I've read several reports that failing to use the link will disqualify a customer from getting an online upgrade bonus (though Amex will often give something upon request).
Your situation is not unusual.
it was my guess that i didn't get my bonus for this reason... however, the representative i chatted with should have told me this... i initiated the chat only for this promotion.. and that rep offered to upgrade it for me.. so.. doesn't this seem like Amex's fault though??
They could definitely add some language to the offer to say you must use the link.
Amex has its strengths...I'm happy with my Platinum...but they are very fussy about link offers for promotions and new accounts.