Landlord Says He Never Got My Rent, Can I Get My Money Order Back?

Marty sent his rent in by money order and the landlord says he never got it. Marty is trying to get his money from the money order back, but is finding out that it’s not the same thing as a check.

Marty writes:

Dear Consumerist,

On September 7th 2010 I made the honest mistake of paying for rent via mail with a money order I had drawn from my checking account at Bank of Albuquerque. For my entire life I was under the impression that, in addition to being easier for the recipient, money orders provided the same level of protection for a bank patron as a check. That idea held true until yesterday when I got a call from my landlord.

My landlord just informed me, after nearly 60 days have passed, that he was not in receipt of September’s rent. That’s 2 fully paid rent periods before receiving any type of communication from them.

I still have my original receipt from the money order, the money order number and confirmation from the bank that the money order was never cashed… However, the bank is now “refusing to take the risk” of voiding the money order and having it reissued to me.

What do I do?! Do I have any legal protection in this situation or is this just a very hard way to learn a lesson?

Any advice is appreciated.. Very tired of being talked to like a child and screamed at over the phone it stinks. Two counter clerks, three call center employees and The Branch Manger from hell who screamed at me for literally 10 whole minutes before I was able to get a single word in, a “sir it seems like you are in a rush is there a better time to talk to call you?” with a “NO! I JUST DONT WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOWW!!” and more screaming. I hate not being treated like a human being it sucks. I’ve never taken a ‘snippy’ tone or raised my voice to anyone throughout the whole thing it’s so hard to keep my cool when pro’s aren’t treating me professionally and it’s only going one way… I almost broke my cell phone into pieces.

That stinks. Especially because a money order is not the same as a check and you really don’t have any protections with it. In fact, a money order is more like cash. Where you may have heard that it was easier is that a money order is great for the recipient. A real money order will never bounce, it’s fully backed by the bank (forged money orders are a different story).

With a receipt you should be able to get a refund, eventually. In your case, it sounds like some wires might have gotten crossed in the emotional turmoil over the situation. I think your first step should be to call the bank’s corporate customer service line (not the branch itself) and calmly ask what their policy is about how one goes about filing a refund request for a money order.