I don't write a lot of cheques.
I pay all the bills on our Credit Union's website.
The only cheques I have to write are for things like house insurance and school fees (don't get me started) that can't be paid online.
Although September is usually the month that extra cheques are written, I kept forgetting to send the various cheques for high school fees x 2, and elementary school fees + grade 6 band fees so they didn't get sent to school til October...then there was the magazine fund raiser for which a cheque was issued...
So, not being a cheque writing person, I have gotten out of the habit of "balancing the cheque-book" or even looking at it very often. Usually a cheque is written, the cheque is cashed/ cleared through our account, end of story.
I always forget that schools and bands tend to hang on to their cheques forever, depositing them long after they've been sent out, usually long past the time I'm remembering that I wrote them.
Last weekend, just before payday, I discovered that we were overdrawn.
That in itself is enough to cause even me to blush with shame. However, we got our salary deposited, and it looked as though all was right with the banking world once more.
Long story short...after the deposit was made, which was after the account came up overdrawn, the offending cheques were returned, and additional charges were taken from our account.
I phoned the banking institution and questioned this transaction.
It seems that, of course, once a transaction is in the computer, it goes through, and even though the account was no longer insufficient, the cheques were still sent back and service charges levied on top of the original fees. If I had phoned Monday morning, (who knew?!) they would have stopped the return of the cheques and we would not have been charged the extra fees.
I decided there was probably nothing I could do about it, so I thanked the young man for his time and rang off.
Husband wasn't quite so understanding or compliant, and thought I should have taken a stronger line, since we've done all our banking there since we moved to this city and have entrusted them with our mortgage- and on the whole are good customers. (we've been overdrawn once before, but understandably Husband was out of town with one bank card, and I was home with another...lack of communication, but no cheques were bounced in the making of that mini-drama)
I was willing to let it go, until I got a notice from the institution in question, today, informing me that cheques had been returned because of insufficient funds and "a service charge may be levied against your account based on your Account Agreement". If I had any questions or required any further information I was to contact my Credit Union.
Now, the letter was dated from the day that the service charges were indeed levied against my account.
Five days later I received notice of that fact.
I was irritated enough to phone my Credit Union again to try to talk to a manager and see if they couldn't give me satisfaction.
The problem I have, however, is that I'm not generally a hot-tempered person. I may get righteously indignant, or even full blown angry about something, but once I've vented I cool off very quickly. During the time it took to get the account information on the computer screen and put the call through, I had pretty much cooled off and was wondering at the futility of even bothering to try to get the secondary (larger) charges reversed and put back into our account.
I talked to a nice representative of the bank, and tried to be coherent as I explained my conundrum, all the while becoming more and more convinced that I was a fool and there was nothing anyone there could do for me. I assured her that I knew it had nothing to do with her, and that I understood that once everything was in the computer it is next to impossible to stop it or reverse a transaction. I tried to make her see that it was the dates that bothered me most, and the fact that if I had known I could phone none of this would have happened. The timing was just frustrating. The cheques cleared through, we were overdrawn, we made a deposit, then the cheques were returned and we were dinged with a huge service charge.
She said she could get her manager to call me back if I liked, and I said, sure that would be fine.
I knew I had lost.
Should I have tried to fuel my anger? Should I have tried to be more pushy and abrasive? Should I not have been so understanding of the system and so considerate of the representative who was looking at my account information on her computer across town?
Well, Heather from the Credit Union called me back to say that she had talked to her manager and the manager had agreed to reverse the service charges, after reviewing my account.
Who says nice guys finish last?
Hooray for Heather from the Credit Union!