Monday, September 11, 2006

Check yourself

The second screamer on Sunday was right before I left.

About two months ago, the managers got all the cashiers in a room and told them that from then on, they were going to be responsible for bad checks, or at least as much as they could be. They handled the checks every day. They should know if the paper felt funny, or if the security features weren't on the check. So we've cut down on our bad checks lately. What we haven't cut down on is the people who try to write bad checks.

Some of the girls will give the checks a REAL good going over. Register 14 is right in front of the Service Desk, so I watched this whole thing play out. The girl looked at the check, then told the woman she had to check with someone. Then they called the manager. Then the fireworks started.

I think the total bill was about $250 in groceries and merchandise. The buggy was full and there was a couple of cases of soda under it. And some woman wanted to write a "business" check for this stuff.

The manager told her that he couldn't take the check. She blew up. "It's a perfectly good check. We've got two businesses and thousands of dollars in the account."

"Ma'am, the check does not have the security features in the correct places."

She snaps back. "It's a business check." "Ma'am, even business checks have the same security features."

She starts screaming. And I do mean screaming. Everything sort of stopped while people watched this little drama played out. "I will NOT be treated like a second class citizen. I am well-known in this town. We own businesses and know people. I want your name. I want her name. I want the name of your manager. I want the name of your district manager. I'm going to call corporate. I don't have to take this. You're treating me like a second class citizen because you're ignorant of how business is done."

The manager has her give him the check. He tries to call the bank. Of course, it is closed on a Sunday. She's still yelling her head off about "I'm going to take this to the next level. You say you're doing your job. Well, I'm going to do my job. You might not have a job tomorrow."

And he caves. He runs it through and signs the check to keep the cashier from taking the heat. I asked to see the check. It just looked funny to me. I would not have taken the check, no matter how much fuss she made. I figure we lost that money.

Look at your checks. The little lock is near the bottom right. And the pattern is on the back. And other stuff. This check had that - it just looked - sort of "off" - like someone was trying too hard to forge a business check. I've run a register for two years now and I've NEVER had a business check come through that looked so different than a regular check.

And another thing. If you, as you so allege, "own businesses in this town" - do you just take any old check that comes across your door? I didn't think so.


Anonymous said...

Tell me what the big deal is for having a person's BIRTHDATE, month day and year of birth as opposed to using the expiration date on your driver's s license??? I refuse to give my birthdate as that makes it much easier for ID theft. Whereas the expiration date of driver's license is less likely. Or in my opinion it is. I am not even sure if it is legal to write the BIRTHDATE on the check. Thank you

L said...

I worked in retail banking for 10 years - as a teller, cust. serv, and a branch mgr.
The birthdate is on there so we can know if the person on the id is actually that age - a lot of stolen id info is often incorrect. This also helps the loss prev. dept at the bank if the check is indeed counterfiet. A month and year will do fine - no need for the actual day. The expiration is for knowing if the id is still valid - if it's not valid - no dice - for the check. (cashing or otherwise - at least at my bank)
Bad checks are hard to spot b/c there are so many people that print their own these days. Feel the bottom of the check - the numbers on the bottom (MICR coding) should be raised. If it's flat the check has usually been printed off a regular pc not a from a check company. (that doesn't mean the check isn't good b/c some companies do print their own but it's suspicious.)
WalMart should ask the bank they use to have the bank's loss prevention dept come and do a seminar for cash handling employees about how to spot counterfiet money and checks as well as cashing procedures. Promise it would help!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully other walmarts will do this but here in missouri, we run them through electronically and they are debited from the account as such, the customer signs a slip of paper and gets the check and receipt back. Nice neat and safer

Jackie said...

Thanks for the blog. I am a cashier at a WalMart in Georgia who has just recently started training at the customer service desk. I worked two months as a temp during Christmas--laidoff, then called back in May. I have other retail experience inwhich as a cashier I also had to do the returns and the layaways. (Penny's, Sears) No money orders or moneygrams or payroll check experience. I got the mo down but am still a little fuzzy with the moneygrams. The information you give in the blog is invaluable.
We are down to three customer service workers; I think there is normally 7. I learn quickly, but I haven't gotten much training and have already had to work it by myself while the regular clerk took a lunch break. Last night the big one was $250 return gifts from a baby shower!
I was surfing the internet trying to find some info that would help me learn and I did, your blog. I am still reading it. I am especially interested in learning everything I can about the money grams and will be glad when I am more comfortable cashing the payroll checks.
Thanks again...

Lindsay said...

L is my cousin, heehee... she is so darn smart :)

I worked at a bank also, as a Teller.. and man would we see some fake ones! I mean some poeple are so dumb as to print them off on normal printer paper.... Even a 5 year old could tell those were NOT real!

Anonymous said...

To clear a couple of points. WM cannot make anyone be responsible for the money amount lost on a bad check. Don't fall for this. Have never felt the bank coding at the bottom of a check being raised!. In some states a check is taken and given back to cust after it is ran thru. All this does is say that that cust does not have a bad check on file with WM. It does not insure the check is ultimately good. This is being improves. I don't think any WM shows a dishonored check to any of its associates. It goes to the Prosecuting Atty's office. WM gets a lot of bad checks, I believe they are processed some place in Va or Ga. WM figures the volume in sales is worth it.

sam's girl said...

Shortly after starting at WM I took a hundred dollar bill which "just didn't seem right" but the pen said it was real. Luckily I didn't get in trouble but did get a lecture from our loss prevention guy about what to look for and told, for the first time, that the pens were not fool proof - they only say that the right paper and type of ink was used. In my case the bill (probably originally a twenty) had been bleached and dried then reprinted so the pen said it was okay. After that, I started looking closer at the watermark to see if it matched - now many people who aren't white and old give me a dirty look or straight out asks if I don't trust them just because they are spanish/african american/young/have taooes/etc.