Why a limited roll out of a credit card security program does not work

American Express has apparently started a program called "SafeKey". It's something like "Verified by Visa", except that instead of rolling it out worldwide, they decided to start out in the UK.

What's the problem with a limited roll-out of something like this?

It means that if you go, armed with your American Amex card, to British Airways's website, you can not pay for a ticket.  This is the only card I have that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees (British Airways, in its infinite wisdom, wants to charge me for the tickets in Indian rupees), so I really wanted to use the Amex.

British Airways says it is an Amex problem -- the card is getting declined by their verification system.  Amex says it is a British Airways problem -- the transaction is declined by the common system that handles "Verified by Visa" and "SafeKey".

The American Express support person got belligerent when I tried to explain the problem to him and asked how I could enroll my card in SafeKey. He had not heard of SafeKey, and kept insisting it was a merchant's custom program, and not anything to do with Amex.  The British Airways rep essentially threw up his hands while maintaining his posh accent and polite voice.  Sigh.

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