Chase Cannot Find A Human Being To Read A Check

Chase has these fancy new ATMs that take checks without envelopes. It scans the check and blah, blah, robots, science, a better tomorrow. The interesting thing about them is that reader Angela says that when the ATM makes an error, Chase mails the check back to you so that you, the customer, can take it to a branch bank and show it to a human being. Apparently, even though Chase already has the check in its possession — it cannot find a human being to read a check.

I used to be a WaMu checking account customer. As you know, WaMu was bought out by Chase. I just had my first experience with the Chase “no envelope” ATMs that are all over their commercials, an experience that has so far cost me $60.00, and will be costing me a trip to a Chase branch in the future.

My roommate writes me a check every month for her half of the utilities. We’ve been roommates for over three years, this was never a problem when I was depositing them at WaMu ATMs in my WaMu checking account. Her November 2009 check was for $96.42, which I deposited at a Chase “no envelope” ATM in my now Chase account on 12/10.

Today (12/14) I was checking my Chase account online and noticed a $60.00 withdrawal, listed under “dr due to ATM/DEP error.”

I called Chase to see what this wdl was for, and learned: – the ATM read the check that I deposited as being for $36.42, not $96.42 – which is why Chase took out that “extra” $60.00 from my account – but, Chase is mailing me the $96.42 check – which I should have in 7-10 days – so that I can take that check in to a Chase branch – and show it to a teller, and prove that this $96.42 check was actually for $96.42 – at which point Chase will give me my $60.00 back

I don’t think the onus should be on me to prove how much a check that Chase has (well, had) in its possession is made out for, should it? Sending it to me so that I can show it to a teller- can’t it be shown to a teller when it’s rejected at the ATM?

I know, I know, I need to close my Chase account. But in the meantime, is there a better way to protect oneself from these kind of ATM deposit errors? An actual person at Chase had to look at this check at some point in time, seeing as how it is being mailed back to me and all. I use ATMs for the very reason so that I don’t have to go to a teller during the work day; how do I stop from getting screwed over and having “extra” money taken from my account when I deposit next month’s check at one of these ATMs?

We do not know the answer to this, so we will throw it out to the Internet.

Have you solved the riddle of the envelope-free ATM?


Edit Your Comment

  1. The Federalist says:

    Or when it asks you to confirm the check amount, you hit “this is not correct” and type in the correct amount of the check.

    • Etoiles says:

      The thing is, it sounds like the ATM had the correct amount at some point or another, because otherwise Chase wouldn’t have originally had the $96 figure to deduct the $60 from. What it sounds like to me is that the bank thinks she claimed a deposit amount higher than the check actually was, and took back the difference it thought it was owed — except it wasn’t. No human looked at the check after it went through a post-deposit round of processing, and so the error exists.

      @ the OP — my mom used to work for BayBank (later BankBoston, then later FleetBoston, and now it’s Bank of America) in the back offices, specifically doing check reconciliation of the type you require. Chase probably used to have a division doing the same but axed it in the name of efficiency. The burden absolutely *shouldn’t* be on you, but apparently is anyway. In the meantime, my now-husband and I used PayPal to shuttle utility money between ourselves before we opened the joint account… I still won’t use it for eBay (in fact, I won’t use eBay anymore) but for that kind of limited transaction it’s a viable workaround.

      • The Federalist says:

        It was probably looked at by someone, but because of the bureaucracy and volume at Chase, they can’t handle something simple as correcting a check amount like in this situation.

        On that note, I worked for a smaller regional bank where a teller would open up the ATM, and manually process each check transaction which was “deposited” to the machine. So while the systems would show a pending credit to your account, the process didn’t start until the teller entered it in. Backend office would then pick up all checks for verification and ACH processing.

        Larger banks don’t deal with checks at the branch-level.

        • Night Cheese says:

          I worked at Chase a little over two years ago and ATM processing was handled the exact same way your local bank did. Maybe it’s a very large branch or they’ve changed the way they do things. Either way, this should should not happen, it’s so easy to correct.

      • samandiriel says:

        I’ve found to be heaps better than paypal, and free to boot for noncommercial use.

      • Difdi says:

        That sounds plausible to me. But if that is indeed what happened, I wonder how that sort of action meshes with check fraud laws. The check was for $96.42, the depositor entered the proper amount the check was for, the bank honored the check, then took back 2/3 of it. That sounds like some form of theft to me.

        I wonder what the criminal charge would be if a customer somehow did something similar to the bank?

  2. GearheadGeek says:

    We’re not supposed to blame the OP, I know, but I’ve been using those no-envelope ATMs for about a year now. It confirms the amount of each check, showing you an image of the front of the check and the amount it thinks it read off the check. Thus far its read has been correct when I’ve used these ATMs, but I don’t deposit a lot of handwritten checks. I also make the machine print an image of the check(s) on my receipt to partially satisfy my OCD.

    The odd thing here is the $60 withdrawal… it sounds like the ATM read the check correctly, and someone reconciling the machine’s deposits adjusted it down. The OP was initially credited $96 and a person adjusted it down to $36? Then Chase wants the OP to come into a branch and show the check to… a person? That would make it even more like a vignette from Douglas Adams’ game “Bureaucracy.”

    • thesadtomato says:

      Q. How do you play the game Bureaucracy? A. We all stand in a circle and the first person to do something loses.

  3. feckingmorons says:

    Use the night deposit with a deposit slip. Whole different set of regulations there. No possibility a person cannot see your check, in fact two tellers verify night deposits.

    • zacox says:

      That’s not entirely correct. Two tellers count the night deposit only when there’s a discrepancy.

      Pretty much everything in a bank needs two people to agree on something. When you make a deposit, your total must agree with the teller’s total. When you do a night deposit, the amount you write down must agree with the amount the teller totals. If it doesn’t, another person within the bank must count the entire deposit and only when her total matches the initial teller’s total is it then deposited with the correct amount.

      It’s off subject, but two employees are generally needed to access the vault, two people (teller or manager plus customer) are needed to open a safety deposit box, etc.

    • The Federalist says:

      We used to take night deposits from a local fast-food franchise and only one teller entered the amount in. We would sign off that the amounts matched. Actually with our agreement with the franchise, we’d accept deposits off by a few dollars or so (which happened frequently).

  4. FatLynn says:

    Whoa, is the check canceled when they send it back? Please tell me there is something stopping her from taking it somewhere else to cash.

  5. Colonel Jack O'neill says:

    That’s one reason I would never use an ATM to deposit a check, I’d rather go to a teller.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      Not to mention-if you go to a teller the amount is in your account IMEMDIATELY…
      of course, unless they put a hold on your check…


      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        Only if it is a check drawn on the same bank – non-local checks would still have to clear regardless of how deposited.

        • dantsea says:

          Oh, with Chase, that’s a big IF ONLY.

          Chase Bank really doesn’t trust its customers.

          When I first heard about their check cashing policies, I thought it was someone getting bad information third hand, or someone at a local bank making an “administrative decision.” Now that I’ve heard from more than one person, I have to report that Chase Bank is home of one of the most irrational check cashing policies in banking.

          If you are a Chase customer, and wish to cash — not deposit, just cash — a check from a fellow Chase account holder, the bank will refuse to pay out in cash unless you have funds in your account equivalent to the amount of the check you wish to cash, and will in fact hold the check for the legally permissible amount of time. Remember, this is a Chase customer cashing a check from another Chase customer.

          If you are not a Chase customer, simply present your identification at the counter and waltz out with your money in hand, five minutes later.

          The person that Chase has an established relationship with is considered more of a risk than a non-account holder walking in off the street? This is insane. Several of the people who confirmed this policy said that they’ve taken to visiting distant branches where they’re not known as customers simply so they could cash these checks.

          This policy is absurd, it’s a great inconvenience to its new customers from WaMu (not to mention its existing customers), and it’s ineffective once people figure out how to work around it. I can only wonder what other genius policies these idiots have dreamed up. I think I’ll pass on opening an account with them.

          • albertross says:

            It’s Chase’s right to hold a check for the legally allowable time period.

            Fortunately, the period for which Chase can legally hold a Chase Bank check written from a Chase Bank customer to a Chase Bank customer is approximately 0 days, so it’s not much of an inconvenience.

            (Well, strictly speaking, they don’t have to make it available until the start of the next business day, but that is literally the absolute longest that they can legally hold an on-them check. The relevant law is called Regulation CC:

            Refusing to pay an on-them check in cash until the next business day is not illegal, but it is an *excellent* way to drive away customers. And once the funds are in your account, there’s nothing they can do to stop you.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        Actually, I’m a WaMu turned Chase customer as well and the only way to get any money availible right away is to either have a check drawn on chase/WaMu or to use the envelopeless ATM. The full amount isn’t availible right away but it seems like you get about 50% availible when you put it into the ATM, then the rest of it is availible first thing in the morning.

        If you go to a teller they hold the whole amount until the next morning. This has been the hardest thing about the switch to get used to for me, because I used to be able to hand a check to a teller at WaMu and have the full amount credited right away. It’s not the case anymore.

      • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

        Any bank that I’ve had the pleasure of having an account with never allowed the funds from the check deposited to be available the same day. There has always been a “wait to clear” policy. It usually ranges around 5 business days.

        Although, my alcoholic father did teach me a good way around this as it’s genius in its simplicity. To avoid the have to wait to clear deal on checks (tellers hate this); I go to my bank teller cash the check (as long as I have more than what the check amount is in my account) and then deposit the cash. Cash deposited is always available for immediate withdraw from your account.

    • jesusofcool says:

      …and you help hardworking Americans keep their jobs! Yay tellers!

  6. Tim says:

    Apart from whether or not it’s the OP’s fault for not confirming it on the ATM or whatever, this is ridiculous.

    Chases’s automated system rejects the check and mails it back to the customer. The customer takes it back to a Chase branch and show it to the teller, who deposits it.

    There’s absolutely no reason Chase can’t just collect the unreadable checks and have someone go through them every day to see if they’re readable. Hell, someone from Chase is going to do it anyway once the customer brings it in. Save some postage?

    The Postal Service does something like this. Its machines read the addresses on every envelope. If it can’t read an address, it takes a photo of the envelope. At a central location, people sit around all day looking at these images. They enter what it says into the system (if it’s readable by a human) and the machine puts an ultraviolet bar code on the mail piece that has the real address on it.

    The alternative for the USPS would be to have the machines return every piece of unreadable mail to the sender. I think their current system works fine.

    • katstermonster says:

      I would guess that it already collects the unreadable checks to be mailed out. They could have a machine that stuffs all the envelopes, but I’m sure a human interacts with said unreadable checks at some point. You’re right…they could have a human read them, and I think they absolutely SHOULD.

    • ecwis says:

      ultraviolet? I thought they used the regular visible barcodes. They’re usually on the bottom right-side of the envelope.

  7. Murph1908 says:

    My BOA has these check readers for deposit. One day, I made an error when punching in the amount. I saw my mistake on my receipt, and called the bank. They said the discrepancy would be seen and adjusted.

    Don’t know why Chase has to add the additional customer-annoying step.

  8. milty456 says:

    My wife tried to deposit 11 checks a few weeks ago. She got a 66 percent pass rate…basically it didn’t like some of the checks and didn’t let her enter any amounts. So she had to see a teller.
    I see this as creating more work for the consumer…before we didn’t have to see a teller…now its a gamble…I don’t like these new ATMs…I’m glad I left Wamu for Suntrust

  9. JohnDeere says:

    i think vendors own atms and banks just rent them. i had one of those eat a check once. and that was the info i got from boa. it was a small check and they just gave me the money, but when the credit union finally called and said the check never was cashed they wound up saying that to balance their books they would have to give me another check. it was pretty cool.

    • wcnghj says:

      Did you use your banks ATM, or a 3rd party ATM?

      • JohnDeere says:

        it was an atm inside my bank. they said they had no control over it. that it was cleaned out daily by a vendor and if they found they check they would mail it to me. they never mailed it to me.

        • dantsea says:

          Deposit-accepting ATMs are under federal regulation, and while there’s a possibility there might have been some sort of interbank operation taking care of the machines, that did not change your financial institution’s responsibilities to you, the least of which involved giving you the contact information for that third party vendor. More than likely the machine was serviced by a separate division within the bank. That teller has hopefully been enclued since your encounter.

  10. solareclipse2 says:

    The Chase branch across from my office has one of these ATMs. I thought it was the weirdest thing but I used it because the check needed to go into the account that day. It asked me to confirm my deposit amount and it printed a check image on a receipt with my balance available. Sounds like someone at Chase behind the scenes screwed this up after the ATM because of the 60 dollar withdrawal after the fact.

  11. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    Maybe the roommate can pay you in cash, until you find another bank to deal with? You could just write her out a receipt itemizing everything she is paying for.

    I would definitely jump on the ball and open an account with another bank- USAA opened up their banking to everyone I heard. You could scan your roommates check in, send it in to USAA and shazam! Credit applied. USAA would be a great one for someone who has little time during the day to do their banking, 24/7 at home, from your computer as long as you have a scanner.

    Good luck, OP with Chase. Give’em hell when you see them.

  12. photojennifer says:

    I’ve tried forever to get the new Bank of America ATMS to read our checks (we’re a charitable organization). It shows the image on the screen and says the right check amounts, but then spits out all the checks and says it cannot complete the deposit.

    When I asked the banker inside the branch, their answer was “It should work.”

    Hence, I always go into a branch to make a deposit. And always will.

  13. knackeredmom says:

    Seems like another way to collect overdraft fees by delaying deposits.

  14. Joe S Chmo says:

    I would put my money on this being human error after all. As in the person in operations who pulled this check meant to pull another check that was processed around the O.P.’s deposited check.

    My credit union uses these types of ATMs and I have had no problem when depositing my infrequent checks but I do keep my receipt until it fades, just in case. Stuff happens.

  15. chocolate1234 says:

    The OP definitely needs to find a new bank! My credit union has those ATM’s, and I’ve never had a problem, but even if I did, it’s a small enough company that I’d have no problems getting it fixed. She shouldn’t have to deal with all this extra hassle because someone behind the scenes (most likely) messed up.

  16. mandy_Reeves says:

    PNC has had this technology for a few years now. You always get to view it on the screen before you ok the deposit. I love it, to tell you the truth.

  17. TailsToo says:

    Workerbot #79273 sees nothing wrong with this system.

  18. Lukecadet says:

    When I have used them it asks you to verify the check amount. It also will show you a picture of the check. Finally you can have it print a image of the check on your receipt. So did you not verify the check amount before approving the deposit? Or did it somehow change this afterwards.

  19. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Question: Will companies not take two separate checks to pay a bill?

    • oloranya says:

      That was my thought. I shared my previous apartment with three other people and all of our utilities + the apartment people got four checks each month, one from each of us for our share.

      It may be they have a setup sort of like I have now, though. There’s three of us and we all pay a set amount in “rent” each month that goes into an account for the utilities, and my boyfriend pays all the utility bills out of that account. That way only one person is managing the incoming bills, and you’re not sitting down every month figuring who owe’s how much for what.

  20. Tiandli says:

    Chase (and their ATM) was in error and should have simply corrected the problem internally.

    Maybe Chase is hoping to make some money from fees by incorrectly crediting accounts and hoping the customer accidentally “overdraws”? Banks have done worse trying to pad their profits.

  21. greggen says:

    I wonder if the roommates bank paid out the full amount of the check that BOA cashed. If so, I would file fraud charges against BOA.

  22. Ubik2501 says:

    I had a different problem with one of these not too long ago. I deposited a paycheck into the no-envelope ATM, typed in the amount on the check (as it couldn’t properly read it the first time), and went on my merry way. Two weeks later, the amount for the check was withdrawn from my account again and a copy of the check sent back to me, denied for the notice that “it was cashed twice.” My company confirmed with Chase that this was not the case, and the Chase representative said that it must have been because the check was scanned twice – once at the ATM, and once at the bank when it went through processing – and the issuing bank took issue with that. The Chase rep said that they’ve started having problems with this and that they’d take it up with the issuing bank. It’s a few weeks later and I haven’t heard yet whether it’s been totally resolved, but Chase at least compensated me for the money that I’m supposed to have.

    Still, it’s annoying as hell when your money spontaneously disappears and a check gets returned to you, without Chase or anybody else being able to tell you a damn thing until you jump through sixteen hoops to get the various parties to hash it out with each other.

  23. NYGuy1976 says:

    It is very possible that whatever bank that check is drawn on, they are causing the issue.

  24. Ilovegnomes says:

    Years ago I learned my lesson about checks and ATMs. I deposited a check from a scholarship that I won, that I was going to use to purchase books for that semester. They “lost” the $500 check. It took months to resolve. I ended up having to essentially pay more for books because I had to use a credit card and pay off the amount in the mean time (I paid for my own education with minimum wage jobs). From that day forward, I always waited until the bank was open so I could hand my check to a teller and get a receipt so that I could avoid that kind of hassle.

  25. M3wThr33 says:

    Wow. That sounds like how they want me to handle one of my errors.
    Yeah, I’m closing mine, too.

  26. phate says:

    ATMs are great for checking balances and pulling cash, but when it comes to me putting money in the bank, there sure as heck better be human putting in amount right in front of me.

  27. CorinneL says:

    Another former WaMu customer here who is also disgruntled with Chase’s tactics. After having had Chase screw up two different transactions – one was when they cleared a check for $70 more than what I’d written it for, the other was when they shortchanged a deposit done through the teller by $300 (and in my haste I didn’t realize it until after I’d left the bank) – I am breaking up with them. Their new policy of a 24-hour hold on check deposits is also a nightmare if you’re trying to get your EDD [CA unemployment] check deposited in order to pay your rent on time. If you deposit those checks on a Saturday, the funds aren’t available until Tuesday. In addition the Chase ATMs in my area are ridiculously slow and have a tendency to not work, so there is no way I would use them to deposit a check without an envelope. I’ve learned my lesson.

    Having said all that, I’ve had very good experiences with Chase customer service, and have gotten my issues fixed very quickly and easily. But at the end of the day Chase is not WaMu and will never be WaMu, which IMO had more of a small-town bank approach to a lot of things. Sadly that is probably part of the reason why they failed.

    • Squot says:

      That’s actually why I left USBank. They don’t hold checks for 24 hours, they hold them for anywhere between 3-5 business days (occasionally more, at seemingly the teller’s discretion.)

  28. Squot says:

    On the ATM side of Chase (This, exactly), I actually love it. I can go to the ATM whenever I need too, and so long as I deposit by 11:00pm, the deposit is for that business day. Checks and all. They process deposits first, and corporate has been nothing but nice and listens to me when I call with questions or the very occasional problem.

    If the choice is between that, and trying to deposit something without a deposit slip (with my ID) with the teller at the branch closest to me – the one who refused to look up my account with my ID and debit card, even though I had both, and demanded I tell her my social security number in a busy bank packed with people, or to write it down on things scanned into her system – and when I said no, and to please look it up off my name / debit card / license number – she proceeds to mouth off and tell me ‘she has it (my SSN) anyway’ and writes it in big numbers on the back of my deposit slip and HOLDS IT UP so that I can ‘see’…

    I would rather have the ATM, anyday.

    • ecwis says:

      I agree. I use Chase basically just for their ATMs. You can deposit large amounts of cash and checks at any time of the day. I always hated having to go to the bank before 5. I like going when it’s convenient for me.

    • albertross says:


      Wells Fargo no longer gives tellers the ability to use your Social Security number. As in, even if you walk in and yell it at the teller, demanding they look you up by it because they’ve always done it for you, they can’t. The system no longer has a field for it. (There is an arcane way of looking up customers by SSN, but it involves using systems that tellers aren’t trained on anymore and thus doesn’t exist as far as they’re concerned.)

      …Doesn’t stop people from yelling about it, though.

  29. vastrightwing says:

    New business model. Not only fees, but now they lower your deposit amount automatically and force you to come in and correct it. If only 50% of the people do this.. profit! There is no end to the trick banks will find for you. Unbelieveable!

  30. larkknot says:

    Bank of America also uses these no-envelope ATMs, but I have not had a problem with depositing handwritten checks into them.

  31. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Because of ATM problems like this, I only use them to withdraw. Once, I deposited a $50 bill in the deposit envelope into a BOA ATM and they only put it on as $30. It was my word against theirs. The bad thing is that BOA pushes ATM’s. They have few locations near me with drive through tellers anymore.

  32. Huntercombe says:

    Chase sucks, yet no one can leave because the bank owns everything else that isn’t going out of business. Sort of like the Hotel California for money.

  33. Anakela says:

    OP here- just registered in order to answer some of the questions raised. Yes, when I submitted the check in the ATM it registered for the correct $96.42 amount. Then the next day (12/11) there was the -$60 wdl charge that posted on my account. It looked like this:

    I only login every few days, so I did not catch this until today (12/14). Then when I called today that’s when I was told that the $96.42 check was “only” for $36.42, and so that is why Chase took that “extra” $60.00 back.

    My roommate’s checking account, by the way? Also Chase bank. The check cleared her account for only $36.42, yet there’s the online copy that you can clearly see/read that shows that the check was made out for $96.42.

  34. snobum says:

    I’ve only used the bank of america ones. When you deposit a check it attempts to read the amount. There is always an option to change the amount if it’s wrong (and yes it displays it on the screen so you can see it). The only problem I’ve had was with cash. It says you can insert something like 50 bills at a time. Having some common sense, I didn’t do it. I did 10 and it spit them all back out, each one folded about 3/4 of the way down the bill individually. I did get it to work eventually.

  35. Ronin Democrat says:

    budget the time to go into a branch and make a deposit.
    carry your own envelopes and use them for deposits.
    make her give you cash.

  36. DRFS Rich says:

    The first time I used one of these it took both of my checks, totalling a not-unsubstantial sum, “processed” them, then kicked out an error message — And didn’t give me the checks, or the deposit credit. It was a week and a half ordeal with Chase trying to get it corrected. I’m very underwhelmed by them so far.

  37. lifestar says:

    BOA has had these problems before too with their no-envelope system too, but they apparently worked out the kinks by adding user intervention after you submit the check. It would spit out the # it thinks it read, and ask you if it’s correct. If not, then you can manually enter the actual amount and it will get deposited. I’ve had this happen to me once and had no problems with it.

    Unfortunately, I think this is the way more banks and even credit unions are going. It’s a way to reduce cost for supplies and personnel.

  38. No Moleste says:

    Chase is terrible! I recently switched to a local credit union and I couldn’t be happier. They don’t have policies that try to maximize overdrafts and on the occasional instances I do overdraft, it is only $5 if the charge is less than $25 and $10 if less than $100. Another cool thing with the credit union is you can deposit checks online by scanning them and uploading a pdf or jpg to the CU’s website.

  39. No Moleste says:

    Chase is terrible! I recently switched to a local credit union and I couldn’t be happier. They don’t have policies that try to maximize overdrafts and on the occasional instances I do overdraft, it is only $5 if the charge is less than $25 and $10 if less than $100. Another cool thing with the credit union is you can deposit checks online by scanning them and uploading a pdf or jpg to the CU’s website.

  40. BjornOlafson says:

    Whoa. How could CHASE overlook such a simple solution? To save the postage on sending the check back out, and infuriating it’s customer base, couldn’t they have come up with the old ‘enter in the amount of the check’ stage, in case of error? I could see if they thought it took away from the fancy ‘ATM reads the check’ gimmick, but c’mon, man!

    I remember having to manually input the amount of the check every single time, and I never once thought to myself, man, this is 1.7 seconds I’ll never get back…

  41. cmartin says:

    I work for a guard company that protects the techs who service atms when they malfunction and i know first hand how horrible these machines are regarding the parts that take check deposits and cash deposits (especially cash deposits).

    The hardware is so sensitive an so picky that its actually pretty easy to cause a malfunction, for example: unnecessary writing on the money or checks, the slightest creases or folds. Even the atm techs (who work for the companies that design and build atms) admit that these two parts of the atm are bad and are in need of major improvement.

    It amuses/frustrates me how people have become so dependent on the atm that they completely forget about the teller lanes. My only advise: support your local bank tellers. Atm depositing is more trouble than its worth.