Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Informative Rant About Personal Checks

I work as a receptionist at returned check collection agency.  Since I am the first contact people have with our office, I get to deal with all sorts of people that live all sorts of lives. This has given me the benefit of learning all sorts of lessons about life and checking.

1.    Know where the information on your account is located. I am including a labeled diagram.   

2.    Thanks to our government, unless you and the person you wrote a check two bank in the same location, your original check will be destroyed. It will be imaged. If the item is returned, the bank will send out a legal image. (See the above image.) Yes, this is a pain. And, problematic. But, the government knows best. (Please say you read that in a sarcastic voice.)

3.    Because of Check 21 and Truncation (you know, when you go to a business and they hand you your check back after they send the information electronically.) checks with pretty pictures and fancy fonts are a hindrance to check processing. Please make sure the fonts are large and clear with no background images.

4. When a store asks for an ID be nice. They need it for a couple of reasons. The obvious reason is to make sure that the person that is writing the check is actually the check belongs to. But, the other is to protect them. In order to file a returned check with the county or district attorney, most counties require a valid DL number.

5. “Well, if they had deposited the check when I wrote it the money would have been there.” is NOT a valid excuse for a returned check.

6.  If you have a check returned, contact the store where the check was written if you don't remember what company handles their checks. And, no, we aren't all the same company. And, a lot of stores and business’s collect their own checks.

7. Make sure that if you move you are changing the address on your check. Or that you get new ones with the right address. You never know when there will be a problem with your account. The person you wrote the check to might have to get in touch with you.

Once, I received a phone call from the police department about a robbery at a gas station right after I left. And, they needed to reach me to see if I saw anything. They got my name and number off the check. (The guys who robbed them were in the store when I left. I freaked out a little when I found out.)

8. I know that is polite to ask how someone's day has been. But, when a person calls the office, I answer, "Thank you for calling XXXXXXXX, how may I help you?" No, I don't answer with my name. I am the only person with my name in the entire country. I am far too easy to track down. (And, with some of the winners we get around here, I do not want them knowing where I am.) Half the time I get the following responses
"I'm fine how you are?"
"Where is this?"
"Who is this?"
"How are you today?"
Any one of those replies shows me that you were not even trying to listen when you called. Some companies have people that just answer the phone. But, small companies like this one can not afford the luxury. Plus, most of the time I would be bored out of my mind. When a person calls, I am entering payments, processing credit bureau disputes, processing incoming or outgoing mail, or one of the many other things I am doing during the day. So, please be polite and patient. Don't yell numbers at me or rattle off your name. Wait until you know I am ready. I don't have time for socialization on the phone. You called for a specific reason. Let's call and handle it and move on. Most likely I have other callers waiting to be helped.

9. Speak slowly and clearly. And, you have an accent whether you know it or not. I can not stand a mumbler. I may have to ask how to spell your name. There is no reason to take it personally.

10. And, for the sake of all that is holy do NOT call on speaker phone. If you are in the car, please, just wait. It is impossible to hear. Anytime you call a business that you pay money to, you have an account number. Have it when you call.

11. Some people will drain brain cells. That is all there is to it.

12. Never judge a book by its cover. But, you can usually judge it by its grammar. I know that some people do not give any weight to how to speak, what words to use or how to pronounce words. They are simply not doing themselves any favors. And, it makes my brain hurt.

13. When you call about a certain subject. Stick to the subject. Neither one of us has time to sit around and ramble.

14. When a senior citizen is speaking to you, listen. And, be kind. You may be the only person they have contact with that day. And, if you have time, stop and visit with them for a spell. You might need it as badly as they do.

15. NEVER cuss on the phone. All this does is make a bad situation worse. And, if you are speaking to anyone in our office, for example, you get one warning. If you don’t stop we will hang up. All it does it make you look ignorant and hurts your case. You get far more flies with honey. I’m not saying you should always sugar coat things. But, you should give people a chance to explain what they know before you jump down their throat.

16. Never start a conversation with “Now listen.” All that does is make me come up with creative ways to muzzle you. The couple of extra days that you might need to take care of your check, yeah, not going to happen.

17. Some things in life are not fair. When someone forges checks on your account you have to take care of it. No, you don’t have to pay them. But, you do have to file a case with the police department. Yes, you have to keep in contact with the bank to make sure you have the affidavits of forgery to get to the businesses and collection agency. I hate that you have to do it, too. I know you are tired of it. But, it has to be done. If you don’t, it will go to the county or district attorney. It will go on your credit report and you will have to spend more time cleaning it up later. And, no, the people who stole your checks and identity are most likely not going to get caught. It is really hard sometimes to catch them. And, you are probably right. The police department does not see you as a high priority. They have killers and such to catch. And, I am so truly sorry. But, remember when you call, I AM NOT TO BLAME. I am not the one that stole the checks. But, my job is to help the client. I am protecting their interests when I tell you I need paperwork. Do NOT yell at me.

18. Please, PLEASE shower. If you come into my office and you smell, the scent will linger after you leave.

19. People judge you. There is nothing you can do about it. And, not everyone will judge you for the same thing. It may be for your disposition. It may be because you bounced a check. It may be your clothes. It may be your grammar. But, remember you in charge of you and what you give people to judge. Try to be that person that you want others to be. I think this is part of the reason I don’t have a lot of a “private life.” I would rather be judged for what people know about me than what they think they know. (NOTE: There are a lot of names that I know that I come across every day. I do not think anything different about you because of it. And, anyone that does can just get over it.

20. Learn to accept a mistake. If you do something wrong. Say I did it. Then apologize. Be a man. Grow a pair. You might find it liberating. Then apologize specifically for what you did. We all make mistakes. We are human. And, remember that you do not want your mistakes pointed out to you. So, don’t go around pointing out other people’s mistakes. Otherwise, you end up being a lonely miserable person wondering why people don’t like you. “I only tell it like it is. No, that’s just being a bitch.

So maybe this is mostly just a chance for me to just rant and vent a little. But, hopefully you will take something away that you didn’t know before. Or, at least feel a little better about yourself.