Thursday, January 16, 2014

Check Cashing

I never gave it much thought, I would get a check from my university, my employer, or someone would give me one to pay back money I was owed, so I just went to the bank(or mailed it) and deposited it.  When I could I had my money sent to me via Automatic deposit.  I always had ID, I always had a bank account, if I wanted to use it.  Then a few years ago, I moved to the state I live in, found out the bank I dealt with didn't have any local branches, so when I started mailing in my paycheck for deposit I found out that it was held for several days (bank in a different state).  Well, becoming wise to this,
I would cash the first check, deposit the second check.  Where to go, Wal-Mart, he it was cheap to cash my check, until they refused to cash my paycheck.  I was given a song and dance reason (actually it was a valid reason), so I started going to my employers bank to cash it the first day off I had. 

Then the day came that they stopped holding my bosses paychecks, and all my checks went to my bank for deposit, they I went on auto-pay.  Never a problem.  However, there is a problem, I will be the first to admit when it comes to many things I am an idiot, I am a naive sucker.  I had always taken it as a fact that you go to someplace like Wal-Mart, present a check and ID, they cash the check unless it is bouncing through the store. 

I got corrected tonight, in a way that left me wondering, what the hell?  So, here I go, doing my Rabbi shtick, taking a little ole lady to the store so she can cash a check.  Its a nice looking check, big italic letters across the top Federal Treasury (or something like that, I didn't gawk), with the Statue of Liberty on it, honestly, I didn't pay much attention to it, thought it looked like the tax returns I get in the past, for all I know it might have been just that.  Anyway, she goes it, comes back out, says they refused to cash it.  We go back in, she tries it again, nope not happening.  Declined.

Call the people who run Wal-Mart's check cashing service, just to find out why.  Well, little old ladies, screaming, and using a metric ton of profanity make me nervous.  Even the poor dog was trying to crawl under the seat from the raging that this 90 pound 70 year old woman was doing.  At this point, I think even God himself is quivering in fear praying to someone else to calm her.

So after fifteen minutes of horrid broken English, she gets put on hold...  For 30 minutes, when the line abruptly goes dead.  She calls back, fifteen minutes into this conversation she gets to a supervisor where we discover that the Federal Government of the United States is in the habit of issuing fraudulent checks, or bouncing them.  Then we hear that she hasn't cashed enough checks in the last year to get anything cashed.  Finally, we are told that each time you walk into a store that uses Certegy Check Services, your check is ran through a computer, which is painfully obvious to match for certain criteria that decides if the check is cashed or refused.  So this little old lady who has become evil incarnate asks what the criteria and guidelines are.  Having them refuse my checks I am curious about this myself.  Turns out that they do not have to honor any checks from any business (even the US Government).

So, theoretically speaking, you could walk into any Wal-Mart, buy a money order, fill it out, hand it to the person behind you, when they attempt to cash it, Wal-Mart does not have to honor it.  This according to the spokesman for CCS.  Now the problem is, when a check fails to process Wal-Mart will run it a few times, just to make sure its not a screw up (Company policy).  Needless to say, that voids the check.  So now, I politely ask what the criteria and guidelines for cashing a check through their service are, and was told they are "secret".  I mean secret, as in Top Secret, NSA investigating you for porn secret.  This is to prevent people from passing bad checks.  I am sorry, but almost everywhere I have resided, when someone refuses service, they best have a good reason for it, and you have a right to know why.  But nope, they can skate on it. 

For Wal-Mart's part in this, they are actually appalled, and seem fairly upset (of course we know with someplace like that, and employee does not a corporation make).  The old lady asked if I could take her back down to Wal-Mart tomorrow, that she said they would honor the check, as any government checks are honored at their store.  We will see.