Statistically Speaking, His Check Was Fraudulent

Checking systems’ vagaries make them susceptible to scams, so we can understand why Walgreens might want to protect themselves against our reader by denying his drug purchase.

Certegry, their check verification service, said that “statistically speaking,” his purchase price, the store location, and the time of purchase meant the check might be fake. This flummoxed reader DudeAsInCool. His description of the ensuing events, and how Certegy eventually cleared him, might make you chortle.

We’re not sure why he’s using a check in the first place though. Why not just use a debit card?

What’s your opinion on people writing checks in the store?


DudeAsInCool writes:

Hi

Here’s an interesting company and a pretty sordid business practice against consumers for you guys to devour:

Today I went to Walgreens Drug Store in Los Angeles to pick up a few items. The friendly staff did not have the product I wanted, but the Manager called another store in the area who did, and I made arrangements to drop by the other location for the purchase. So far, so good.

I arrived at the other store a couple hours later, picked up a few items in addition to the one they had set aside for me, and wrote a check for them for under $50. This is where the fun begins….

The cashier tried to run the check through several times and had to call the manager over as the damn thing wouldn’t process. Then suddenly, light radiated from the heavens, and out spun the following Orwellian non-committal rejection note:

“The agency listed did not make the decision to decline your check and is unable to provide you with the specific reasons for our decision.” Huh?!!!! WTF?

I never had a problem writing checks at Walgreen’s before, so I asked the manager what was going on. She said I would have to call the company at the bottom of the non-receipt – Certegy Check Cashing Services – because there was nothing she could do about it.

I asked if I could use the store’s phone, and the manager politely provided one for me. I dialed. A voice male robot at Certegy’s kingdom politely answered: “You will need your 1) Driver’s license and 2) store receipt and 3) phone number to continue…blah blah blah… and then proceeded to ask me a litany of questions: “1) What was the check number? 2) How much was the check for? blah blah blah.. Can we have your first born? Etc. After I supply the information, I get the exact same Orwellian message from a second robot, in this case a shebot – as I did from the cashier print out . “We are sorry for the inconvenience, but we are unable to provide any reasons as to why your check was declined…” Ms. Robot then droned on about how Certegy works hand-hand with merchants and handles up to a million checks every day… in order to stop potential fraud. Huh? Now they are accusing me of potential fraud? WTF?? After waiting another 20 minutes or so under Walgreen’s irritating florescent prison lights, I gave up and went home.

About an hour later, I got a real person from Certegy on the phone. She was friendly, sympathetic to my position, and did her best to remedy the situation. She explained statistically that 1) the attempted purchase price, 2) the store I bought it from, and 3) the time I bought it, triggered the system that fraud MIGHT occur!!!! Was it the pin stripe shirt I was wearing? WTF?

She then begin researching for my consumer check writing history. At first, she said Certergy didn’t appear to have any information on me, to which I said, “Then why was my check not accepted?” No answer, but then lo and behold, she did a little research, the heavens parted once again, and like Mose’s 10 Commandments, my personal consumer history appeared, and the corporate Gods said this was good. She then began to read off a series of checks I had written at Walgreens and other stores (Certegy has other personal information on me!!!) She quickly determined I wasn’t the problem as all my checks had cleared – it was just my luck that my purchase fell in to the wrong statistical pattern. (Luck????!!) Corporate Twilight Zone would be more like it.

She said she would up my rating immediately (They had a rating on me!!!) so I wouldn’t have a problem again, and she did so on the spot. She concluded that she hoped I would be more understanding about the plight that these huge profitable corporate monopolies and their zillionaire CEOs have to face in their daily battle against consumer fraud…or at least it was something to that effect. (I should have suggested that Citergy talk to the RIAA about consumer relations). I then asked: “Wouldn’t it make more sense for companies like Walgreens to review the check writing policies of their own customers as opposed to hedging their bets on whatever statistical studies their cash registers and Certegy dream up at the moment of attempted purchase. She said that wasn’t possible and that I didn’t understand. She’s right – I still don’t.

There was a happy ending, though. I will no longer encounter any problems with my check writing at Walgreens because I now have been certified as ‘Gold’ by Certegy; can you believe Certegy actually has a program where people pay to make sure that Certegy’s questionable business tactics against check writers aren’t used against them!!!!!! And after three trips to Walgreens in one day, I finally was able to write a check for the product I wanted. Imagine that. I even took them home and begin enjoying them. Isn’t life wonderful with Certegy Gold? And now I plan on suing the hell out of these jerks for the time lost, embarrassment, and defamation of character by statistical bullshit, etc. (just kidding)

In closing, I have attached my receipt (minus my banking information), as well as a couple links below from a few other innocent consumers who have encountered this outrageous practice:

http://www.complaints.com/march2003/complaintoftheday.march26.17.htm
http://forums.dealofday.com/showthread.php?t=176396

— BEN POPKEN