What The Check Are You Playing At?

, , , , , | | Right | June 8, 2018

(I’m an assistant manager. We can accept out-of-town checks, but we can’t accept out-of-state ones. This has something to do with the way out-of-state checks are handled when they bounce. Basically, if a check from an out-of-state bank bounces, then it is handed over for a criminal fraud charge, as opposed to a local bank where we just hold the bounced check for several days before trying again, and if it fails then, take the person to civil court for the funds. A lady comes into the store to purchase some items, and is paying by check. Since all checks require manager approval, and I am the only one on duty at that time, I head over. When I get there, I see it’s drawn on a Florida bank.)

Me: “I’m sorry, but store policy is that we can’t accept checks from out of state. Do you have another form of payment?”

Customer: “G**d*** you, I need this for my Christmas! You’re going to accept that g**d*** check, or I’m going to call the police on you! It’s legal tender!”

Me: “Actually, ma’am, a check is just a promise to pay. However, if you write that check, and it bounces, then you would be facing criminal charges and arrest. I’d wager that would ruin your Christmas more than me not accepting it.”

Customer: “Well, [Large Retailer] takes it!”

Me: “Yes, they’re a multi-state company, and they can afford to do it, since they have locations just about everywhere. We, on the other hand, only operate in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. So, it’s the policy.”

(The woman is beside herself, and storms out the store, pausing only long enough to knock over several racks of clothing, shove one of the other clerks, and several boxes of shoes. Another customer comes up to me.)

Other Customer: “Hi, I’m an off-duty cop and saw everything. Would you like to call it in? I can speak with the lady; I can see that she’s sitting in her car.”

(I do, and he brings her back in with other officers. We head back to the office, where she’s going on and on about how a check is legal tender, until one officer tells her that it’s not true, and spells out the Georgia law that I’m trying to protect her from.)

Officer: “What do you want to do?

Me: “I want her escorted from the store, and barred from shopping here ever again.”

(He agrees, informs her of this, and escorts her out. Fast forward exactly one year. I’m the store manager now, and I notice in reviewing my checks that someone on my day off took a check from Florida that bounced. I call the young clerk into the office and explain what she did wrong. She relates how the woman had noted that she’d had problems in the store the year before, and had only came back after a previous assistant manager had quit — I hadn’t quit, just been promoted. I describe the lady from before.)

Clerk: “Yes, that’s her. And I saw her again today, looking through the jewelry department!”

(Thinking fast, I told the clerk to stall the customer, while I called the police. Once the police arrived, I handed over the check, and noted the previous incident. The officers and I headed up, only to have the lady turn around and see me. The moment our eyes met, she dropped everything and took off running for the front door. Somehow she misjudged where the door was, and instead ran face-first right into the window beside it, knocking herself out. She ended up cuffed for fraud, as well as shoplifting; she had pocketed several bits of jewelry. A couple weeks after Christmas, I got a call from my district manager about the whole thing. Not only was the lady wanted in two states for fraud, she’d bilked the company out of several thousand dollars. She’d go to various stores and pull one of two acts, either playing innocent, or using the “[Large Retailer] does it” ploy and get clerks to accept the checks. The problem was, the checks were forgeries, and the bank they called on didn’t even exist. The lady was facing some SERIOUS jail time as a result of it.)

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