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I'd like some thought on Banks

By HAL 9000 Moderator ·
OK I know most people here know I consult for a bank and while I'll openly admit to this I'll also admit that I'd never consider banking with them either. But a few days ago I received my latest bank statement and found out I was well and truly overdrawn on my check account and that it all dated back to a check that had gone astray in the post and that I had placed a stop payment on. I actually paid for this privilege but when I approached the bank and asked exactly what was going on they informed me that as I had not given them the correct information they had just paid the check. Currently they are looking into the matter but I did give them the correct information about who the check was written out to how much it was for and it's number. Now while I wasn't at all concerned by the amount as it was only $4.00 AU and it cost more for the stop payment when it was presented to the bank for payment it was for a different amount and as yet I don't know who it was made out to so I'll leave that for latter but lets say that there was a significant difference in the amount paid by the bank as to what I actually wrote the check out for and as I had not given them the correct information they had paid the check without any hesitation.

At the moment I'm still hoping it was a data entry error but I'm not holding my breath for it either. Now I followed all the correct procedures and have even requested monthly statements which while the bank is willing to bill me for they still seem unwilling or incapable of supplying these so the check in question was paid on the 15 November 2003 and I found out about it on 3 March 2004 which leaves quite a bit of time for the trail to have gone well and truly cold so while I'm not expecting any resolution on this matter I am lets say a bit miffed that while the bank was only too willing to accept payment for the stop payment they still paid the check.

Now maybe it's just me who has had a few bad experiences with the banks in general but I'm interested if there are any other people out there at TR who have had similar experiences with banks or any who are only too happy with the service that they receive from their chosen bank?


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by TheChas In reply to I'd like some thought on ...


IMHO, the banks in the US are NOT interested in customers that plan to have less than $10,000 on deposit.

They have structured their business model such that the less money you keep in your account, the more money you MUST pay in fees for the privilege of allowing the bank to process your account.

Most US banks offer you the "convenience" of NOT sending your canceled checks back to you. You have the option to pay for having the canceled checks sent to you.

In the US, many people do have an option. If they belong to a specific group, (usually, but not limited to the company they work for) they can join and use a Credit Union.
The primary difference between a credit union and a bank is the limited customer base of a given credit union.

While they are being bought up and merged at a high rate, we can still find a few "small" local banks that do seem to be more interested in helping their customers.

Now, what I suspect happened to you is CHECK FRAUD.
Someone found (intercepted) your check and altered it.
You will likely find that the amount and payee have been changed.

Here in the US, this type of check fraud is SO common that we are advised NOT to leave ANY outgoing mail in our personal mail boxes.
I personally deposit ANY mail that includes a payment into the box at my local post office.

In the near future, my employer will stop giving us pay stubs. We will need to go on-line to verify our deductions and pay.


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Hi there TheChas

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to MHO

That happened here is first it is a business account so I have to have it with a bank "which I'd prefer not to" but them's the breaks. And yes it is either check fraud or an error in data entry at the bank in question funnily enough the bank in question doesn't want the police involved and at the moment until I get back some form of answer of what has gone on here I'll wait before informing the police as there are several thousand dollars involved. What id did find interesting was the fact that while they where willing to take the money for a stop payment they still paid the check and their claim was that I didn't give them the correct information as if I would know how much a check would be altered to.

Incidentally I follow the same practices as well and this particular letter was posted through a Post Office but went astray somewhere down the line and until I have some more information to work off I really don't know whats happened to the money.

What I did find particularly interesting in this case was that I went into the bank and cashed a few cash checks over the time and they didn't raise an form of complaint even though the account was overdrawn at the time but they did manage to add bank fees on each occasion which is now $30.00 per transaction. While I'm pretty miffed about the loss of the money in the first place I'll get over it as it was only labor I'm really peeved about all the bank charges which come to more than what was stolen and it should never have happened as I have specifically set up this account with no overdraw facilities so at the very least they should have questioned me when I went into the bank in question and withdrew a few dollars for petrol.

Actually trying to sought out this whole mess has cost me quite a lot of money in lost income as I've had to spend hours finding all the paper work which was filed in the TAX File to prove to the bank that I did have a "Stop Payment" on this particular check as usual it's always my fault and never the banks. But what I did find interesting was when I first approached the bank about the thing was their reaction when I asked to speak to the manager and I was asked why? I just replied there has been a Fraud committed and I want the bank manager to pass all the information on to the Police for investigation. Well I was at that stage no longer welcome in the main section of the bank and was removed to a small office so that no other customer could overhear the discussion and the fact that the manager was not available even though I could see him when I walked into the bank I was told what I had done wrong by a teller who even then could not explain exactly why the current balance was what it was as even she came to a different amount to what was stated. But what was the most interesting thing was that on no account where the police to be told seems that this particular bank doesn't want the publicity so I'm waiting for a few days to see what they come up with as an offer or possible explanation.

But I still can't understand exactly why the check was paid in the first place after the stop payment was placed upon it. Incidental the check was cashed 3 months after the stop payment was put in place and the bank was told that the check had gone missing in the post.

While I'm a bit more than peeved about all the money going missing I'm really pissed about the banks actions in this case but other than a few $ I'm not affected much as there has been none of my suppliers affected and all the staff have been paid. But the bank has made money out of this and that is what is upsetting me more than anything else.


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by john_wills In reply to Hi there TheChas

The bank manager is the thief, which is why he'd rather you din't tell the police.

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Even if he wasn't responsible

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to hypothesis

They sure as Hell made enough in Bank Fees. I'm thinking that he might just have to explain why he has to refund me if things go wrong for him and the bank particularly now that I've seen a photocopy of the check in question.

Even the Police Officer who I reported it to was surprised that the bank had paid it as it had obviously been altered and that was on the photocopy God only knows what they will find when they see the original.


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by jkaras In reply to hypothesis

there could be an on going investigation and they are trying to get the maximum goods on the party responsible to provide proper documentation. When in retail this was the case more often than not. To properly get the goods on someone it has to be cut in dry, by the book, and a proper established motive with supporting evidence to rule out speculation and wrongful accusations. Failure to do so opens major legalities that could cost more than the loss. It really sucks that this happens alot.

As for the banks, yeah they suck. I hate them having control of your money which they profit off of in investments and treat you like a jerk. The thing that gets me most is their plans to remove customer service from the banks to reduce the possibility of theft, and employee overhead. They are all about profit not service the relationship should be symbiotic not parasitic. To tell you you cant close your account till x amount of time is rediculous, if you commit check fraud they can get you, so that's not it, its about taking away their investment money. While managing in retail I dealt with so much check fraud it was crazy. Constantly people altered account no#s so if you as a business took an altered check it was your fault not the person frauding you because you cant prove they did it despite a paper trail a mile long from rubber checks all around town. These banks would fight tooth and nail for every cent. The first check I ever bounced was to my Community college who embarrassed me by taking me out of class that I passed a doosie while the class looked on. Went to the bank and they claimed I didnt have an account. I smiled and showed them their ATM card checks, temp checks, and paperwork. My butt was never kissed better, everyone in power got their turn to mooch a behind! I did also bounce a rent check by .25 and my bank of 9 years denied payment, this check cleared in less than 24 hours and it was a holiday weekend and payday. They graciously ate their own fees but not the fees to the other bank despite a over draft protection.

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Banks versus Credit Unions

by Oldefar In reply to MHO

While I agree that credit unions typically have a smaller customer base than a bank, I don't think that is the PRIMARY difference.

Banks are a for profit business that attempts to maximize the profits for the stockholders. Officers are appointed by the board of directors, who are paid. The profit aspect means that business and real estate loans tend to dominate, and fees are imposed to maintain profit levels.

Credit unions are not for profit member owned institutions. By law, credit unions in the US have to reinvest all profits into shareholder dividens, reduced fees, increased services, or lower interest rates. The board of directors are elected by the shareholders - those who have placed their money in the credit union. The loans are primarily small personal and automobile loans.

In short - banks are driven to make money off of you, primarily by investing the money you deposit. All services and benefits are merely to attract you to place your money in their hands. Credit unions are a cooperative focused first on service and then on an increase in value to the members - those who have their money on deposit.

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While you're right Oldefar

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Banks versus Credit Union ...

Over here there are Tax benefits in using Banks for business accounts as apposed to Credit Unions and then there are the fees involved by the banks to deal with the Credit Union so honestly while being far cheaper to use they are not a viable alternative to the banks.

I've looked into this and found that every bank check that I deposit into a Credit Union/Building Society as over here they are pretty much the same thing will attract a $5.00 AU fee as a minimum as well as a % of the value of each check.

This makes Credit Unions unattractive for business accounts and then there is the fact that they are local so they do not have a country wide presence in most cases so any out of state checks attract larger fees.

But I was just interested in other peoples opinions of Banks in general.

Thanks Oldefar.


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Not familiar with AU banking laws

by Oldefar In reply to While you're right Oldefa ...

or business laws and taxes, for that matter.

Now here is an interesting approach if you want to apply some logic towards your issue with banks. Forget the accepted position that you need to have a business account with a bank in order to do business, and instead list the specific requirements you have with your business financials. Focus only on the what, not the how. Example - you don't have payroll checks. You have a requirement to compensate your employees from the company cash assets. Be as detailed as you like, just keep it focused on what, not how.

Once you have your requirement list, consider all the ways available to meet these requirements. No barriers, no preconcieved approaches, just a open consideration of every possible method. You can even throw out the concept of money if you like.

Now, you may end up needing a bank after all, at least to some degree. Or maybe you will find a fully barter based approach that eliminates money. Will Australia accept chickens as tax payments?

At the very least you will exercise creative thought. Maybe your employees can help and becoming better employees as a result. If it turns out you have to deal with banks and accept being burned at times at least you will expect this and do it by choice.

At my current rates as an independent consultant you now owe me lunch, 'roo burger acceptable and liter of whatever is on tap. ;-D

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I love you're reply Oldefar

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Not familiar with AU bank ...

But may I recommend Possum as it tastes better than Roo if cooked properly and a six pack of Darwin Stubbies?

The meat is fairly self explanatory but the beer is a different story as a Darwin Stubby is actually an 80 ounce bottle which is more than enough to put most people under the table. Also it is now misnamed as it is actually brewed in Cairns but only sold in Darwin.

Now about the other matter the check account is only used for payment of parts orders which can sometimes be quite large particularly when we are rolling out 100 computers or more so it isn't at all convenient to carry that amount of cash around.

The staff are paid by direct debit into their own bank accounts/credit unions or whatever from the main company account and the check account is only the very basic type that was specifically requested and with no overdraw facilities or any other features it is only the basic check account.

It was setup this way after a problem with a previous bank and has worked fairly well if somewhat expensive for over 1 year now. That is the whole banking package that I'm talking about and not just the check account. There is also a directive in place to transfer money from the main account to the check account if it should ever become overdrawn which as far as I'm concerned it never has until November last year and then the supposed practices where not followed by the bank in question.

But it gets even better as today I went there to deposit a few checks that where payment for services to a couple of companies for the last month and I was handed the photocopies of the check in question and told that I didn't request a "Stop Payment" on the check in question. I returned back there with the paper work about 30 minutes latter and specifically asked what the piece of paper that said "Stop Payment for a Check" was supposed to be and was told it was not actually a stop payment directive but a request to be notified when the check was presented {which didn't happen either.} I was also informed that they had the photocopies since last Friday and that they had tried to contact me at my place of business but that the phone had rung out as it had when they attempted to contact me and tell me that the check had been presented. Now normally this would be a convenient reason so I just called the base and told them not to answer the phone for the next 10 minutes and then asked the bank to ring my phone to see what happened. I first checked to make sure that they had the correct phone number before asking this. They complied and promptly after 9 rings got the answering service which is provided by Telstra the main phone carrier here. They then suggested that maybe the phone didn't ring out but was in use when they attempted to ring. The answering service picks up any incoming calls when the line is engaged so again they would have got the answering service and been able to leave a message. So after 2 direct lies to my face I just informed them I would place the matter in the hands of the Police and let them deal with it and that they no doubt would want to see the original check which I only saw a photocopy of as they where unable to produce the original particularly as the extra amount was added above the first line of the check amount (+ my writing) and the figures crossed the $ sign where you are supposed to write in the amount. It didn't matter that the writing was obviously different and that the person who had the check paid to them had a different name to that on the check which was clearly marked "Not Negotiable."

They did however get some what upset when I told them that I was reporting it to the Police and seemed to be saying that I didn't trust them. I even had to pay for the 3 pages of photocopies that they showed me to confirm that I had really written the check out for that amount and the account into which it was paid. Even then I only got an account number with no mention of which bank/credit union/building society it was paid into but it is no longer my trouble as the Police now have everything that the bank gave me and I'm now taking a back seat and just letting things go.

Personally I would be happy to dump all of the banks permanently and hand the staff cash each pay period but as I mostly get paid in checks I do need some form of banking facility.

In answer to you're other question No the Australian Tax Office doesn't accept chickens as payment particularly no that we have the GST {Go Slow Tax} but if I was to write a check on the side of a live chicken and deliver it to the ATO they would have to accept it or even if I was to ring them and tell them that I had put it in a bottle and thrown it in the river they would at the very least have to attempt to retrieve it from the river as if they didn't and it came to court action they would lose as they had made no attempt to recover the check. Actually one bright spark actually painted a Tax Payment on the side of a Bullock and sent it to the ATO which they refused to accept {particularly after it shit on the floor of their front office} but when it got to court they lost and had costs awarded against them for failing to accept and attempt at legal payment of the bill.

We really are a "Weird Mob" this side of the pond.


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Exchange rates

by Oldefar In reply to I love you're reply Oldef ...

While I do deal in properly prepared road kill here in the US (possum being popular in some adjacent states) I insist on a single currency. Possum requires a US pint of the county's best liquid corn, properly served in either a Mason jar or poured from an empty plastic milk carton that was delivered by Junior on a moonless night.

I look forward to hearing the final outcome of your banking adventures. If it gets much better, I will have to waive my fee and pay you.

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