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Money Disorder

, , , | Right | April 17, 2021

A lady I’ve served maybe once or twice arrives with some checks to deposit. They are all a little old but still within six months — except one. This is a money order for all of $20, dated from seven years ago. This particular brand of money order should be negotiated within a year of it being cut or monthly fees start racking up. This piece of paper is going to be swallowed by its own fees at best and rejected as a stale item at worst.

Me: “Uh, this is a little bit old, isn’t it?”

Customer: “Yeah, but it’s a money order, so it’ll be fine.”

No, it won’t, and I know it.

Me: “Let me see what we can do here.”

I rope my manager in, not because I expect her instincts to be any different to mine but more to make it look like I’m at least trying to do something. [Manager] looks at the date.

Manager: “Oh, wow, we really shouldn’t take this.”

Customer: “No, it’s a money order. It was paid for in full back when it was bought so it’s guaranteed.”

This goes on for maybe a minute; [Manager] first wants to refuse the money order and then deposit it on a seven-day hold, but the customer will have none of it. Bear in mind, if it gets rejected — which we both expect — that’s a $30 fee that the customer is going to have to pay.

Manager: “There’s a number to verify on there, right? Call that, and if it says the check is still good, then I guess we can deposit it.” 

I call the number and verify that the check hasn’t been cashed and it hasn’t had a stop put on it by the original purchaser. This is as good as we can do, so we go ahead and deposit it.

Me: “All done, but please bear in mind that this still could very well bounce because of how old it is.” 

Customer: “Yeah, sure.”

She left. I made sure to put an extensive note in her account explaining what had happened. A few days later, we got an email from our call centre; the customer was unhappy about a returned item fee that had put her account negative. Lo and behold, the money order had been rejected as a stale item. I made a point of not being the one to call her back because I had very little confidence in my ability to avoid saying, “I told you so,” in a less than polite way, though I did make sure the note I put in the account at the time got added to the email chain. I cannot fathom why she thought she knew better than me, a teller, how money orders work.

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