February 9, 2008

New License, New Bank Card, Amex?

Posted in Identification, transgender at 5:49 pm by Michael

Couple of identity milestones today. I finally got to the DOL to get my new license with the “F” on it. It was amazingly uneventful. After waiting in the line for 20 minutes, my number was called, I went up to the counter, showed the woman my letter, gave her my old license and $10 (the fee), and 10 minutes later, I had my temporary license with an “F” on it. The new permanent one should come within a week or so.

I also had to get a new bank card for two reasons. First, my card got turned off Wednesday because the bank found a card reader on one of its ATMs, and I had used that ATM during the suspect time. Blammo – no ATM card. We had 12 hours notice.

Secondly, I hadn’t changed my name with the bank yet.

I just went into the branch, gave them the old bank card, my new license and my old license, and in ten minutes, I walked out with a new ATM card with my name on it, and whaddaya know, it worked!

Good times.

However, Amex has been super painful. In December, I asked them about the name change procedure, and they said I needed to change it first with the SSA. They sent me the name change form, and at that time told me that after I changed it with the SSA, then to send in the form, and about a week later I’d get a card. No problemo.

January 2nd, after changing my name with the SSA, I filled out the form and sent it in. Note, all the form asked for was my card number, mailing address, old name, new name, and signatures (old and new – which are the same for me – I scribble anyway!).

Three weeks later, I get a lovely letter from Amex saying that my name change request has been rejected due to lack of documentation, such as a copy of my new SSA card or license with my new name on it.

I called customer service last Friday and asked what they actually needed, as this documentation requirement isn’t on any of the forms, their website, or what any of their agents tell you when you call to talk to them about this.

The person I talked to said that they require documents when their “database” (more on this later) of SS numbers and names doesn’t yet have your new name. As a result, they needed the documentation. However, I could just fax it in, and I got the number to use.

I sent in all the required stuff last Friday (license, legal name change order, their letter, and a cover letter).

I was expecting to come home this week from my business trip to find a new Amex card in the mail.


I called today to find out what the problem was this time. I called the “Name Change Department” at Amex, and asked what the deal was. The rep said, and this was mind boggling (or Bottling):

“We changed your name on the account, but we didn’t send you out a new card because you need to ask for that separately.”

“Wha? Why on earth would I ask you to change my name if I didn’t want a card issued with that new name?”

It didn’t help with my attitude with this dude that he kept “sir’ing” me even after I corrected him four times. I just said “It’s not Sir or Ma’am just Megan, ok?”

He said that he would send out a new card via overnight so I’d get it by Tuesday. I was still kind of pissed because this was literally the fourth time I’ve talked to them about this, and gotten four different answers. I asked to talk to a supervisor.

I told the supervisor the whole story, including the dumbass “We didn’t give you a new card because you didn’t ask for one” line, and he was more apologetic, and at least recognized that their process is fundamentally broken.

He told me something very interesting about the whole “database” issue though. It turns out that its just a credit inquiry. Since I’ve not yet applied for credit with my new name under my SS number, no one has it. This was the root cause of all the crazy doc requests.

I said to him: “Why would that method ever work? Wouldn’t anyone changing their name have this exact problem – that when they ask to change their name, that they probably have no other credit yet under that new name?”

“Yeah, that doesn’t make sense does it?”

I haven’t gotten this frustrated with a company in a while. At this point, I felt like he needed to understand why I was so insistent about this.

“Look, I’m a transgendered person. I don’t look like Michael anymore, I look like Megan. Every time I pull out my Amex card, I out myself. I’m not really happy about that. Can you please help me, and make sure that this gets taken care of this time?”

Anh and I are going on vacation later this week (Friday), and we like to use our Amex card to pay for stuff. Its a win-win for us and Amex. I’m a big fan of float.

“Later this week, we are going out of the country. I’m really looking forward to using my new Amex card to pay for everything, right?”

“Yes Ms. Wallent, I want to make that possible too.”

We’ll see…



  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Aaron Wakling

  2. Karen said,

    I was perusing your site today to see how you are doing, and saw the AMEX post… holy smokes. I just changed my name with AMEX last week. I called up, told them I got married, gave them my new name, they asked me for some identifying numbers on the card, where I wanted the new one sent, and viola! I had a new card in the mail to me the next day. I did not have to provide any documentation on my new name or my new address. I could have been anyone with a stolen card! And I have no credit in my new name yet either… seems like a bit of a double standard there. What a shame that you had to go through that.

    Megan>> Hmm… that is kind of spooky that it was so different. So weird – they were insistent that they send me a form to my mailing address, and then I had to mail (not fax) it back. Clearly a broken process.

    Oh, and I got an automated message from them this morning that my card may not come today because of “Bad Weather”. Oh well….

  3. Karen said,

    Good Grief! Only “verification” I got was an email the next day saying “Your new card (no, I did not have to ask for one) is being sent to the address you indicated. If you did not apply for a name change on your card, call us.” Crazy.

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