Flutterby™! : All your checks are belong...

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All your checks are belong...

2002-06-27 20:46:29+00 by Pete 11 comments

Okay, so I'm an idiot because I put the wrong check in the wrong envelope when paying bills, but that doesn't stop me from being a bit disturbed that Verizon successfully cashed a check made out to Cox. WTF?!

[ related topics: moron ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 22:46:24+00 by: markd

Virginia Power cashed a check of mine that had no signature. Maybe the folks that have huge numbers of checks to plow through each month get special dispensation.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 23:07:45+00 by: TC

you might embarrass your bank by asking them about that. They are the ones that dropped the ball as the gatekeepers to your money.

#Comment made: 2002-06-27 23:09:35+00 by: krebby

It's a sad fact, but all that is required to debit your account is a valid account number and an amount. The enormity of reviewing every check that passes through the system for accuracy in every entry field is beyond the capability of mere humans.

#Comment made: 2002-06-28 14:46:16+00 by: ebradway

Paper checks are quite expensive to process (about $1.50 end-to-end). This process is as automated as possible. The only real 'check' on checks is the consumer. You have 60 days to contest a draft on your account. But you won't embarass anyone by pointing out their mistakes - it's all part of the game.

BTW, I bet that the Cox check didn't have your Verizon account number on it. Most big companies put money from checks without account numbers into a 'slush-fund'. It's up to the consumer to then prove that the money was actually sent and which account it should be applied to.

#Comment made: 2002-06-28 15:11:26+00 by: Pete

I was gonna go check that, as I have the pseudo-carbon imprints with my checks, but I just switched to a new book. Ehp. I'll check at home.

But it is my standard practice to write my account numbers on the checks.

And I was alerted to the error by Cox sending me back my Verizon check, so they obviously checked (oh, how punny).

#Comment made: 2002-06-28 16:50:14+00 by: petronius

Was the Cox check for more than your Verizon payment, and if so, did Verizon credit your account?

As to proving checks, I own two properties, and pay taxes on one directly while the bank escrow pays the other. The Cook County IL collector is such a yutz that when I paid the wrong bill with my check, they said I "might" have an overpayment, and they would refund it for me if I could prove I paid it. They don't give you credits, that would be as hard as admitting that they actually cashed the check.

So I got my cancelled check back from the bank, and called up the mortgage holder to get a copy of the one they paid. They sent me a nice photocopy of a check for over a million dollars, with an attached printout with my account cirlced, on page 15! Of course, CitiMortgage sends in one big check instead of a few thusand small ones. I decided to chalk it up to experience.

#Comment made: 2002-06-28 17:10:08+00 by: other_todd

Once upon a time, when I was living hand to mouth, I got a book full of all sorts of semi-dirty tricks for increasing float (time between when a check is written and when the money is actually debited) and delaying bill-collectors and so forth. I don't think I have the book anymore, and I wouldn't try some of these tactics now, but one of the more desperate tactics for increasing your time was to "accidentally" mail the wrong checks to the wrong companies. They assume you are trying to pay them but made a mistake, the logic goes, and both will send the checks back with a letter asking you to correct the problem ... but, most importantly, they won't put your account in arrears while you fix it; you have bought extra weeks with benefit of doubt.

I tried this once with big utility companies and had the same result as Pete; one complained, one simply deposited a check that wasn't made out to them. As has been pointed out already, it's your bank that you should complain to about this, not the utility.

It's true that everyone in the banking chain hates dealing with checks even more than the government hates dealing with one-dollar bills. This is why you are constantly importuned to use direct-debit methods. Unfortunately, you and I are not the only ones who like that few days of float (or, yes, the ability to kite a check now and then). Large businesses like it too. A lot. Until they change, the paper check will stick around.

#Comment made: 2002-06-28 18:43:13+00 by: Pete

I did write their account ID's on both checks.

The check for Cox was smaller than the check for Verizon. Cox bounced it back to me, Verizon cashed the smaller Cox check as a partial payment.

#Comment made: 2002-06-29 23:34:33+00 by: Shawn

Most big companies put money from checks without account numbers into a 'slush-fund'. It's up to the consumer to then prove that the money was actually sent and which account it should be applied to.

Really? I've spent my entire life not putting the account number on my checks. And I've never (knock, knock) had a problem with the money not being credited.

#Comment made: 2002-07-01 13:50:51+00 by: ebradway

Shawn: You're wasting your luck on stupid stuff. Start buying lottery tickets!

The niche market that almost saved the .com I was working for was attaching EDI invoice data to electronic payments. That way big companies can actually see invoice detail on every incoming payment. Otherwise, they have to match up the payment with a paper invoice, involving humans.

Also, about six years ago I was talking to a friend who works for a local bank. I asked her why the bank charges for online bill pay and ATM usage but I can write checks and talk to tellers for free. I know that online bill pay and ATMs cost ALOT less than paper checks and human tellers. She said she didn't understand it either, but the markup is similar to the premium we pay for CDs over tapes and albums (CDs are much cheaper to manufacture but, when they were introduced they cost 2X albums or tapes).

#Comment made: 2002-07-01 16:18:05+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

For some reason gamblings seems to be immune to my particular brand of luck. (I've actually tried to quantify it from time to time and have come to the basic conclusion that it only kicks in to keep me alive, generally healthy and moderately well provided for.)