Bank Teller: If You Have No Patience And Don’t Listen, Why Should I Feel Sorry For You?

Reader A. works as a teller at a regional bank. She write in with some advice for readers who use banks (and everyone uses banks) that will make your visits to the bank smoother and happier, and make your dealing with the tellers at your own bank more pleasant. Though we hope that none of our readers are as unreasonable and impatient as the customers A. describes.

She writes:

Patience. This covers many different things. First and foremost, if you are in a true hurry, don’t come to the bank. Things can and will happen, and it will result in a wait for the customer. Don’t come during your lunch break. Everyone else does too. Don’t come wanting to make a large (i.e., $10k or more) deposit in the hopes that it will be done in two minutes. Tellers have set deposit amount they have to follow. This number depends on the amount of experience they have. If it’s over that threshold, we have to get a manager’s approval. If the manager is unable to check things out right that second, you will have to wait.

Holds. We can and will put holds on checks that we do not have recourse on. This GENERALLY means if you don’t have the matching funds in your account(s), we will put a hold on your check. Frequent overdrafters and new accounts are red flags for us too, and will likely result in a hold as well. I know it stinks when a hold is placed – I’ve been there too. The reason this is in place is to protect the bank, me and you. If your check comes back bad for whatever reason, the loss will hit you first. We will take the money out of your account to cover the losses. If the amount of losses is greater than what is in your account, it comes from the bank. If it gets to this point and is a large enough loss, it goes against me and my losses. Enough of this, and I get fired. When we put a hold on checks, we follow Regulation CC guidelines as far as the amount of time the money is held. Throughout the hold period, depending on the reason for the hold, we may release funds periodically until the whole check is released. If, during this period, the check comes back bad, the remaining funds will drop off. That bad $20k check you put into your account of $1,000? Suddenly the hold we placed on the check is looking good. Instead of being out $19k, you are only out a few thousand dollars.

Preparedness. Please be prepared. This not only covers any slips you may need to fill out, but this includes the checks themselves. We will not put anyone else’s check into your account. Some banks may allow this under certain circumstances; mine does not. Please make sure all of the blanks in the checks are filled out and are filled out correctly. If the pay to the order line is empty, I will not accept it. I will not fill it in for you, and if you fill it out in front of me I definitely won’t accept it UNLESS the check is drawn off of your account. The second line where the written amount of the check is MUST be filled out. It is the legal amount we go by when we run the checks. Technically, we can go without the numbered amount when this part is filled out correctly. Again, if this part is not filled out or not filled out correctly, you need to take it up with the check writer. Finally, the check must be SIGNED for obvious reasons. Please pay attention to what you are giving me when you want to do a transaction. Yelling and complaining about this sort of thing will earn you absolutely no sympathy. My managers will back me up and you will end up leaving embarrassed because you caused a scene ultimately because you couldn’t pay attention to something so simple.

ID. I will ask for ID if you are wanting to receive cash in some form or fashion. If I know you because you are a regular, I will not ask for your ID. Complaining about this will not earn you sympathy either. Complain enough, and you may earn a nickname. We will laugh at your immaturity immediately after you’re out of earshot and you will be known as the person who refuses to show ID if you choose to come again. We ask for ID for your protection. If we didn’t verify identities, then literally anyone can get money from anyone’s account.

Listen and ask questions. If there is something you don’t understand, please ask questions. We will either answer them ourselves or find someone who can. I cannot even begin to say how many times we’ve had customers say they understand things only to come back yelling a week later simply because they didn’t listen/ask questions. I remember my manager placing a hold on a check one time. He explained to the customer how it would work and even gave them a receipt explaining how the release of funds worked. He even specifically told the customer not to write any checks on the held funds when she said she had immediate plans for the money. He felt no sympathy mere days later when a check came back from this account that was written based on the funds. He had no sympathy in telling the bank not to pay the check.

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