American Express Informative - Still waiting for an apology
CALIFORNIA -- I'm not really waiting for an apology but just reminiscing about my experience 30 years ago this April.
My friend and I decided to spend some time driving the coast of California. We visited a lot of great places and we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco around midnight in late April of 1981.
The next day we toured the town a bit in my 77 trans am and even stopped to chat with a nice S. F. police officer and we asked him for directions to a hotel or restaurant. I can't really recall where we were heading but little did I know we'd be seeing him again real soon.
We checked into a hotel and settled down around the swimming pool. One of the workers at the hotel even let us put our beer in the ice cooler. Couldn't have been more relaxing. That was until a about half of the S. F. police department and swat team showed up.
They hopped the pool fence and pretty well had us surrounded by what had to be one of the most impressive collection of weapons owned by any police department in the United States.
I still remember the various pistols, shot guns and rifles all pointing mostly towards our heads. Some were inches away and a few stood out such as the Dirty Harry Swiss and Weston. I could see that some of the swat team were also taking aim at us from a balcony over looking the pool. I later found out that there was a news crew there to document what was supposed to be a major crime bust.
We were told to put our hands on our heads, then someone ordered us to put our hands behind our backs, then our heads, then our backs until we were basically doing jumping jacks without the jumping. I finally asked them "what do you want us to do with our hands" which put an end to our hand waving and we were then placed in handcuffs.
So I guess there was a ten million dollar travellers check bank robbery in Montreal and our checks were close to the serial numbers that were taken in the heist. Close but not the same apparently and we ended up getting a free night in the hotel because the clerk phoned it in.
I don't think anyone was too happy that they had the wrong guys except for my friend and myself. We joked with the officer about asking him for directions earlier and we were just relieved that we weren't going off to jail.
That's the short version of the events of that afternoon, but my issue with American Express is that none of the major banks would cash in my checks and exchange them for new ones. We finally convinced an angry bank manager in Santa Barbara to exchange them for cash or Thomas Jeffersons but that cost me a few bucks for the transaction. This was after a few calls to American Express and following their instructions.
I talked to my bank when I got back home but I never heard back from American Express and being very young, I guess I just let it go. A refund still would of been nice for the few bucks that I lost. At least it would have shown that someone at head office cared a bit when one of their customers ends up staring down the barrel of over a dozen weapons because we were using A. E's checks.
It doesn't really matter anymore but in any event I thought that this was an interesting story to share.
I still have credit cards but I'm still hesitating on getting one from American Express. I guess I just don't want to ever again suffer standing in my shorts in the hot sun and watching my beer go flat because I'm wearing some nice, tight steel handcuffs.