Walgreens Apologizes For Insinuating Reader Might Be Committing Check Fraud

Reader DudeAsInCool got an apology from Walgreens and a $20 coupon after submitting his complaint over the hassle he was put through when trying to pay with a check. Somehow the who/what/when/why/where/how of his purchase tripped Walgreen’s check verification service, Certegy, and he had to go through a ridiculous phone call in order to get his check cleared.

“In short, they said that while Certegy does help them with the battle against consumer fraud, sometimes their practices hurt their good Walgreen’s customers,” wrote DudeAsInCool. “Thanks for posting my letter so other consumers won’t be insulted and inconvenienced in the future… We should be able to use whatever form of payment we want to, when we want to and however we want to.”

— BEN POPKEN

PREVIOUSLY: Statistically Speaking, His Check Was Fraudulent
(Photo: Zepfanman.com)

Comments

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  1. homerjay says:

    Whats a “CHECK?”
    I’d be embarassed to be writing a check in a retail store.

  2. erock0 says:

    Why are they apologizing for protecting consumers from check fraud? Boo Hoo, Walgreens wouldn’t take my check so I’ll make a big stink about it. These stores are not obligated to sell thing to you if you don’t like the terms of sale, including going through a screening process to ensure YOUR payment is not bogus. Shit happens, big whoop.

  3. DudeAsInCool says:

    I guess it’s politically incorrect to write a check these days to some, but as I told the Consumerist in my email, how I wish to pay for something is my business, and nothing to do with the topic at hand, which was corporate invasion of consumer records.

  4. DudeAsInCool says:

    eRocko: Walgreen’s didn’t screen the check, Citgergy did, and both companies have agreed that Citergy made an error in their process and have corrected it. Tell me how this protected you.

  5. rg says:

    What’s hard to beleive is that there are still people writing checks at stores!

  6. Bourque77 says:

    Some people prefer checks. I usually write them to pay state fees or bills of some sort. So what if he wants to write one at wal-greens until they ban writing checks deal with it.

  7. chrisgoh says:

    Dude – You are not entitled to pay in any form you wish. If Walgreens policy is that they only accept checks that pass Citgergy, then that is their policy. If you don’t like it pay cash. Your story is akin to paying with a credit card which gets erroneously rejected by your credit card company. It is not the stores fault. Frankly I’m surprised business even except checks, they are much more prone to fraud and much more difficult to detect said fraud at the time of payment.

  8. grouse says:

    It’s amazing how even two big corporations can admit fault yet commenters here keep railing on the consumer.

  9. Chongo says:

    I know all walgreens look alike, but I’m pretty sure thats mine! Where is that photo from?

    As for the checks. Think about it… your 2 days away from being paid. You need groceries or things to actually get by for those two days. You don’t have exactly enough money in your account. So you play the float game and use a check. It makes perfect sense. The company dosn’t want to lose a sale so they take your checks.

  10. nickripley says:

    About three or four years ago, I worked for Certegy, a division of EquiFax (at least at the time.)

    I worked in customer service for the credit card area, but I was friend with several of the people who worked in check services. I would often take cigarette breaks with these guys, and they talked a lot about how much of their job was randomly turning down people’s checks!

    They all said they didn’t generaly have access to WHY people’s checks were declined, but they said more often than not, it was due to them having another “unsettled” check or payment in the Certegy system.

    Certegy also had the worst security and screening that I know of! You would not believe how vulnerable customer information is… thankfully, the Certegy office I worked at is now closed.

  11. DudeAsInCool says:

    chrisgoh: In this case, both Walgreens and Citergy acknowledged that there would not have been an error if they had looked at my check writing history to Walgreens. Neither did–and both companies were suprised for the ‘reason’ printed on the rejection. They each acknowledged fault. Are checks really more susceptible to fraud than credit or bank cards? We live in an age where bank account and credit numbers are stolen digitally. I’ve had to change my banking accounts because of this and I know others that have, too.

  12. erockO says:

    the first thing i thought about when i read this is the TSA. I know the screwed up in Denver big time, but I’d gratefully give up some privileges (flying IS not a right) to ensure that my plane ride is safe. I am sure that somewhere down the line, you signed banking forms that said third parties, like citgergy, can give you a checking rating, similar to credit scores as checks in some cases (listed above for example) are used as credit. If people continued to write bum checks, which I am sure these companies were created because I don’t remember then 10-15 years ago., then the amount the bounced check was written for would be passed on to the consumer. Companies like citergy verify and approve people so this doesn’t happen, saving consumers the cost of bounced checks. In addition to this, if my checks were stolen and an ID was made with my name, I would be thanking my lucky stars citergy, or whoever, existed to ensure checks would not be approved in places like walgreens. *Consumer protection

  13. LAGirl says:

    Walgreens SUCKS. i used to go to their pharmacy, but no more. their pharmacy staff are incredibly rude. they make stupid mistakes. when you call them on the mistakes, they could care less.

    i’d signed up for their ‘Quick Pay’ system, which keeps your credit card on file to speed up your checkout. seemed fine, until one time i reviewed my receipt and realized that they’d overcharged me. when i called about it, i found out that they’d charged someone else’s prescription to my card. this was the last straw.

    i got the name + number for the district manager. called her, explained all the problems i’d had (too many to get into here). she was very apologetic, promised to talk to the staff, etc. she even offered to send me a Walgreen’s gift card for $25 for my troubles. thought that was very generous. gave her all my info and she said she’d send it right out.

    of course, never got it. happened to come across her number about a month later. i left her a voice mail to let her know i didn’t get it. never heard from her. never received a gift card. haven’t been back to Walgreen’s.

  14. asherchang says:

    checks are huge hassles for stores tho…

  15. quagmire0 says:

    A check? I hope he’s an 80 year old woman… :P

  16. DudeAsInCool says:

    Hey, anti-check people – do you all work for the RIAA or something?

  17. Keter says:

    I had a problem last year with Certegy when I tried to use my DEBIT CARD — which won’t go through if funds aren’t available — at Office Depot, a place I shop often, buying an average of $50-60 at a time, but this time I was buying a laptop that was on super-duper sale. The laptop was not even a tenth of the amount I had in the account at the time.

    I ended up having to have a friend of mine use his credit card (which was over the limit and his payment was late, but went through anyway – go figure) since I don’t carry mine and this was literally the only laptop of its kind left in the city at that price.

    Certegy would not clear my debit card, saying it was outside my profiled spending pattern. Duh, nobody routinely buys a laptop!!! Then they ominously told me that if I wanted to ensure that I didn’t have any more problems with them accepting my card, I had to fill out forms to “register” with them. I told them to send the forms, but on receipt realized that the information they asked for was an absolute guarantee of identity theft so I didn’t return them. They already know too much about me!

    Office Depot has almost completely lost my business at this point because of Certegy, and if Walgreens is using them, too, I believe it is only a matter of time before someone DIES because their perfectly good payment is refused for medicine they need to stay alive. I’d love to sit on the jury for that damage award.

    Notice to retailers: if your “security” firm refuses my payments based on profiling, you WILL lose my business. The only thing you or anyone else should care about is whether I have proper ID and money in the account. The rest is none of your business, and if you make it so, you will lose MY business.

  18. fishmasta says:

    Seriously, what’s with all the anti-check comments? I usually only use them when I pay bills, but that’s just so I don’t have to lug around a checkbook. They certainly have their uses though.

  19. r81984 says:

    Another inaccurate title for consumerist

    You guys accidently put Walgreens name where Citgergy should go.

    Walgreens is a customer for Citergy and was trusting they were getting what they paid for. If their check security says its fraud, then WTF is walgreens supposed to do?

    All Walgreens can do is let you use their phone to try and resolve the issue. They cannot call Citergy on your behalf as Citergy can only talk about the check writer to the check writer.

    Also how many times does this happen? Where I work it has never happened once with a check so I doubt this issue is even worth wasting time and money on fixing. If it works correctly 99.9999999% of the time, of course accidents will still happen. They are just highly unlikely.

    This is just one of those trade offs we have to concede to increase our security and real check fraud.

  20. MarkMadsen'sDanceInstructor says:

    Count me in as one of those anti-check people. Can you imagine waiting in line if everyone started writing checks in retail stores? Its bad enough already, people should just stick to credit/debit cards and cash.

  21. DudeAsInCool says:

    @r81984: “If their check security says its fraud, then WTF is walgreens supposed to do?”

    How about checking their own records of the customer rather than relying on a third party that doesn’t have the records.

  22. homerjay says:

    Don’t get me wrong, you’re certainly allowed to write a check in a retail store if they accept them but I’l also allowed to stand behind you pissing and moaning about how long it takes for people to write checks when they could just as easily be using a debit card.

  23. jart says:

    Haha, I’m glad someone got something.

    The last time I payed with a check at Walmart, I was 18 and purchased a carton of cigarettes with a starter check at the Stratford, CT Walmart at the corner of Broadbridge and Barnum Ave in early 2003. (For the record, I certainly don’t smoke anymore) The cashier was willing to accept the check; all she needed was the address from my drivers license which I was happy to give her. After purchasing the cigarettes I started walking to school.

    About halfway to school, I turned around to see a 300 pound black man ten feet away running straight at me and experienced one of those “deer in headlights” moments. He grabbed me by my book bag, unzipped it, started rummaging through and took out the cigarettes. He said, “something ain’t right” and dragged me all the way back to Walgreens by the hoop of my bookbag all the way back to the store.

    When we got to the store, the store manager told me that they don’t accept starters checks and gave it back to me and kept the cigarettes.

    In retrospect, I wish I had done something like called the police or put up a fight, but I was simply to scared and just wanted the experience to be over with. Oh well, at least I got to school on time.

    - Justin Tunney

  24. hoot550 says:

    It wasn’t that long ago that a lot of people paid with checks for everything. I wonder how much longer it takes to write a check than wait to slide your card, then wait for approval, then enter a pin or sign a slip? A few seconds maybe? This, of course, excludes some older folks who take a long time to write out a check. Then again, they sometimes take forever to pay with any method, so they’re not a good comparison. One day we’re all going to be old and slow, so give them a break. :-)

    It’s like when you’re driving and some person is weaving in and out of traffic, driving like a maniac, just so they can be one or two cars ahead of you at the red light. Everyone is in such a hurry for everything.

    I’m not a check writer, but we are still free to pay with checks at businesses that accept them. Maybe I’m the minority, but I’m just not so busy that an extra minute or two is the end of the world. Just relax a little.

  25. CaptainRoin says:

    2 questions:
    1) are checks any less safe than debit cards? i didnt think you had the same protections on debit cards as you do on credit cards, so what’s the difference between a debit card and a check?
    2) if people filled out checks before they got to the point where they tell you the total it would go a little faster. and i think i could write a check in the amount of time it takes them to check my ID every time I buy something with my CC (I don’t say anything about not having to show ID anymore unless I’m in a bad mood, they just complain)

    I call it a draw.

  26. Youthier says:

    Didn’t we already do this in the original thread for this story? Yes, this gentleman is the definition of evil for writing a check.

    On the other hand, I agree that Walgreens really wasn’t at fault on this one but it’s nice to see that some companies still understand that $20 is worth a little good press.

  27. razz4901 says:

    Businesses still have a right to verify a check. If you owned a business would you allow a customer to walk out of your business with $1000′s in merchandise in exchange for an unverified check which might actually be a useless piece of paper. I know its a pain in the neck but I can see both sides of this issue.

  28. “We should be able to use whatever form of payment we want to, when we want to and however we want to.”

    Would that include a check that someone else endorsed over to you? How about a bag of pennies? Foreign currency? Maybe six chickens and some beads?

    It’s a voluntary transaction. They can decide that they only want to exchange their goods for blue diamonds, if they choose.

  29. enm4r says:

    @Chongo:

    Well I hope you don’t plan to float payments anymore…last month consumer laws changed that took the point of sale rights away from you and now allow companies to convert checks to ACH debits without your approval. This takes remote deposit/Check 21 to a new level.

    If the last couple years didn’t convince people the days of floating checks were over, then the next few certainly will when funds are being withdraw the same/next day and don’t have to wait for the same clearance proceedures.

  30. kerry says:

    @homerjay: Not everybody gets a debit card with their checking account. As far as I can tell, the credit union that serves my community doesn’t offer them. A friend of mine with a different credit union didn’t get one, either.
    Not everybody gets (or wants) a debit card. Quit whining that you can’t buy your beer as fast as you’d like and just let people live their lives. Damn.

  31. ratmonkey says:

    I had a roommate once that had a similar experience with Sam’s Club. His direct deposit was going in that night to cover his account, but he had made three trips to Sam’s Club in one day. He was funding a massive camping trip. Anyways, by the third visit Sam’s Club got suspicious, called his bank and then called the police. He wound up going from city jail to the county jail. The judge dismissed the charges 3 days later, but at that point he missed the camping trip and was just glad to be home. He never did anything about and just accepted it as a misunderstanding. He’s alot cooler about it than I would have been.

  32. ratmonkey –

    If your roommate was writing checks without enough money in the bank, he was committing a crime. “It’s going to be there tonight” is not an excuse.

    He’s lucky they dismissed the charges. Checks are not a short-term cash advance, you need the money in the bank when you write the check.

    See, that’s why stores don’t like checks anymore.

  33. DudeAsInCool says:

    @grouse: It’s amazing how even two big corporations can admit fault yet commenters here keep railing on the consumer.

    Thanks for that – amen.

  34. Buran says:

    @jart: You should have jerked away from him and called the police for kidnapping, assault and theft. He touched you without consent, took you somewhere without consent, and stole something from you — twice (your bookbag and an item inside it).

    As soon as you pay for something, the store accepts payment, and you leave, it is yours. An attempt to take it back from you after the item is yours is stealing.

    If nothing else, Walgreens should have been stuck with a big fat LAWSUIT. I’m not suehappy but I would have been calling a lawyer right after the police dragged that guy away in handcuffs.

  35. Joyrock says:

    The same event happened to me at a GameStop, where I had paid with checks on previous occasions.

    After they (embarrassingly) rejected my check by phone, and handed me a pamphlet that read like “So your check has been rejected…”, I instead retrieved my debit card. It is the same checking account but it worked right away.

    Perhaps they were making an example of me. “This is what happens to people who use checks!”

  36. TampaShooters says:

    DudeAsInCool,

    You are a retard. You are all over this board trying to defend yourself, and then make fun or harass everyone who has an opposing view. Well, here is my view. Like it or not, Who cares! Everyone did their jobs, and you didn’t like it, boo hoo. Checks are just as susceptible to fraud as Bank cards are nowadays theifs are re-creating checks easier than cards. As one posted put it, you probably are broke and are floating, that is why you are using checks still. get with the times, get a bank card, GET OUT OF MY LINE, I have cash and am ready to use it. End of story, move on

  37. Mary says:

    I work in a retail store, and I have to say that as long as the customer takes the time to start writing while I’m ringing up their purchase, only adding the total when they’re done, it literally doesn’t take any more time than anybody else.

    The check approval? Also doesn’t take any more time than anything else. Sometimes it doesn’t go through at first and I have to type the numbers. Since I used to do data entry, again, it doesn’t take that much time.

    People have given checks a bad wrap, because some people are slow with it. Trust me, if those same people had bank cards (which, btw-quite a few banks still do not offer free debit card services, so it’s not as easy as just grabbing one out of a cereal box…) then they would STILL take forever because of something else.

    The people who take forever to write a check have to dig through their purse, count out exact change, rifle through things, try to decide what they want and if they’re going to get x or z and pick out coupons…they’re just slow in general.

    Most check writers aren’t like that. I spend 40 hours a week dealing with people in register lines, checks are absolutly not the problem.

  38. Jcole says:

    I was just rejected by Certegy this morning – to all you check naysayers – Is your life really that busy that you can’t wait for someone to write a check, why do you care how I handle my finances, and why is the only comment you have tied to your obvious disdain for check writers? Have you NOTHING constructive to say? OR does it make you feel better to criticise? I feel sorry for you, get back to work, retirement or whatever is giving you free time to comment.

    I wrote a check because:
    a) my debit card was stolen and I’m still waiting on a new one.
    b) it is my right to do so.

    Did certegy decline me because their were insufficient funds? No. Have I EVER written a bad check? No.

    Did the clerk, who has no idea whatsoever who cetergy is and why they would decline a check, inform me in front of other people that it was because my account had insuffienct funds? YES. Did this poorly informed clerk have any right to comment on what she felt was the issue? No. If Walgreens is going to use a service such as Certegy they need to train their clerks to answer the consumers questions without adding their own personal and uninformed assessment of the problem. And if Walgreens is going to use a service such as Certegy, it should be their responsiblity to recruit a company with a proven process. (By proven I mean something more than random or a so-called computer-generated model.)

  39. Jcole says:

    Just got off the phone with Walgreens corporate. The customer relations department has no information on Cetergy or its practices. Seems to me that they should since it is a customer relations issue.