“The best advice I can offer to those who wish to commit check fraud against Wachovia Bank,” writes Jim, “is to purchase a typewriter.” Although he’s been a customer of the bank for years and had a hefty balance that more than covered the deposit amount of his handwritten check, because the dollar amount was in black ink and the signature was in blue ink the teller said it might be fraudulent and refused to take it.
“But you accepted the other 3 much larger checks that were typed in black, and signed with blue ink…”, I offer helpfully.
“But I can’t accept this handwritten check”, she answers “because of the two different ink colors”.
“So, no one can write me a blank check?” I ask. “Or if they do, I have to find a typewriter to fill in the amount?”
“We need to prevent fraud.” she explains.
“Are you implying that I might attempt fraud?” I ask after picking my jaw up off the floor. “Look at the account balance” I instruct. “It is several thousand times the amount of the check I am depositing. This is nonsense – let’s get your manager over here.”
The branch manager slides up trailing the unctuous slime of someone who will grovel to placate, but never look one in the eye and directly address a concrete issue. The conversation ambles around for a bit, without any progress toward connecting a small messy check with the reality of a customer with significant deposits and a long track record. Apparently, my “admitting” that the check was signed by our treasurer, and the amount filled in by me makes matters somehow “worse”. I guess I might have lied and claimed that his pen ran out of ink, but I am not a skilled liar.
Let’s see, if the check turned out to be fraudulent, Jim would have legally been responsible for it, and the bank could have repaid itself out of his account balance. If he attempted to withdraw his entire balance—which Jim says was “several thousand times over the amount of the check”—the bank could have sounded an internal alert and postponed the withdrawal until a supervisor could sign off on it. But somehow it made more sense to offend a long-term customer by inconveniencing him and implying that he was a criminal.
Jim figured out a simple workaround:
“Never mind”, I say after getting nowhere fast for about 2 minutes. “Your bank WILL accept this check, and thank me for my deposit, too. Just watch.”
I then deposited my check with no problem at all – steps away over at the ATM, which I had noticed being serviced by an armored truck on prior visits.
The machine thanked me nicely in its usual pre-programmed way. I waved to the branch manager, and cheerily suggested that he “have a nice day”.
The best advice I can offer to those who wish to commit check fraud against Wachovia Bank is to purchase a typewriter. The best advice I can offer to honest customers of banks staffed by unthinking automatons who refuse to allow reason to even color their blind obedience to the latest customer dissatisfaction initiative is even simpler. Deposit such checks via the ATM machine located only steps away from the uncooperative employees. The check was credited to my account the same day, and the ATM did not insult me with any implied accusations.