Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Peeve: Bank Holds on Checks

We had a roof leak back in December. Fixing the tile roof was cheap ($450) by comparison to fixing the inside. The ceiling removal and decontamination chamber looking plastic room were over $2000 and I still had a hole in my ceiling when they were done. That repair was about $600. It still needs to be painted. But the real money pit was the wood floor. There was a 6 x 9 foot section in the middle of the living room (which at the time was my studio)where the wood floor was damaged beyond repair. The flooring is engineered wood by Pergo. Pergo doesn't make engineered wood floors anymore. They just make laminate floors. So despite the fact that I bought a product that came with a 25 year fully-transferrable warranty, replacement with the same wood is not possible. Don't get me started.

So the insurance settled on replacing all the wood that adjoined the room with the damaged wood. So that is the dining room, foyer, 45 x 4.5 ft hallway and 3 steps down into the family room; about 1100 sq ft of wood.

So after over 2 months, we get the check from the insurance company. It is a nice sized check. So it is made payable to me and DH plus the bank that holds the mortgage on our home, WaMu. We do not bank with WaMu. The check is from the insurance company who banks with US Bank. These are the steps required to get what is essentially our money.

- Call the bank (WaMu- becoming Chase!) that holds our mortgage about endorsing the check to us.

- WaMu told us to call the WaMu office in South Carolina and get their OK. Got the OK from a nice lady named Charleen.

- Took the check back to WaMu and gave them Charleens phone number so they could call her themselves, which they did while we waited. So now we have a partially endorsed US Bank Check.

- We went to US Bank to cash the check. We did not go to our bank with the check because we already know that B of A will hold the check for 2 - 3 weeks. Yeah, anything over $2,500. It sucks. So we chose a US Bank that shares a parking lot with B of A. I don't want to drive around with that kind of cash in my pocket. We end up talking to 3 staffers at US Bank, two were managers.

- US Bank has to call the WaMu bank to verify that the endorsement (not stamped, by the way, just written) is real, not forged.

- Then once that is done, US Bank had to call the US Bank branch (across town) on which the check was drawn to verify that the insurance company has an account there.

- Then once they verify that the insurance company banks there, US Bank had to call the insurance company to verify the amount of the check. I guess that's because we could have squeezed in an extra number before the comma.

- That's where they hit the snag, the insurance company folks had already left for the day. (They probably had to spend some time doing their banking.) So US Bank got a copy of the check and our driver's licenses and they will call the insurance company in the morning.

- Here's the kicker, US Bank will then give us a bank-certified check in the amount of the check, probably minus $10 fee for the cashiers check.

- Then we will walk it across the parking lot to B of A to deposit it into our checking account.

Now let me pause in the story here to remind everybody that this is 2009 not 1959. All banks have computers. The teller at the window can hit a couple of keys and know, within 10 seconds, exactly what our balance is down to the last penny.

OK, back to the story of cashing an insurance check. So I made a dinner bet with my husband that when we walk into B of A with that US Bank certified check this afternoon, they will put a hold on it. Actually the bet is, "I will not leave the bank with $17,849in my purse". Terry says that B of A will honor the cashier's check and the total amount will be available immediately. Anybody else want to get a free dinner tonight? Who will have the money tonight, me or the bank? Just to be clear, I would never walk out of the bank with that kind of cash. I probably don't have more than $30 in my purse right now. Who needs cash, that's why we have bank cards.

Now, we have learned over time that banks like to have this "phased pay-out". If you bring them a big check drawn on another bank, they will let you have a piece of it, say $2,500 in 5 business days, then half will be available in 10 business days and then the rest in some other # of business days.

To be fair, the bank will pay us interest on the amount of the check while it is on hold. And that's fine. But I don't want the $5.35 of interest, I want my money.

It is MY money, why won't the bank let me have it.

Why can't B of A's computer talk to the computer at US Bank or WaMu or wherever and see that the check is good. Why? I'll tell you why. They hold your money for x days so they can show that they have deposits worth x million. It's the old mine is bigger than yours game in a bank-sized scale. I think that maybe the pony express could carry my money faster than the bank computer's will give it to me.

It really does not surprise me that people put their money in their mattress.

UPDATE: OK, for those of you who signed up for the virtual dinner, you win. Yup, B of A did not let me down. We got the cashier's check from US bank and walked across the parking lot to the B of A. Then got in line behind 13 other people waiting for 2, count them 1 -2, tellers who were working. Can we cash the check? No. So will they give us any of this money? They allowed us to have $100whole dollars. Can we have the rest? No, not until tomorrow. So what will it be? How about a virtual steak dinner or a virtual lobster dinner. We deserve it for being realists.


Shelley said...

I feel your pain!!! You might want to be glad that you didn't get it in cash. Show up with more than (I think) $10,000 in cash, and you have to fill out forms to show where you got it. You sure look like a drug dealer to me!!! JK!


Carla said...

D#*% Banks!! I finally got tired of the run around from larger banks, so I moved several of my accounts to a small local bank down the street that didn't have any bad loans in the last few years since they didn't sell and bundle their home loans.

The teller and VP are clients, so everyone knows me by name. What a difference!

Good luck!!

helen-mary said...

I was laughing and nodding my head while reading your Banking Tales of Woe. I worked for a (Canadian) bank for many years. In Canada the system is much better but many many clients still get the same run-around. They have turned into nameless, faceless, CEO-overpaying machines. So sad. Yaay to getting your money from the Insurance Company, though!

My life has changed in the last couple of years - some bumps, I retired from quilting, and then I moved to Texas. I'm anxious to see what new adventures await me in the next phase of my life.

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