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  • Returned Check

    My friend texted me today to let me know a $50 check I gave her son as a graduation gift did not clear and to pay her the $20 return check fee when I can.

    I immediately venmo’d her $70 and asked if the bank gave her a reason and for a picture of the check so I could call my bank to see what the issue was.

    After talking with the customer service agent, his best guess was that my signature partially goes over one of the account numbers which prevented my friend’s bank from reading the check properly. My name is such that it has a letter that dips below the signature line when writing in cursive and it’s really easy to “hit” the numbers below. I looked through my check history and they are literally all the same signature and I’ve never had an issue before with them processing. It seems obvious now to be careful to never have your signature cover a number on a check but I can honestly say I have never ever thought about it before. I felt like a real dummy. So PSA don’t do that.

  • #2
    And of course your friend will never totally believe you! Good tip, I've never thought about it.

    Comment


    • #3
      The signature interference doesn't sound right to me. I wonder if your friend tried to deposit it with a scanned photo and there was a ripple in the scan so that part of the number was obliterated.
      "There is some ontological doubt as to whether it may even be possible in principle to nail down these things in the universe we're given to study." --text msg from my kid

      "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." --Frederick Douglass

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Drake3287 View Post
        And of course your friend will never totally believe you! Good tip, I've never thought about it.
        Haha true. She definitely seemed miffed when she texted me thinking I wrote her son a bad check.


        Originally posted by Joan.of.the.Arch View Post
        The signature interference doesn't sound right to me. I wonder if your friend tried to deposit it with a scanned photo and there was a ripple in the scan so that part of the number was obliterated.
        I think she deposited it on her phone knowing that she is super efficient and the fact that she still had the check to send me a picture of. The check was completely flat and unwrinkled in the picture she sent me so I don’t think that’d be the case. The bank rep said they never received the deposit request from her bank and was pretty quick to ask me about my signature as if it’s happened to others before.

        To be honest, I’m a little annoyed at her bank for returning the check and charging a fee. It’s very obvious what the account number is to the human eye but I can see how a scanner would have issues. But I also accept that I should have been more careful with my signature so just chalking this up to “stupid tax”.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jenn_jenn View Post
          so just chalking this up to “stupid tax”.
          Often, that's the simplest option... Just accept it as a mistake & move on. Some things are just trivial in the big picture & not worth the emotional expenditure required to fight it.
          "Praestantia per minutus" ... "Acta non verba"

          Comment


          • #6
            Jenn
            This is a good PSA message. Sorry this happened to you. DH and I had something similar happen to us years ago. It was around Christmas time and we found out about it from the merchant on a Friday (from a voice mail left on our landline). Earlier, we had put extra funds in our checking account to cover Christmas expenses (and we also had overdraft protection)--so, all weekend I was worried someone had hacked into our checking account and stolen all our Christmas funds (this was before we could check account status online).

            Anyway, when we could finally follow up with the merchant on the following Monday we discovered that there was plenty of $$ in the account (funds had not been hacked) and the problem was that it was the signature that extended down into the account number field that caused the problem. I had never heard of such a thing. I took a personal finance class when I was in high school and they covered check writing in great detail. But, they never covered that particular detail. (But, when I was in high school I think there still was a human involved in clearing checks. )

            I think they should move the signature line (or make a box for the signature). Or, move the account numbers or cover the account numbers with something that prevents writing over them with a pen. (On the other hand--these days I am less enthusiastic about using checks in general because they do expose the routing numbers and account number information to anyone to whom you present a check. And, with the mobile deposit--you don't know how the check will be disposed after it has been deposited - especially if it is an individual as opposed to a business. Tossed into the trash? Shredded? )

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jenn_jenn View Post

              To be honest, I’m a little annoyed at her bank for returning the check and charging a fee. It’s very obvious what the account number is to the human eye but I can see how a scanner would have issues.
              I agree with you on this--why didn't the mobile AP just come back with an error such as, "account numbers can not be read"?
              I use mobile deposit all the time--and my AP is really finicky--it might not "like" the light level or the background color (not enough contrast) or the size of the check or the numbers can not be read (because the light level is too low ). If there is something it doesn't "like", It just won't proceed beyond the check scanning step.

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              • #8
                I always found that weird that if someone gives you a check and it bounces, it's your fault and you have to pay the penalty. No repercussions on the parties end that gave you the check to begin with. This scenario is different and it somehow got screwed up.

                Things like bounced checks always made me wonder what would happen if you sold a used car and received a check that bounced? You wouldn't know about it for days. Everything would be signed over to other party by then and they could be long gone. Have fun getting your vehicle back. I would personally only accept cash. Rant over.

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                • #9
                  I wrote out a check today and signed my name as usual. For whatever reason I looked just before I sealed the envelope and noticed my signature ran through the numbers.

                  I thought of this thread and opted to re-write the check.

                  I think my signature will be shrinking rather than how I have always signed it, now that I was made aware of this.

                  thanks

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jluke View Post
                    I wrote out a check today and signed my name as usual. For whatever reason I looked just before I sealed the envelope and noticed my signature ran through the numbers.

                    I thought of this thread and opted to re-write the check.

                    I think my signature will be shrinking rather than how I have always signed it, now that I was made aware of this.

                    thanks
                    Totally. Good point Jluke, you want the check to process no problem without any issues.
                    james.c.hendrickson@gmail.com
                    202.468.6043

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would have recommended pushing back much harder in this case.

                      I find it absurd that your friend's bank charged them a $20 fee because a check they deposited bounced. I've never been in this situation, but how are they to blame?

                      Personally I would have taken the cancelled check to the bank in person and demanded to speak with the branch manager.

                      I disagree with the service reps "guess" that your signature was the cause. One because I have personally done this before with out issue, and two because he didn't actually have an answer, only a guess.

                      If you're able I'd suggest going straight to your friend's bank and have the same discussion with the branch manager there. Your friend is owed a refund. Then your friend can return the extra $20 to you, or she can keep it for the kid.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by myrdale View Post
                        I would have recommended pushing back much harder in this case.

                        I find it absurd that your friend's bank charged them a $20 fee because a check they deposited bounced. I've never been in this situation, but how are they to blame?

                        Personally I would have taken the cancelled check to the bank in person and demanded to speak with the branch manager.

                        I disagree with the service reps "guess" that your signature was the cause. One because I have personally done this before with out issue, and two because he didn't actually have an answer, only a guess.

                        If you're able I'd suggest going straight to your friend's bank and have the same discussion with the branch manager there. Your friend is owed a refund. Then your friend can return the extra $20 to you, or she can keep it for the kid.
                        My friend lives on the opposite coast from me and banks at a local credit union so there’s not really an option for me to go in person.

                        I did let her know what my bank said and suggested that, if she’s up for it, she could call and likely be refunded the $20 and if she does that to just give it to her son as extra. I left it up to her to decide if it is worth her time.

                        It’d probably be a 10 minute call at most. If I had to bet, I don’t think she has called or will but it’s not really a situation I can handle myself since it was not my bank that charged the fee. For $20, I don’t really care to add stress to my life over it. I don’t have any reason to distrust my bank. Yes, it’s not a 100% certain answer but given that they never received the deposit request from her bank, it indicates that her bank couldn’t identify the account number and looking at my signature, they advised it to be the likely cause. I have also had multiple checks cashed that go across the account numbers without issue but the bank rep advised some systems are more sensitive than others. Mobile deposits have always seemed extra finicky in my experience and so this scenario seems very plausible to me.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          this will sound stupid but in canada 20+ years ago checks were immediately cleared electronically. My DH asked me why does the US take so long to clear checks and banking in US is not instantaneous. Why is the US so backwards? too much money laundering?
                          LivingAlmostLarge Blog

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jenn_jenn View Post
                            It'd probably be a 10 minute call at most....... but it's not really a situation I can handle myself since it was not my bank that charged the fee. For $20, I don't really care to add stress to my life over it.
                            Personally I'd suggest your friends bank increase their fee schedule to $100. I mean why not, people are willing to pay.

                            If a check I issued while my account was in good standing bounced, I'd move hell and high water to see it was set straight, even if that meant terminating my relationship with my current bank. But then again that's just me.

                            Honestly this is most likely just a case that a machine kicked. I have to believe there are people in both banks that have the common sense to say "yes this is a mistake and we will make it right for our customers".

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Too bad it's not between just you and the bank. If it were I'd say call them up and give them h3ll. However, with friendship involved that certainly complicates things. FWIW, I think a good friend would make that call to get your $20 back.

                              Have you received a thank you note from the recipient yet?

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