WaMu’s Friendly Layout Gets Customer Robbed

A man is suing Washington Mutual’s for being robbed at knifepoint for $20,805 after leaving the bank.

According to Jaime Quiroz Sanchez’s suit, he was mugged by a man who saw his cashola laid out on a WaMu “teller towers” where employees stand at open-air kiosks, face to face with customers, without benefit of windows or bars.

During Sanchez’s transaction that day, the teller held $100 one at a time up to the light, then walked away to speak with a manager.

“It seemed like an eternity to me,” Sanchez recalled. “He left $20,000 sitting on that little podium. How many times have you looked at a pile of money like that? I looked to the right and the left, and everyone was looking at me. And I could tell the people weren’t having good thoughts.”

Apparently it’s not just customers who find WaMu’s open-air layout more user-friendly.

Client Faults WaMu Layout in Robbery” [LAT]

Comments

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  1. Aruba, Jamaica, dude! … oh, wait, now it disappeared.

  2. Greyseeker says:

    If you wander around with over $20,000 in cash that you’ve taken out in a single transaction you deserve to be robbed. As Bugs would say, ‘What a Maroon.’

  3. Wow at 5 seconds per 100$ bill, that’s close to 17 minutes worth of looking for counterfeits.

  4. GenXCub says:

    I have mixed feelings on this one. Firstly, WaMu is at fault for being stupid. This practice shouldn’t be done in this way. However, to claim that they are responsible for being robbed is making a serious leap. When lottery winners get put on TV with the big fake check, can you sue the TV Stations if the lotter winner gets robbed?

    Flagging someone for having a lot of money isn’t smart, but I’m dubious of anyone making the leap saying they’re responsible for the crime. I’d have to see all the evidence, or a youtube of the transaction.

  5. Bluefreak says:

    Greyseeker–if you read the article, he was actually trying to get the cash exchanged into a cashier’s check, but the bank refused the money because his driver’s license had expired, and hadn’t just withdrawn 20 grand. He was robbed as he was leaving the bank to go to the DMV to renew his license–he claims he even told the teller that he was uncomfortable leaving the branch with such a large sum of cash.

  6. gotbock says:

    While I sympathize, leaving a bank with 20k in cash seems like an opportune time to request that security escort you to your car.

    Though the bank really should provide some consideration for customer privacy, especially in situations like this one.

  7. Triteon says:

    Going afield…
    When lottery winners get put on TV with the big fake check, can you sue the TV Stations if the lotter winner gets robbed?

    Maybe, but several lotteries require a release of information; from the Missouri Lottery website (part of the PowerBall network):
    It’s your decision whether or not to participate in a news conference. However, your name and hometown are considered public information, and they will be released to the media. Not only is this information public by law, publishing it is necessary to ensure the integrity of the Lottery’s games.

  8. bxurbanlegend says:

    This is ridiculous, this guy wants to sue because he made several mistakes which ended up in him getting robbed. It almost looks like he set this whole thing up. Fact, people get robbed at the bank all the time. Open air or not, chances are you are being watched as you hand over your cash to the teller and as you leave the bank.

    I’ve been a long standing WaMu customer and I’ve never had any bad experiences at my branch. I regularly deal with large cash transactions and if I feel uneasy about it I ask to be seen in private and I am accommodated. This is just all his fault and he should have gone about it in a more safe and secure manner.

  9. Asherah says:

    Okay, I’m jumping in on this with since in my ole’ banking days I handled large cash transactions (deposits and withdrawls) where clients came in with upwards of 100K, regularly. First, many of these clients were regulars, so they had multiple men and women on hand when they entered and left the bank, they were prepared for this type of thing (mostly gas station owners/operators). My former institution however, made any customer who chose to withdraw more than 25K in cash, sign a waiver which indicated that the bank waived all liability in the case of sort of robbery as they left the bank and there was also a statement that we advised the customer against such practices. Yet, so many individuals still proceeded, foolishly.

  10. Ben Popken says:

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  12. tedonion says:

    Whenever you make a large cash withdrawl, ask yourself, do I really need this in cash? Would a cashier’s check, or electronic transfer be better? If you decide you do need the cash, ask to be served in private and for a security escort to your car. Any bank should accomodate your needs, or you should not be banking there.

  13. Kat says:

    Attempting to close the wayward italics tag…

  14. Ben Popken says:

  15. Ben Popken says:

    cha cha cha

  16. Ben Popken says:

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  17. LafinJack says:

    Trying to kill the rampant italics tag up there.

    Testing…

  18. OnoSideboard says:

    I’m a bit late to the show, but just wanted to throw my lawyerly $0.02 in.

    This guy might actually have a leg to stand on in suing WaMu if he can show that WaMu had foreseen the safety issues of their new layout, or that they should have. Ashera’s comment about the financial institution that required customers with large amounts of cash to sign a release is pretty damning evidence that this is a danger that banks know about.

    There have been all kinds of crazy lawsuits alleging a far-fetched connection between a crime and someone else’s actions. For instance, a newspaper has been held liable for a subscriber’s house being robbed when they continued delivering newspapers to the house despite the vacationing subscriber requesting a stop on delivery.

    It sounds ridiculous, because we’re not talking about a slip-and-fall but about a intentional crime being committed by a third person, but places of business do have a duty to customers to not create or enhance the risk of a crime.

  19. Sanchez said he told the teller he didn’t feel comfortable leaving the branch with all that cash. “He said, ‘I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do,’ ” Sanchez said.

    That doesn’t sound like they would have given him an escort. I mean, if there’s a time to offer an escort it is when the customer says, “I don’t feel comfortable waltzing over to the DMV with all the money you just spent 20 minutes holding up in the air.”

    In Sanchez’s view, the staff at WaMu’s Palmdale branch had every reason to accommodate him. Though his personal deposits were at other banks, he had about a dozen mortgages with WaMu on his personal and investment properties as well as credit lines secured by the real estate.

    You’d think they could have held his money for him.

  20. pjskull says:

    The man can blame the Federal Government for the bank’s refusal on this. Any purchase of negotiable instruments at a bank (Bank Check, Traveler’s Cheques, etc.) of over $3,000 requires valid ID. (Fed Reg known as the Bank Secrecy Act.) Also, since the passing of the Patriot Act, banks have big penalties for failing to get valid (unexpired) ID. (Chasing Al-Quaeda money, etc.) So, the bank did the right thing, and why is this idiot trying to get a cashier’s check where he does not have one single bank account, only home loans? Oh, that’s right, it’s America, sue your way to riches. This also smells like setup to me. 85% of bank robbers get caught, but some guy is on security pictures, and the cops have no leads… hmmm…