Oh hi. I'm tired. I feel like I spent all day yesterday on the phone with Wachovia. I didn't, really--I actually managed to do work, too--but the emotional toll of dealing with a bank who can mess with your finances without, apparently, leaving a paper trail explaining their actions? It's pretty high. And I don't really feel like coping.
The short version is, I deposited a check last Friday. I checked our bank balance online every day and watched it process until they released the funds and the full amount of the check was included in the available balance, which happened on Tuesday. Then I mailed checks to pay several bills. Yesterday I logged into our bank account only to see that the balance had been "adjusted" to remove the exact amount of the check.
I called Wachovia. They transferred me to their disputes and claims department. Disputes and claims could tell me nothing. They were able to look at the image of the check and see that it was properly made out, signed, endorsed, etc. They could see no reason why the check had been rejected. There was a note along with the rejection, but apparently it was written in gibberish because it meant nothing to everyone who looked at it. The ATM department also knew nothing about the situation. All I could do was file a dispute and wait 5-7 business days for it to be resolved. Which is great, given that I mailed these checks yesterday. How should I pay my mortgage, I asked. And was advised to "make other arrangements." Oh, sure. I'll just send my mortgage company a whole bunch of invisible cash to make up for the check that's about to bounce. No problem. Thanks!
I called the main Wachovia line. The woman I spoke to put me on hold for 20 minutes while she tried to figure it out. Then she told me it was more complicated than she'd realized and she'd have to call me back. Three hours later, she called me back. She'd spent the last three hours looking into the situation, contacting every department that could possibly be involved in the issue, working with her supervisor. And she had learned... nothing. Nobody knew who had rejected the check, or even what department they were in. Nobody knew why the check had been rejected. Nobody knew what the note associated with the rejection meant. There was nothing she could do for me except suggest that I wait five to seven days for the dispute to be resolved and see what happens then.
I called the branch of Wells Fargo where I deposited the check. (Wachovia has already switched over to Wells Fargo in Colorado, but not in DC, where the account was opened, so our account is still technically Wachovia but we do our banking at Wells Fargo.) I thought maybe the note associated with the rejection was from Wells Fargo, and the Wachovia people weren't familiar with the terminology used. I know from experience that the two banks' ability to access each other's systems is severely limited. The guy from Wells Fargo was very nice, but could tell me nothing. He didn't know what the note meant either, and it wasn't anyone at his branch who rejected the check. He's still trying to look into the issue for me, but I am not hopeful that there is anything he can do to find out what happened.
I called the issuer of the check. They are happy to issue another check. However, since the original check is still in limbo, the new check can't be issued until the problem with the current one is resolved. Since it's possible that the dispute I filed will be resolved in my favor, i.e. the funds will be credited back to our account and the check will clear, the risk with issuing a new check is that they both will end up getting cashed. So we are going to hold off on issuing a new check until the dispute is resolved.
I understand that Wachovia didn't actually take anyone's money. The check didn't get cashed so nobody is out for the amount it was written for. Apparently banks have the right to refuse to cash checks if they wish, since they are partially liable for bad checks. That's fine; I get that. But is it really possible that one random person within the enormous Wachovia corporation has the ability to reverse payment on a check that has already been credited to an account, without any sort of paper trail?
How is it possible that four different people spent many hours yesterday looking into this, and weren't able to find out so much as what department was responsible for rejecting the check? Shouldn't anyone who makes any sort of adjustment on somebody's bank account have to enter their employee ID into a computer system to make it traceable, at the very least? Not to mention possibly adding some kind of drop-down menu of standardized reasons they could select for doing so, in order to avoid the situation where they type gibberish into the notes box that nobody else at the entire company is able to interpret? I mean, the way the system is set up (not that I actually think this is what happened, just that it seems like a potential liability), somebody could be in a bad mood and just arbitrarily decide that they felt like messing with someone else's finances, and there would be zero accountability for their decision to do this. Nobody would be able to find out who did it or why. That's a lot of power for a bunch of random bank employees.
I'm thinking it might be time to switch to a local bank. The small kind, with a finite number of employees, so that if something like this happened, at least somebody would be able to claim personal accountability.
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