ON HOLD: Is it Okay to Call an American Express Executive at Home?
I was really, really, REALLY angry at American Express, which was dunning me for money I didn’t owe. (I’ll tell the story in a separate post, when I’ve calmed down.) And I couldn’t find anyone at the company willing to address the problem.
So I went to the American Express website (specifically, the Investor Relations page, where there’s a list of top executives). Three or four clicks later, I had found the man I knew could help.
Judson C. Linville
President & CEO Consumer Services
But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find an office phone number for Mr. Linville. And I figured that if I called the company’s main number, I would end up back in customer service hell, which was already feeling like my home away from home.
With nothing to lose, I clicked over to the AOL White Pages, and typed in (first name) Judson, (last name) Linville, and hit return. There it was: his home address and home phone number. (It helps, of course, that Judson Linville isn’t an everyday name. Just try finding Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx.)
I salivated: the home address and number of an executive of a company that had been torturing me for weeks. Should I call? Write him a letter and mail it? (Or even drop it off at his front door? His home is in a town I happen to spend time in.)
I asked friends what they thought. A few said I should go ahead and phone him. At least one said I should call at dinnertime; turnabout is fair play.
Others thought that calling him at home was a clear breach of etiquette, or ethics. I wavered, afraid to cross the line, although I wasn’t sure where the line was, or who had drawn it.
But then I remembered: American Express had been calling me at home, repeatedly. And they had even called a relative, who had nothing to do with the dispute, hoping to track me down.
So I picked up the phone and dialed Mr. Linville’s home. I left a polite message on his voicemail, asking him to call me from his office.
Would you have made that call? Or is the home of a “consumer services” executive somehow sacrosanct (unlike the home of a mere customer, of course)?
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