If this column isn’t finished, they came to take me to jail. I’m an honest person, more or less. I would not deliberately write a bad check. But this week I did a very bad thing. It was an accident, I swear. You are thinking, “That’s what they all say,” aren’t you?
It all started when I decided to take the plunge and replace my shabby, worn-out carpet with some of that new pre-finished hardwood. I made several trips to look and we even had someone out to measure and give us bids. We picked our favorite, Brazilian teak, gorgeous, and I wrote a check for the down payment.
That was that — except for one minor detail. I have two checking accounts.
You can probably fill in the blanks at this point. Yes, I used the wrong checkbook, the one I use for small purchases, the one attached to my debit card, the one without much money in it.
I figured it out when I used my debit card and the store wouldn’t accept it. Stupid clerk, I thought. I know I have plenty of money to cover a $10 purchase. Then there was also a stupid clerk at the drugstore that very same day. It dawned on me that I might have a problem.
I checked online banking to see what was going on with my bank account and to my horror it was $2000 in the red. Don’t tell anyone. The bank might cover an error until I could transfer some money. But I could understand them not wanting to go into a hole for that much.
The more you need to talk to someone, the harder it is to get through to customer service. After spending 30 minutes talking to the bank’s automated recordings and finally being cut off, I decided to just go to the bank in person and confess. I needed to know if the check bounced.
The service rep at the bank was actually pretty nice. He even waived the $35 bank fee. I guess he could tell by my scarlet neck that I didn’t do this all the time. But my check had bounced like it was written on a basketball at 9 a.m. that morning. He suggested putting enough money in the account to cover it. Good idea.
“Some merchants run bounced checks through again and some don’t,” he told me. I had several choices at this point:
1. Transfer money into the account and hope they redeposit the check.
2. Stop payment and write a new check out of the right account.
3. Call the merchant and find out how I can fix this mess.
4. Lock the doors and hide.
I probably should have chosen number 4, but I picked 1 and 3. I called the store from my cell phone and the salesman gave me the number for their corporate headquarters. The customer service guy on the other end of the line was looking at his watch and was not too sympathetic about bad checks. He put me on hold.
Finally, he came back and said he had made a note of my call and I had been assigned an adjustor who would call me within 36 hours. I’ve not heard anything yet except for an email with my complaint number. Complaint? I would call it more of an apology than a complaint. I’ve never had so much trouble trying to give people money in my life.
Anyhow, the sheriff hasn’t come yet. I did have a knock on the door, but it was only a gypsy traveler wanting to seal the asphalt on my driveway. Wonder if he will take a check?
Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss