tim allowing my prior post through. I think that says something good about having a rigorous debate, etc. I will qualify my statement by saying: yes, let’s have fun and enjoy life. Use the services that an advanced capitalist system can provide you on occasion. A good prank ever once in a while is a good thing. Please just not as a ongoing/extended joke on someone’s limited time. Don’t kill the golden goose! I’ve had some experience with co-workers this last week wasting a lot of my time and others on what basically is a joke.

    Like

  62. I am a concierge for a high end credit card. I loved your article on the Visa Concierge and your experiences certainly mirror what we do. I have one bone to pick with you. I am located in the USA. We do many Travel requests, both International and Domestic. As part of our job requirements, we must have vast travel experience and we must know how to write. Every travel request we do, is researched by us and written by us. We do NOT outsource anything. The company that I work for also handles the vast majority of credit card concierge services, and none of them outsource their information either. We take great pride in what we do, and I wanted to “correct” your misconception.

    Like

  63. Loved your blog but need to clear up a misconception. I a concierge for the best of these services and am in the USA. I love my job and we all take great pride in what we do. I wanted to let you know that we do all our own research on these requests, write all our own information, and are very good at it. We NEVER outsource anything anywhere and I take exception with your assumption that this is how a request is filled. Some work really is still done in the US.

    Like

  64. Calling your card’s concierge service to see what kinds of mild-mannered requests they can answer? If this is what the idle rich do with their time, I can see why blowing your brains out is an occupational hazard. Watching grass grow would be just about as exciting. Hey! Did you know there are some really funny names in the phone book? Let’s go look! Yippee!

    Er…right. On an actually serious note, I kept my Amex for years and years without really needing or using it, because once I lost my wallet the night before a trip to Europe, and while the Visa people offered to mail me a new card (ha ha), Amex told me they could and would (and did) cut me a replacement within the hour at a certain downtown location. This was in 1985, too, when instant and overnight this and that wasn’t available.

    Good customer service is the key to corporate success, every time. That doesn’t mean being a doormat for idiots (vide supra), but it does mean when your customer has a legitimate issue, you absolutely go the extra mile to make him happy. Once my teenage son ran up a $400 texting cell phone bill in one month. My fault for not paying attention, but when I rang up Verizon they cheerfully put me on a cheapie unlimited plan retroactively, saving me $380. That makes it damn hard for T-Mobile or AT&T to get my business.

    Like

  65. I can sympathize with those people with call center experience who have written in to express their dismay about the article and the flippant requests that the writer used. Certainly, it is a greater good if concierge services are used by cancer patients, dying children, people in war zones, and the like.

    What this fails to take into account, however, is that most people are not born with concierge services. They don’t know how they work, how to use them, or how reliable they are. They may be afraid to call in with something like, “my son’s been given six months to live, his birthday’s next Tuesday, and he wants a cake shaped like a John Deere tractor” for fear that someone won’t believe them, will space the request, or that they might flub something and just have their card canceled.

    As much as the writer was screwing around, one set of concepts came through very clearly — the concierge service is real, it isn’t a ‘gimmick’, and they are reliable. They might as well cancel their advertising budget for the next year, because no advertisement will promote that message half as well as the post.

    Most people will refrain from screwing around with the concierge too much — maybe there will be one or two “jokes”, but it’s been done before and published. But there will be a lot of people, including myself, who look in their wallets and go, “hmmm….better keep that one.” In 1997, a vacation trip to Maui took an unexpected turn when my girlfriend got DCS and spent two weeks in a hyperbaric chamber in Honolulu. In 2006, I was on a business trip to Seattle when the liquid explosives threat was recognized and airports were jammed with passengers facing canceled flights….I could have used such a service then. Before I read this article, however, i would never have thought to use the service because I thought it was probably some overhyped, underperforming, useless and unavailable service.

    In short, the article was memorable because it was funny; just because it was humorous, however, doesn’t mean that serious actions won’t come from it; and it’s extremely likely that people thinking of the five silly things the author did will call for 50 serious things to do in the future — while making 500 people think “of all the cards in my wallet, this one is not the most disposable”. A nice tradeoff for everyone concerned.

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  66. Tim,

    You blew it on this one, bud. You were rude and insensitive to make these people do things that may be in the letter of their job requirements but were neither necessary nor justified. Put yourself on the other side of this incident and ask if you would have thought someone doing this was being humorous. I certainly wouldn’t have. If you would, you’ve got some issues you need to deal with.

    Like

    • Hi Mac,

      It’s meant to be a humor piece, but I hear you. Please also note that it was a guest post. I did not write this or make the calls.

      Tim

      Like

  67. Not sure why you would imply Visa is somehow mistreating or treating unfairly their workers, and I don’t think there’s really any denying it– using the word ‘slaves’ is pretty loaded.

    Also, I’m not sure if you understand voluntary employment. The people working there are doing so because they think it’s better for them than the next best alternative. So it’s disrespectful to the workers themselves as well. If the wages were forced artificially higher– well, yes, ignorant people here would feel better, but the workers currently employed would be displaced by the higher skilled workers the higher wages could buy– the current workers would end up even worse off.

    Anyway, maybe it was meant as humor, but it’s a pet peeve of mine, and it assumes Filipinos can’t make decent job decisions for themselves and perpetuates an inaccurate stereotype about jobs in general. Leaving aside how it portrays Visa, who seem to have been very agreeable through the whole experiment/prank.

    Like

  68. How this article worked for me:

    The concierge service sounded intriguing, not for the prank but for any real-world app I may need. I looked into my wallet, and found a Citi Diamond Preferred card I have for emergency purposes only (good thing I looked, it was locked for underuse, unlocked now). I checked their website and it did say I had concierge service.

    So I emailed them just now, asking for a list of non-fast-food restaurants within 5 miles of where I work. The truth is every day a colleague and I go out for lunch, and are always looking for someplace different. Doubtless, I’ll get a response soon enough, with a list of places both known and unknown to me.

    This is all a plus for Citi, the offerer of this service, as I also looked much closer at the perks/benefits of this card, and am electing to make it my primary. I always use a credit card at those restaurants. I’d like to say I pay my total every month, but that’s not always true.

    Like

  69. Hi Tim!

    As much as I love occasionally reading your articles, this one kind of disappointed me. I’m a Filipina and the term you used “wage slaves” pertaining to workers here in the Philippines was a let down. I agree with Roman that it’s quite an arrogant thing to say. You might want to try living here like a local sometime and see why some people go to great lengths to work for money, especially the majority poor and the struggling middle class. Yes, work is work and the job needs to get done, but I hope you realize that not everyone has the luxury to be served so you have put more value to it.

    Like

  70. It’s me again. I shouldn’t have used the pronoun ‘you’ since it’s a guest post by Mr. Hargrave (I hope he takes time to consider the comments as well) but ‘given your interest in outsourcing’ and the fact that you’ve endorsed the article, I hope I still get the message across.

    On a more positive note, your website does provide an array of articles that provides a different point-of-view on things that keeps one open-minded.

    Like

    • Thank you, Lian. Salamat 🙂 I do not think all Filipinos are wage slaves, as that would be crazy. I know John doesn’t think that either. He was just using that wording for comedic effect, but I can understand why it would upset.

      Like

  71. It’s me again. I shouldn’t have used ‘you’ since the statement I’m pertaining to was part of the guest post but given your ‘interest in outsourcing’ I do hope I get the message across. You have endorsed the article after all. I hope Mr. Hargrave gets his share of these feedbacks as well.

    On a more positive note, I appreciate the fact that your articles give a different perspective on many things that keep one open-minded.

    Like

  72. This is really an awesome post. The daily affirmations task was the most funny of all the tasks. If they agreed to do that, it would have been really stupid.

    Like

  73. I just upgraded my Capital One Rewards Card to a Capital One Venture card – double points, better points-to-travel-cost conversion, AND concierge service. I put as many of my expenses as possible on my credit card and pay it off each month. I, my daughter and my wife are all flying cross country this summer on points that required a few years to accumulate. With double points, we will be flying again on points next summer. All for a $60 annual fee. Sweet! I think about the things I could have used the concierge service for over the last few months, and I am making a list of things I will use them for once I receive my card. (And for you uptight folks without a sense of humor, my concierge plans are all “serious” plans, whatever that means).

    I plan on helping an actor friend create a dvd on auditioning to sell online (assuming our 4HWW-style testing tells us there is a market). I can use the concierge to assist our research in the best ways to make that happen. Researching sprint triathlons in the San Francisco area? Check. Finding cool things to do in San Francisco this summer? Check. Researching funding for independent films? Check. I can’t wait to put the concierge system to work for me, and I can’t wait to get double points! By the way, if anyone is interested, I have had nothing but positive experiences using Capital One’s Rewards points for travel. It’s really easy. (I’m not affiliated with Capital One in any way other than as a credit card customer)

    Like

  74. this literally had me laughing out loud! i think it’s a lesson in ‘pushing the envelope’ as well as taking ourselves less seriously. thanks for making me think outside of the box!

    Like

  75. Getting your VISA to obey every desire you want is really great. This article will give you a split emotion between feeling funny and the feeling of realizing the truth about yourself and you VISA. It is funny not in the sense that there is something funny about the article. It is funny because of the reality we are facing each day. We will feel realization of the truth because every experience and other things stated in this article is the truth of what we can experience and we may experience in the future.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Alex

    Like