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

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)

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with over 400 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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

    1. Great post- I have been using my AMEX concierge like a VA on and off for the better part of three years now. They are wonderful- I am in Dallas, found out my girlfriend was having dinner w/a friend at a restaurant in Boston (1 hours notice) and wanted to send her flowers. (just to be a nice guy…)

      Called AMEX and they found a florist and had an arrangement (with lavander flowers, her favorite color) sent to the restaurant (by foot because of the short notice!) on her table waiting, total cost 40$. They made magic happen!

      Thanks-that earned me some big brownie points!

  1. I love this! I have this service with my card, but I’ve been too tentative to actually use it. I think I’ll see what kind of concert tickets they can come up with! Thanks Tim.

  2. uno what Erica? i was actually thinking that they would have had the nachos delivered….slightly below my expectation 🙂

  3. I called VISA concierge once and asked them to research the 10 best game fish in the world and where I could catch them. I had no reason to do this. I just felt like knowing. Here’s their response, which was amazing.

    Dear Brennan,

    Thank you for using the Visa Infinite Concierge Service. It has been our pleasure to handle your request. For your convenience, please find below specific information researched on your behalf.

    Game Fish and Ranges

    Please find below a list of the most-sought-after game fish with a description of the range for each. In order to research companies that offer fishing outings to target these species, we would need to know what your departure port would be, and which species you would prefer to target, and approximately when you planned on fishing.

    Atlantic Sail Fish – Located in southeastern coastal United States such as South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana; and into the Caribbean Sea. Atlantic Sail Fish is a popular game fish off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.

    Indo-Pacific Sail Fish – Located in the tropics and sub-tropical zones of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, they are popularly fished off of the West Coast of Central America.

    Sword Fish – Are a widespread game fish, found from the North Atlantic during the summer and fall, and more abundant near Florida in winter and spring. They are also located along most of the western coast of North and South America, as a particularly popular game fish off the coast of California.

    Blue Fin Tuna – Commonly fished in the Northern Atlantic Ocean off of the East Coast of the United States and Canada in summer, they are also found in Mediterranean.

    Marlin – Marlin fishing is considered by many game fishermen to be the pinnacle of offshore game fishing. Blue Marlin are found worldwide, but are most commonly fished off of the Eastern coast of the United States from Cape Cod in the summer south through the Caribbean. They are found as far south as Brazil. White Marlin are located only in the Atlantic Ocean, and are the smallest of the marlin species. They are renowned for their speed, leaping ability, their elegant beauty and the difficulty that anglers often encounter in baiting and hooking them.

    Mako Sharks – Are a popular sport fish off of the coast of Southern California. Their meat is considered the best table fare from the different shark species.

    Tarpon – Are a medium sized salt-water fish that lives in shallow coastal waters. They are most abundant in the Florida Keys, and are enjoyed by anglers as they can be caught on light tackle and even fly-lines, making for a fun fight.

    Hammerhead Shark – Are not commonly targeted specifically, but are often caught while fishing for other game-fish in the shallow coastal waters of Florida and the Caribbean Islands.

    Chinook Salmon, also known as King Salmon – Are found in the tidal waters and inland rivers of the North Pacific from San Francisco Bay in California to north of the Bering Strait in Alaska, as well as in the arctic waters of Canada and Russia.

    Northern Pike – Are a freshwater fish that lives in the lakes and rivers of the northern United States and most of Canada, particularly Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec (pike are rare in British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick). The Great Lakes are a prime spot for Northern Pike fishing.

    If you would like for us to make a reservation on your behalf, or if we can be of further assistance, please call us toll free at 888-853-4458. If you are calling from outside the United States, please call collect at 804-281-5751. If you prefer to send an email, we accept emails at visainfiniteconcierge@mondialusa.com. Visa Infinite Concierge is available to assist you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    Thank you for using the Visa Infinite Concierge Service.

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Bunting

    Visa Infinite Concierge Service

  4. These are some great tests. I would have died laughing with most these conversations. I love the “Chase Freedom”. What a clever way to phrase it. Lifestyle design being pushed by corporate now is a cool thing.

  5. Well that was amusing. Unfortunately I don’t think Australia has as good as a selection of credit cards because when I looked a few months back I couldn’t find any with these types of features unless you’re a huge spender. Probably a good thing though, I’d have too much fun with this.

    1. Not true. NAB have a Visa Premium Card that starts at a $5k limit, has an $80-$90 approx annual fee and offers concierge.

  6. Hi Tim, great post again!

    Brief comment not related to this post:

    I missed your contest a few months ago but did want to tell you reading the 4HWW has changed my life. Since reading it, I’ve taken 6 months off work to spend time with my newborn at that time. I also took on snowboarding and I’ve writen a book on the environment called 144 ways to reduce your organization’s ecological footprint.

    I was on a path to a typical engineering career, now there are tons of things I want to do and very few are engineering related…I have no clue where I will be in 5 years from now and I love it that way!

    thanks Tim!

  7. Hi John.

    This is an interesting tale of what you can do with that service. I did not really think about the items like this that exist out there. It is sort of like Yahoo! Answers, except that a satisfying answer is much more likely with this service.

    It is also pretty entertaining that they would help this much. It seems like a cool service that is probably underused(maybe slightly more used after this article).

    I think many of us are thinking of using the service or a similar one at some later point after seeing the things you tried.

  8. Fairly unimpressive. All 5 test of this experiment only tested one thing: Can Chase’s concierge service use Google to find information?

    Why not have them do something silly/crazy like have a pizza delivered to a random part of your house every day for a week? Or make them call and record a prank call to AMEX for you to listen to? Or bid on 100 random eBay auctions that’s less than $1/free shipping?

    #3 could have been fun, but they clearly failed on it. Further experimenting is in order I say.

  9. I’ve used VISA’s services before for booking flights and it was excellent. I did days of research for the cheapest flights from Winnipeg Canada to New York and they beat everything I found. They also convert your points to cash to go towards the ticket if you like.

    I will definitely look into this card.

    Hows the deadlifts comin’ Tim? POUND IT

  10. Credit card companies often offer a range of services on top of the card service. I have always been sceptical of them, but I guess this really proves that it’s worth investigating those extra freebies such as travel insurance!

  11. Haha interesting coincidence, I just got my new Visa card in the mail today. I’ll definitely be trying this out. I also just opened a Schwab High Yield Checking Account, perhaps the most beautiful checking account ever to exist (no affiliation, but I just about fell out of my chair when I found it). No annual fees/minimums, .5% interest rate (yes, on checking), free checks, refunds on all ATM fees anywhere in the world, warranty extension, the list goes on. They’ll even refund you the difference if you buy a product and find it for a lower price elsewhere within 90 days (up to $200/item, $1000/year). Again, this is a free checking account; how ridiculous is that?

    Anyway, card benefits are incredibly underutilized, especially be young people like me who are never taught about this kind of thing. Thanks for the great post.

  12. Enjoyed the article! I wonder how long the program will last… and if Visa finds that it ends up being profitable for them. Oh, the things you could ask for…

  13. Interesting idea but this is just information that you can find yourself on the internet. Now, if they actually delivered the cheese to you, that would be a great service!

  14. Brilliant … bumped into you yesterday via a mashable article which is best summed up as don’t let the b’tards grind you down!

    You’re probably already aware but if you want inspiring check out notes from the universe by mike dooley … tut … they always make me smile

    tune me into your newsletter if you have one … i’ll be back !

  15. This is better than google’s questions and answers service. By the way, what ever happened to that service? – Where you pay a certain amount of money to get an expert to answer whatever crazy question is out there?

  16. This looks really fun, but do they charge you extra just for using the service? Seems like there would be a whole lot of prank calling going on.

  17. Thanks for putting this up Tim.

    I don’t have a credit card personally. At the end of the day the concierge service is definitely just another way to entice a lot of people to consume… although there are some potential benefits from it if used wisely.

    Thanks John for writing it, keep up the great work 🙂

  18. That is just awesome. I am going to research where I can get a cheap VA, cause we don’t have these cards here in the Netherlands.

    I’m not sure where to go on holiday with my girlfriend, think they can make a pretty cool list!

    Wonder if it is possible to do this on a low budget, as I am still a student. Anybody can ask their VA about it?

  19. While the weird stuff is entertaining, I wonder how much depth they will tolerate for more normal stuff. Detailed job searches? Find me some php code to automate a particular task?

    I have a feeling that they’re about to get an influx of users that they may not be able to handle.

  20. sigh:

    We’re happy to help you with your online credit card application. This chat may be monitored or recorded to ensure quality service. Your security and privacy are important to us. To help ensure you remain protected, please don’t share any sensitive information such as your Social Security Number or account number(s) during chat session.

    Angela is assisting another customer. Please wait while we connect you with the next available Chase Credit Card Specialist.

    You are now chatting with ‘Gloria’

    Gloria: Hi, thank you for visiting the Chase website to apply for a credit card! My name is Gloria. How may I help you today?

    You: hi, i read about the chase freedom

    You: card

    You: via tim ferriss

    You: is the concierge service free?

    You: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/05/01/credit-card-concierge/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+timferriss+(The+Blog+of+Author+Tim+Ferriss)&utm_content=Google+Reader

    Gloria: Great question. Give a moment to see if any information is available.

    Gloria: It is available on the Sapphire card. I am not able to see any information on the Freedom card.

    You: ?

    You: so how did tim get the service?

    Gloria: I honestly don’t know.

    Gloria: Do you have the Freedom card?

    You: no

    You: please take a look at the article to see if that might help

    Gloria: There is Travel Assistance Service.

    You: i dont think that’s it.

    You: he explicitly says “Visa Chase Freedom concierge service”

    Gloria: I don’t see concierge service.

    You: “I recently signed up for The Visa Chase Freedom card, for one reason: it has a concierge service.”

    Gloria: Then the service is being offer through VISA

    Gloria: Visa is providing the service.

    Gloria: Hello?

    You: so where

    You: do i get the card

    Gloria: Currently on our website the Chase Freedom card that is offered is a MasterCard. Upon approval of the card, you can request that it be traded to a Visa.

    You: any easier way?

    Gloria: Unfortunately, no.

    You: wow

    You: i was all excited to get one of these

    You: and now, it sounds like a pain to get one

    You: thx anyways

    Gloria: I am sorry about that.

    You: goodbye

    Gloria: Have a great day.

    Thank you for chatting with us. Please click the “Close” button on the top right of the chat window to tell us how we did today.

  21. I first experience the Concierge Service of my Amex Centurion Card in 1999, after unfortunately totaling my vehicle on (wait for it) a kangaroo, in the middle of the Australian Outback.

    They arranged pick up, replacement vehicle and liaised with the insurers etc. Very impressed and they didn’t seem fazed in the slightest by the obscure nature of my call at 4am.

    Skippy regrettably did not make it……

  22. That was hilarious!

    And VERY cool on AmEx Platinum. I have a Platinum card but had no idea that you could use them for those kinds of services. I’ve mainly used it for the travel benefits (international flight stuff, airport lounges).

    I’m going to investigate this immediately.

    And if that’s the case, you don’t even need to use the FancyHands you tweeted about, eh? Unless you want someone to call for you, I guess. 🙂

  23. I was thinking kind of the same thing that a lot of you were saying here…that many of the tasks were maybe to easy to find. But still how many credit card companies do you that do at least that for you, besides taking 20% interest rates on your money?

    So if they are willing to do some google searching for you when you feel like having some fun with them, don’t hate them! (I don’t work for any credit card companies and I am not trying to defend them, I am just saying “hey” who couldn’t use them if you needed them)

  24. Great! I hate to apply for new credit cards (it lowers your credit score for some time!). But after reading this post I realized that my wife and I don’t have the visa signature credit card. So, I decided to make an exception and apply for one through Chase. I just love these ideas on how to outsource my life! Thanks!

    1. For anyone who reads this comment… applying for a credit card only lowers your score by a couple of points. my wife tracked her credit scores before and after she applied for a cc and I think it dropped 2 points on 2 of the credit companies, and 3 points on the 3rd. The better reason to not apply for a credit card is if you are planning on opening a big line of credit soon, like a mortgage or a car loan.

  25. Any idea if you can use this concierge service (or Amex Platinum Concierge) to prepare a suggested itinerary when vacationing?

    I’m heading out to SFO / Sonoma County this week and this could really save me a lot of time on Yelp!.

  26. Really fun post. Testing the limits of outsourcing (especially free outsourcing) is a ton of fun. AJ Combs has some of the beststories of that stuff as you guys know. It’s easy to forget that the Visa guys will do almost anything you don’t feel like doing but needs to be done. Or my favorite is the stuff people say is impossible. I’m flying home from Omhah today for the Berkshire Hathaway meeting. Last year I was told every hotel was booked and after trying 5 places and an hour of frustration, I called Visa and by 2pm the next day they had three great options…and the meeting was amazing. It’s the little pain in the ass things that you don’t even think of that can be the nicest to outsource. Thanks for the refresher!

    Scott

  27. Wow that is literally amazing. Im gona sign up for 1 of these Concierge Service Cards.

    I’ll get my current Virtual Assistant to do it 😉

    Great article as usually Tim

  28. Tim

    I think you can push the envelope next time. What about asking if they can find a date for say an older person you know?Or can they have someone come over and scratch you pets belly for you. The envelope can only grow.

    Have to look and see it they offer this in Canada.

    Thanks

    Kurzon

  29. Hahahaha… this is what Fancy Hands got back to me with:

    Here are 15 ideas:

    -You need a cake baked/frosted in the form of Obama.

    -You need a private human cannonball show for a birthday party.

    -You want to know the benefits of having a platinum Discover card. (My personal favorite ;))

    -You need to find a first person shooter computer game involving aliens and whiskey.

    -You need a top 5 or 10 list on the ultimate meaning of life.

    -I am stumped on a physics solution to the twin paradox.

    -You need a purple come-over wig.

    -You want to find a company that will let your pet go skydiving with you. Later today.

    -It’s 3AM, you just woke up with a crazy dream. You need to find a dream translator. Pronto.

    -You need a fan the size of a car.

    -You want to find a service where you can ride in a submarine. With windows if possible.

    -You are going to be King Arthur at a costume party. You need the closest thing to Excalibur.

    -You need to find the breakfast cereal with the highest amount of nutrition.

    -You want to find a Patrick Stewart signed poster.

    -You want to find out where to purchase a gigantic GMO fruit or vegetable.

  30. @Max: It’s a Visa Signature service. So any Visa Signature card will have it.

    I use the Schwab Visa signature card. Gives 2% cash back on everything directly into your Schwab brokerage account (which you can then easily transfer to any other bank account.) No foreign transaction fees (which is HUGE if you travel a lot!)

    I have the Chase Freedom Visa signature card too, but don’t use it any more because the Schwab card offers a far better deal.

    -Erica

  31. If everyone decides to prank the company and see how many hoops you can make the concierge jump through, the service will end up being discontinued. It’s also a kind of small and disrespectful wat to have fun at someone else’s expense and time. I found the 4HWW to be a very useful book and the follow-up postings were great, but Tim, I’ve recently found your posts to be unfocused, unhelpful and not such a great use of my time……and wasting time is not the goal of your book. May I suggest you reread some of your recent posts and think this through. I’d like to start getting useful information again.

  32. Just a quick note to all who think this is bad behavior.

    I agree that doing this continually could be, not to mention a waste of your own time, but…

    I think the purpose of life is to enjoy it. The concierge people are getting paid, and I’m sure those tasks are more interesting and amusing than most, so who’s hurt here?

    I don’t think there are any victims as long as you’re not rude about things. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    Tim

    1. Dear Tim,

      I admired your book. However, I really don’t like the idea of fooling the concierge around. If it was just a test run, it’s fine. They are trying to help you and there have been incidents about people calling the concierge for help during disaster like Hurricane Katrina and recent earthquake in Japan. If you were the one stuck in the wreckage and had to wait on the line just to reach the concierge after a long prank? Some people are oversea or do not know the emergency number. They called the concierge and of course they try their best to help. Seriously, it’s not funny to prank them.

  33. I am AMAZED by this article…. Social Media is enabling the power back to the people…. If you are not in the customer service business, you going to be out of business in the not to distant future…

    I will pay ALOT more to receive better service, from happy people… Life is too short!

    I can not get over this article…. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Brian0

  34. Just sent out 8 requests via email through their website.

    I clicked the email us link, highlighted the “I need help” tab and asked away.

    Looking forward to seeing the results. I like the email feature because I can be very

    detailed and thorough which I feel will bring back more accurate results. At the same time, I left a few questions open-ended to see how creative they can be.

    I would imagine having it written down is a lot easier for the assistants to refer to as well. Also, it took me so little time to type in a question that it seemed like the efficient way to go.

    Any thoughts on this Tim.

  35. Tim,

    A great piece of humor but even more helpful. We are traveling right now for 3 years, and a good concierge is vital.

    My husband is a serial surfer…I wonder if we can call and ask for the best surf spots?

    Thanks for your inspiration. Rhonda Swan ~UnstoppableFamily

  36. Hey Michael, the blog is called “Experiments in Lifestyle Design”…not “Blog for Michael”…go troll somewhere else.

  37. So is there a direct way to sign up for this card? The only option seems to be sign up for the mastercard version and try and hope you can be traded to visa and then get into the visa signature service.

  38. Here’s an update on my requests:

    All of my requests were answered and in my inbox within 2 hours.

    I’ve found that their online answers are not that personable and usually just involve links to websites they found through research. However, the information was pretty accurate and it was nice to see a second opinion.

    The tickets I asked for were really expensive, more than usual. Then again, that’s why they are able to offer this service for free. I am going to focus on the phone service next and hopefully get even more out of that.

    Thanks for the article Tim.

  39. Wow Tim. One more home run on improving our lifestyle with useful, efficient, and cost effective time savers. Currently in Chicago for a conference and spent an hour last week looking for modern yoga studios with massage in downtown.

    The concierge service took 3 min of my time and with the exact same result.

    There is an added benefit to these services as they have access to the credit card that provides you that benefit so that they can not only find the place but make the transaction happen as well.

    Flowers to Mom? $35? Charged to the card? 3 min the first time, less the second.

    Lifestyle improving by the minute… Thank you, Kent

  40. I’ve had the Amex black card for years. It’s travel and concierge services are second-to-none IMO, and they’ve saved my life while traveling (kinda sorta) many times. There’s basically nothing they won’t do if it’s legal, including getting you a table at an otherwise fully booked restaurant (and have the chef come out for a personal visit), a room at a booked hotel, great last-minute seats at concerts/events, and so on. The card fee is $3000 a year–well worth the personal service they deliver.

    It’s great to see other cards delivering similar services.

  41. Imagine getting a skilled puzzler solver. I wonder if they solve crimes too?

    It’s great to see customer service put to the test, and respond to the challenge.

  42. Hmm, reminds me of the tips Ramit Sethi talks about in his book about credit cards (and the companies).

    Great post, sounds like on of those articles written in a GQ magazine, etc., aka a very well written article.

  43. Very funny and this made my day. It usually takes a lot of time to get any service from credit card providers. I wonder if you can ring the concierge and ask them to check on your balance, card expiry, unauthorised use etc.

  44. Scott Miller …while AMEX Black may be pretty awesome, $250/mo. for card services is a little outta my price range. I guess if it’s a business expense, it could possible by justified. I’d need to see a cost/benefit ratio breakout. : )

  45. Do the cards in the USA carry an annual fee? So far, I’ve only found a few in Canada – most with annual fees of around $450 bucks.

  46. Tim,

    anyone without a credit card should be able to get most of what you obtained by simply calling their friendly public librarian. at no cost.

  47. So this is why I couldn’t get through,

    and why card providers are so expensive?

    You tied up lucid support reps who could have actually

    been helping people?

    Are you an only child?

  48. That’s absolutely hilarious!! There is no way you were the only one messing around with them too, seeing how far they would go for you. After this blog post gets read by TONS of people, I’m sure the number of Concierge experiments will increase.

    Will be interesting to hear what happens!

  49. That is the most halarious article from you that I know. The only critique that I can think of is the missing audio from you calls.

    As a follow up, you should ask your readers for their most challaging concierge service questions. I know its quit a hassle to go to all the answers, but I am sure VISA is going to help you out.

  50. This service seems unique, but I think it could violate one of the major concepts (at least in my mind) of the 4hww/lifestyle design: Eliminating distractions.

    It seems like many of the situations that this service was used for in the article, could probably be discovered online in 20-40 seconds. Where as using this service you have to call the number, probably enter in a code to ensure you are visa card holder, explain what information you are requesting, and make sure they understand it. Not to mention anytime spent on hold.

    Plus, when they do respond and call you back at 2pm the next day, it could distract you from an important task you are working on, thus breaking a rule of the 4hww.

    Although this service does Automate to some extent, I think the distraction and time it takes away from other tasks probably isn’t worth it.

    I’d be interested to see if this can be used for any services that would be more useful to a 4hww-er, like booking a flight, finding the best local restuarant if your in a foreign country, places to get spanish lessons, etc.

  51. Well what do you know, after reading this I looked closely at my AirTran VISA and it is a VISA Signature card, so I am already in! I too was unaware of this perk.

    Far from being “bad behavior,” I think John Hargrave’s article serves a serious purpose: Just how courteous and helpful is the VISA Signature Concierge (VSC) team willing to be? Quite a LOT, as he has reported. Also as a dry run, VSC’s fine reply to Brennan’s question about game fishing is an excellent testimonial to the quality of VSC’s research and work. Excellent tests of the system. Conclusion: Clearly VSC is serious about this service and its quality.

    With that established, I wouldn’t bog them down with a bunch of requests I have no interest in just as a goof. Kudos to Kent for sharing some “real” uses and success with this service. I’d like to read some more “real” uses of the service.

    John Hargrave (and Tim), thanks again for this post.

  52. Thanks to all who enjoyed the article (and to Tim for reposting it!) To follow up:

    1) I have since learned that it is the Chase Freedom SIGNATURE Visa Card that has the concierge service. Apparently there are other Chase Freedom cards that do not have the service. So ask for the Signature.

    2) I did eventually get a call back from a nervous Visa PR person about what they WON’T allow. She said that their concierges can’t do anything “illegal or unethical.” I asked who defines unethical, and she said if the concierge felt uncomfortable doing it, they’d pass it to a supervisor, who would make the final determination.

    So I guess the moral is, if you want Visa to help you smuggle Cuban cigars into the U.S., try to find the most unethical concierge you can!

  53. Nooooooooooooo! i want to know whats on the list!!

    please post it, i know you have it.

    one of the best articles i’ve read in a long time. thank you.

    J

  54. This is great! After 15 years in IT, I’m likely to go back to university and need a part-time job. Maybe I can become one of their concierges! It sounds totally entertaining.

  55. I love this. I’ve had the card for ages but never really pushed the boundaries in terms of requests – actually, I never made any! I’ve now used the visa concierge service three times this week in relation to some travel arrangements and impressed each time with the responses. Now for the Nacho cheese…

  56. Speaking as a person who provides the concierge service to Visa cardholders – I am glad you enjoy the service. Thank you for keeping us employed and there are limits to what we can do … so we don’t “obey” your every command. Lastly, we can find hard to find items but it does not mean you will not have to PAY for them.

  57. I’m not really that impressed with this… Like other people have said, that’s all information you could most likely find online. I’ve read way funnier articles about similar subjects, this just didn’t make me laugh at all.

  58. I’ve been reading Prank the Monkey material for years….Did he not tell us that he had NOT been knighted, but rather actually changed his name to “Sir?”

  59. Tim, I like your book and almost every of your post. But this one: Sorry mate,this article is useless. Puzzle solver ??? As I said, nobody needs it, waste of time. I am pretty sure, your next post will be interesting again.

    Regards from Germany,

    Markus

  60. Is there a follow up to this story? I mean what did they say the following Monday? It’s a great article and I’m looking forward to getting my Visa Chase card but you kinda stopped short….Please….I would like to know how it ends…

  61. 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?

  62. 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.

  63. 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

  64. 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.

  65. 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

  66. 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!

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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!

  70. 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.

    1. 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

  71. 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.

  72. 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!

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

    1. 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

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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?”

    😛

  79. 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.

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

    Anyone catch the reference? 🙂

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

  83. 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.

  84. 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

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

  87. 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!

  88. 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

  89. 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.”

  90. 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.

  91. 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!

  92. 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.

  93. 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.

  94. 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….

  95. 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

  96. 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.

  97. 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!

  98. 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!

  99. 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.

    1. 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

  100. 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.

  101. 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 🙂

  102. 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?

  103. 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.

  104. 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

  105. 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!

  106. 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.

  107. 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

  108. 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?

  109. 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.

    1. 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

  110. 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. 🙂

  111. 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?

  112. 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.

  113. 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!!!

  114. 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!

  115. 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

  116. 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…

  117. 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.

  118. 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.

  119. 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.

  120. 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.

  121. 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.

  122. 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.

  123. 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.

  124. 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.

  125. 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.

  126. 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.

  127. 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.

    1. 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.

  128. 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.

  129. 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.

  130. 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)

  131. 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!

  132. 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

  133. Hey, I thought everyone knew that Kevin Bacon was in Wild Things! He did a nude near the end.

    Loved the experiment =)

  134. FFFF, why won’t any banks with this kind of customer satisfaction (we have Signature VISAs here, yet, the concierge service is merely lip service) here.

    Well, someday it _will_ happen.

  135. Ivan:

    I imagine here is Russia/Warsaw Pact countries. I wouldn’t wait around for banks to provide such concierge service, be ready to pay for it or find out on your own. Waiting to get something for free ain’t a good business plan.

    Cheers,

    Zach

  136. Hey Tim – great post! I’ve known about the concierge service for some time, but thought they only came with big annual fees. What a great surprise to find the signature logo on my no-fee VISA card! 🙂

    Also, I see that many readers completely missed Sir John Hargrave’s sarcastic tone. Get a copy of his book Prank the Monkey and prepare to laugh violently – then you’ll really understand what it’s all about.

    This post reminded me that testing boundaries from time to time is important. Just don’t over do it – services like these are a privilege and not an entitlement. Even John knew when to back off when he started becoming annoying.

  137. Hey Tim,

    That was hilarious!!! I haven’t laughed this hard in months…and could hardly finish reading the post! I will have to get one of these cards just to experience this level of help!!! I agree way better than pulling an iphone out.

    Many thanks my good man, love the clear thinking and discipline that you bring to your work- still working through your book- still working on the speed reading aspect of things.

    Cheers

    Rahim

  138. This is great. I am going to use these examples to test the agents in our call center to see if they can handle it. I expect that after a few days I will arrive at my office to find my desk covered in liquid cheese.

  139. Glad to see I’m not the only one who immediately thought, “Wait. Anyone can get any of this from their local librarian.” No need to have a special credit card for it.

  140. This might get buried here, but I’ve already seen two companies that are charging for this same level of service. In fact, their list of “what we cannot do for you” is strikingly similar to that of Visa’s… more than likely just a guy who got a card and is charging people for him to access the service.

    Brilliant!

  141. Tim,

    I called visa concierge and asked them “Who can help me get into the Guiness Book of World Records for the fastest developed ecommerce drop-ship protein-product website?”

    They said, “I’ll have your answer by 2pm tomorrow.”

    Sure enough, they got back to me with: “Tim Ferris.” and all your company contact info. and explained to me that you are the single most likely company to do this. ??

    Crazy. eh?

    I had to explain to them “Look, I’m not asking what man has the most potential to do what I’m trying to do…. I own the domain name to do this, I’m asking who can get it done?”

    They said, “That wasn’t your question, sir.”

    haha…

    they’re right.

    so, I guess it’s you Tim.

    Feel like setting a record for the “fastest start up to success protein product dropship ecommerce website?”

  142. This was hilarious! I love this twisted humor. Far better than jackass in that it has an intelligent edge!

    Thanks for the laugh…grabbing my visa as I write this…

  143. Brain Thanks.

    What a hoot, I laugh so hard I thought I was going to ——— myself. I am still laughing. Never thought CC company would give service. I am going to apply for one of those card. Thank you. PEACE Chipo

  144. Just tried it myself but came up empty. I told them I wanted to drive from CT to CA with my 4 year-old son and wanted a list of 10-15 recommended stops along the way. Seemed easy to me, but she said it was “outside the scope” of what they do. I asked why and she told me it was because it was too broad, and because it was a nationwide request , and she doesn’t know what road I’m even taking. I told her that’s what I want her to recommend, and she recommended that I call AAA. She offered to provide 3 recommendations but I needed to tell her which route I’d be driving and specify the states.

    Perhaps my request was, in fact, too broad but it seemed like an easy one to me. Or perhaps Ferriss-mania has required Visa Signature to tighten the scope of their requests.

  145. my own experience was with amex centurion, I arrived in Shanghai without any dress socks and had to go to a meeting which required a suit. I called the concierge in Hong Kong where I live. Half an hour later there is a guy at the door with two pairs of socks one black one navy blue.

    Perfect!

  146. Tim,

    I read your book and really enjoyed. I’m stil trying to find something that will produce an automatic income stream. I can understand using the signature services for booking hotels/airfares/concerts, but the examles in the article could have been found with a simple google search within seconds instead of waiting days for the someone to e-mail you back.

  147. Tim,

    This article amused me. The naysayers need to lighten up. Apparently some people have 0 sense of humor. I also like the fact that he got the concierge to actually display a sense of humor, that alone is a small miracle in telephone customer service these days. I’ve learned a lot from you Tim and it’s always appreciated.

    On a different note, sometimes its almost as much fun to read the comments as the post.

    Thanks Again!

  148. True story: I was in Beijing at the Temple of Heaven when my wife’s wedding ring fell into a snow bank after she took a glove off. We were able to use AMEX Platinum concierge to find a metal detector in Beijing in less than 3 hours. We returned to the snow bank, metal detector in hand, and shortly found the ring.

  149. This is huge. I am departing to make use of these instances to test the agents in our identify center to observe if they can grip it. I anticipate that after a little time I will appear at my workplace to find my desk enclosed in gooey cheese.

  150. Thanks for this article! Realized that I have a black Visa signature card, so I just registered w their concierge service.

    I need a replacement seat for my Miata convertible, so I asked them to contact the junkyards within 100 miles of me to find one for less than $200. I’ll let you know how they do!

  151. VISA Concierge requests have probably exploded since this article has been written, and my last two requests (not crazy) have been denied as they are “out of our scope of expertise”

  152. I will tell you that our concierge center has exploded. we can not hire and train fast enough to keep up with the demand for concierge services. In fact it has come to a balance where the Budget is strained. We are a non income producing benefit so there is a fine balance between providing a service to our cardholders and becoming a cost liability. We are still trying to process every request but have found that we are also recieving more and more requests that are “out of our scope of expertise” Even on these request we try to provide a service and provide you with links or contact information where you might be able to track down the needed information. As a result our turn around time has gone from hours to a week in some cases. Please be kind to your concierge and realize that they are working under increasingly stressful conditions.

  153. Some of you don’t get the point that the article was tongue in cheek fun showing off a useful service.

    Of course they are using the web, Google etc…, to get the information. But think about it for a moment and put it into $. Depending on the need and the time you will spend calling a person vs. the time you spend researching your self and collating the information you can save money.

    I play pool. I travel a lot. I like to know where the pool rooms are where I am going. I don’t always have or better said I don’t always make the time to find out where they are and map them out for the cities I am going to. Consequently I have spent time in hotel rooms trying to find out the best place to go play.

    It would be nice to be able to call someone and have them send me a compiled list of what they found. Their list might end up being useless or it might be a good starting point. And they might find something I wouldn’t have.

    Plus you get to interact with another person in a pleasant manner.

    Plus I imagine that they can be very helpful if you do have a real “situation”. I am sure that they can provide some forms of help that you wouldn’t get from just surfing the web.

    Think of it like this – they surf the web to find answers but they are motivated to find you good answers as “good” answers are the currency of their job. So they probably have a shared “consciousness” of sorts when it comes to tracking down the best answers. I wouldn’t be surprised to know that they have their own internal search to mine their own answers for similar questions as well as just announcing to their colleagues that they have a question and need some help answering it.

    Now, for me personally though I don’t think I am going to be getting a card and paying a fee for a service that I would rarely use. However if that service was part of the card’s features then I might use it once in a while. AFTER I wean myself off the habit of doing it all myself first.

    I would like to point out that Google’s text-search is pretty impressive as well for a free concierge-super-lite type thing. In the USA you can text your question to GOOG411 (I think) and within minutes you will get a text back with information. I have used it a lot and most of the time it brings back the right info. (see pool hall searches above).

  154. I usually Google and usually like doing things myself. But sometimes I have found myself in a situation where it’s been much harder than it should be — like finding a decent laundromat in D.C. near my hotel or on the Metro. (Apparently almost everyone in that city has them located in their building) That’s when these folks can come in really handy.

    @Concierge – was it this article that caused the explosion?

  155. This article is hysterical. I never liked the idea of having a concierge do tasks for me, but practically, the time savings that could result make sense. Just signed up with a Chase Sapphire card that has a concierge service so I’m going to make sure I use them next time I’m in need of a giant tub of nacho cheese.

  156. I found this article to be hilarious. It made me wonder about what I would do with this service and I couldn’t come up with anything too useful.

    It also made me wonder what the top 10 requests are for this visa concierge service.

  157. has anyone heard who VISA use for their concierge service?

    i’d be surprised if it’s all done in house – these services are normally handled by a third party partner?

  158. This is quote possibly one of the funniest posts ever. Though I am very glad I do not work as a customer service representative. Working in a retail service industry I feel slightly bad for these people you’re ‘pranking’.

    I will be sure to find recommendations for my space vacation on the awesomely named Virgin Galactica next week though. ; )

  159. Just called Chase and had my card upgraded for this… can’t wait to see where this leads! Going to ask for a list of kid-friendly places to go around D.C. for our upcoming vacation!

  160. Wow Tim, tough crowd! Most people seem to have enjoyed the post (and got the humour) while others criticize you for everything from having too much fun, to not writing enough, to being rude(even though you didn’t write the article!) I was surprised to see that you responded to some whereas personally I wouldn’t have. I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not- I think you just gotta keep doing your own thing and maybe not explain yourself to some people. Let them work it out for themselves. It was interesting however to see all the various points of view- from black to white, and everything in between. Great site, keep up the good work! (Oh, and where are the ads???More ads please:)

  161. Tim,

    This is a fantastic post! Glad you highlighted this. 🙂

    Just ran across a similar and more recent one here: http://goo.gl/K1QcS

    Covers all the ins and outs of concierge service.

    Keep up the great work!

  162. Stumbled on this because I’m trying to figure out why Chase sent me a new Visa card with the exact same numbers and expiration as the old one. But I notice it does not have the concierge number on it anymore. I think I’ll call and ask why!

  163. I agree with Tim. I actually am a concierge and work for this company. We take our customers very seriously and most cardholders call for emergency reasons, or to sincerely receive information that they are not able to find themselves. Please do not waist our time with prank calls.

    Dear Tim,

    I admired your book. However, I really don’t like the idea of fooling the concierge around. If it was just a test run, it’s fine. They are trying to help you and there have been incidents about people calling the concierge for help during disaster like Hurricane Katrina and recent earthquake in Japan. If you were the one stuck in the wreckage and had to wait on the line just to reach the concierge after a long prank? Some people are oversea or do not know the emergency number. They called the concierge and of course they try their best to help. Seriously, it’s not funny to prank them

  164. This post is hilarious, I will have to check out a concierge card next time I’m allowed a credit card!

    Which will be In around 7 years once my credit score is back to normal I expect!!

  165. This post is very funny and also interesting. I might have to try this with my credit card concierge. I never thought they would go so far for their customers!

    Haha I guess it is the least they can do with the extreme rates they charge, not to mention fees.

  166. I love this! I have this service with my card, but I’ve been too tentative to actually use it. I think I’ll see what kind of concert tickets they can come up with! Thanks.

    1. I’m not sure how they “deserved” anything. All I see is someone harassing minimum-wage call-center employees :\

  167. Oh my goodness. I have not laughed this hard in FOREVER! Brilliant. All because I didn’t know what a concierge would do for a credit card service. Now I know! You ROCK!

  168. I just want to say that it is not accurate that requests are sent oversees to be fulfilled. They are actially fulfilled by the concierge the cardholder speaks to on the phone; unless he is not in the office the next day in which case a colleague of his, from a Canada or USA office will assist.

  169. I don’t think the standard Chase Freedom Card anymore has it. Maybe they upgraded the ranking system. The AMEX Sky blue is pretty neat. I’ll check out and see if they have concierge services.

  170. This was incredibly entertaining to read! I’m a hotel concierge in San Francisco, so it’s funny to read what other types of concierges go through when getting information. They should give you a commission, I’m totally wanting one of these signature cards now!

  171. this is a great post i know its several years old but it still had the info i needed and it made me laugh while reading. i never did use their concierge program and was wondering about it. did a quick google search and your blog popped up. thanks for the info and im sure to be using their service in the near future.

  172. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your

    sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later on. Many thanks

  173. You are so interesting! I do not suppose I have read through a single thing like this before.

    So wonderful to discover somebody with unique thoughts on this

    topic. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with a

    little originality!

  174. After I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any way you may remove me from that service? Thanks!

  175. I used to love this guy’s website Zug.com. I was pretty bummed when it closed down a couple of years ago. I’m glad to see he’s still going strong!

  176. I work for a Fortune 500 insurance company that also provides Employee Assistance Program benefits. These EAP benefits include a work/life department that provides these types of concierge level searches. Additionally we provide in-the-moment counseling crisis services that are given by professional clinicians: so your requested affirmations are our pleasure.

  177. So when I first read this article I was disappointedly thinking this service would be US only. No way we’d have it in Canada. But a quick trip to Google taught me, not only is concierge service available in Canada, but it’s on the Visa card I already carry!!!

    I just called them and talking to Andre, my concierge was as much fun as reading the blog article! I’ve got him trying to find me the puppet from the movie Purple Rain. He did start of on Google, but I had already tried that before and I knew it was a dead-end. They’ve got their work cut out for them!

    Also I made Andre promise to watch Purple Rain tonight and will be quizzing him the next I speak to him, I also sent him the link to this article. Hi Andre!

    T.

  178. Dear Tim et. all,

    I am a concierge with Black Card Visa and we have a similar service. Just to let you know, we do not use the Philippines or other outsourcing techniques for our research or to fill requests. I have had calls similar to yours, especially the “Money is no object, but I am on a budget” statements. I am glad you found your concierge with a sense of humour, I know with our company a sense of humour and yet taking each request seriously is vital to fulfilling our duties.

    Some of my requests have involved a trip to place a flag in the Antarctic, life size Star Wars statues (could not find in budget specified so I offered mannequin information, costumes to fit and wigs matching hairstyles with nearby hairdressers willing to fix the wigs to style), live butterflies in boxes to be released when birthday candles were blown out, and other fascinating and imaginative requests.

    Have a great weekend!

    Alison C

  179. Hilarious read, it looks like the Visa team has a pretty good handled on what they should and shouldn’t cover. I think I would’ve been uncomfortable with them giving those life affirmations if it wasn’t obviously a joke.

  180. Awesome article, you are a great writer. I wonder whether the concierges are intrigued to have an interesting challenge or just annoyed with calls like yours. I can’t help but have enormous respect for them, I am not sure I could display such poise and efficiency. I never realized I had such a valuable credit card in my pocket, and to think I was about to cancel it. I am holding on to my signature card, who knows when I might need a bucket of cheese?

  181. I was just reading a book about this a few weeks ago – it gives scripts and everything about all the ways that you can get Visa and MC to do what you want them to do… since they are, after all, pretty much at the mercy of their customers, it’s just that most customers don’t realize this.

    Kudos on the article! Good read!

  182. Visa concierge: ‘Regarding shopping requests, we do assist with requests for difficult to find items which include, but are not limited to, the following:

    Rare bottles of wine/liquor

    Rare books

    Rare sports memorabilia’

  183. I asked visa concierge to help me research for a mini fridge purchase but they replied saying ‘We are now focusing on our core competencies. Unfortunately, the service that you requested is outside of our scope of support. We do however, help design trips, help with a special occasion, arrange for the perfect gift, or set up dinner reservations.’

  184. After reading this article I decided to try this out. I contacted Visa Concierge to have them compile a list of lawyers in my area that work on contingency. I received the reply that the request was beyond the scope of their services but they could help me with travel, dining, and entertainment arrangements only.

  185. Nice work!! On a side note, the researchers of your tasks actually aren’t sent overseas which makes this service even better in my opinion. I knew an employee of the Visa concierge service and they take the call and do the research right there with their team of coworkers. The person taking your call may not necessarily do the research, but it is certainly being done by a trained professional in their office in the United States.

  186. Hmm. This is an interesting article. I’ve had this signature card for over a year now, but have never used this service. Figured I would look into it and enjoyed the article.

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