My wife sent me the link late Saturday night. I was exhausted from driving non-stop through fog and rain for 13 hours and then hitting the gym for a run to loosen up. The product was perfect, all the parts for a swing set my kids would love. It was almost too good to be true but the online store was set up on a major site that I assumed would back me up if it wasn’t real, plus my mother-in-law had found it and she’s pretty thorough. So I charged my AMEX and went to sleep.

Three days later I went to check on my order and the site was cleared out.

Ghost town.

No swing set parts for Christmas.

And I was out $173.

I contacted support for the major site who told me — in essence — they were not going to do anything and that I should contact my card company if I wanted resolution.

I popped open my American Express app on my phone — from a Starbucks between meetings — and told support what happened. Five minutes later a new AMEX was being overnighted and I was refunded my $173.

This was personal but there are lessons for leaders at any level of any organization.

Takeaways

  • None of us are too smart to fall for a scam. Not you, not me, no one. I catch a lot of this stuff for a living, but at the right moment I was still susceptible
  • Long-term risk mitigation matters. I use American Express because of their reputation for extraordinary customer service. When I chose the card I chose one that would back me up when it mattered. One great decision made years ago continues to protect me.
  • Vendors matter. I’ve had to work with American Express on fraud issues before. They’ve never let me down, that’s why I stay with them. Who is there for you when it matters?