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Last Friday I was pretty wound up about this. Now I find it a sad state of affairs in the US banking system.

I started working for SAIC on the 17th so that I would be in the pay cycle and could get a check in the bank by the 28th. Sadly, the pay days fell a week after. That’s life. So, to start with, everything I was shuffling had to be shuffled an extra week until Friday the 5th. It’s been a stretch and I had promised my friends Paul and Marnie that I would pay them back for the plane tickets and truck money by the 28th. I also found a house and needed a cashiers check by Saturday the 6th or I would lose the house I had finally found. Roberta and the girls were living in Montana and couldn’t come down here until I had money in the bank to pay the way.

That was the status on Thursday, the day before payday. On Thursday afternoon I recieve two envelopes from SAIC. My up front money and my first paycheck, both paper checks.  Paper checks, in this day and age? Oh crap. I bank (probably past tense soon) at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union from when we were in Fairbanks. It was a good bank and I can make deposits and the like through most other credit unions when I need to.

So, there’s the setup on Friday morning when the rest of this saga happens. Two paper checks, out of state bank, and obligations looming.

Providence Credit Union: I start by going to Providence Federal Credit Union in Monterey and speak to the lady about depositing my checks. She tells me that they are probably going to put a 10 day hold on both checks or until funds are verified, which can take 3-10 days. Crud.

Alaska USA FedCredUnion: I drive back to work and I call Alaska Fed and sure enough, 10 day hold on both checks if I deposit. Told her they were payroll checks. Didn’t matter because of the amounts and that I was depositing from a sister branch out of state.

Citibank: The checks are from Citibank. Well there is one of those in Carmel, so I drive down to Carmel. I speak to the lady behind THAT counter and she tells me, sure they are on Citibank, but it’s Citibank of Deleware and that’s a DIFFERENT bank and she can’t cash them. She does point out that the checks say in fine print that they can be cashed at USBank.

USBank: Okay, the closest USBank is over in Salinas. So, I hop in the car and drive down to Salinas and hit the USBank there. I wait a few minutes for the bank to open the speak to the lady behind the counter there. She looks at the check, plays with the computer a bit, then tells me that the checks don’t have the correct account numbers. She looks a bit more and realizes in fine fine print that the checks can be cashed ONLY at the USBank in La Jolla California. That’s only about 400 miles south of me. Oh, and also at some Citibank in Florida.

Wells Fargo: I get back to the office and I’m on and off the phone with AKUSA trying to figure out what to do when a co worker tells me he has enough to cover one of the checks and would be willing to help out. At this point I’m starting to shake from the stress of making this work. So we go to Wells Fargo and put the bigger check into his account and I get two cashiers checks. One for the house and the rest to deposit in AKUSA. Whew! Thank you. FYI. Wells Fargo put a 24 hour hold on the check, that was it. None of this 10 day crap.

Providence Federal Credit Union: I go back to Providence and they deposit the payroll check and the cashiers check into my account and fax copies of the checks up to AKUSA so that I can get the funds released on the cashiers check so I can pay Paul and Marnie at least enough to cover the truck payment and pay back some of the cash they let me borrow. I’ll pay back the plane tickets as soon as the hold is over on the payroll check.

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union: I call AKUSA and tell them they should have copies of the checks on their fax machine and would they please verify and release the funds. The lady looks and then tells me she will release the funds on the payroll check (which I was told earlier they wouldn’t do) and put a 10 day hold on the CASHIERS check! What the hell?? They have to verify funds on the Cashiers check, on a Cashiers check?? At least they cashed the one check so I could pay some money back and give Roberta and the girls enough money to start driving down here. Without which we would have been totally screwed. Both the cashiers check and my paycheck were about the same amount roughly.

Final outcome. It’s Tuesday and I still don’t have access to the funds on the Cashiers check. Paul and Marnie have a partial payment, house has been signed for, and the girls are headed this way. So, at least I accomplished what need to be accomplished. At least enough that I can move forward.

Total time was roughly 6 hours minus an hour for lunch, and 5 trips to 4 different towns and a bunch of phone calls to multiple states. All because I have an out of state bank and SAIC decided to give me paper checks. Welcome to banking in the 21st century.

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December 2008
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