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Why I Hate the Big Banks – Rant Warning – A Writer Trying to Get Paid

writers getting paidFor years and years I had a checking account at Wells Fargo that cost me something like $10 a month. A new bank opened, Washington Mutual, and offered free checking. I signed up and after I was sure it all worked I closed my Wells Fargo account – they practically begged me to stay, offering free checking for a year, but confirming I’d be charged per month after that. I bailed.

With the banking crisis Washington Mutual morphed into JP Morgan Chase so I switched to a Feminist Credit Union. That closed and I moved upstairs to a regular credit union. Frankly I think everyone ought to switch to a credit union.

Flash forward to, oh, last week and this – with a focus on yesterday and today.

Last Monday or Tuesday a client sent me a check, drawn on a U.S. Bank (Wells Fargo it turns out) but from his summer home in Canada.

Yesterday I let him know it hadn’t arrived and sent wire transfer information. I also told him I’ve occasionally lost email at this address, the only place it’s ever happened to me.

He decided to let Wells Fargo “email me” the money.

Maybe 40 minutes after he called to tell me to be on the lookout,  notice finally hit my email box. That missive said that since I’m not a Wells Fargo account holder I had to join an intermediary that will be responsible only for sending notices back and forth. Now there’s a nice job. The application for the intermediary was fairly extensive, and it would not let me enter anything but my middle initial. My bank account is in my full name, Katherine Anne Wayman. After I confirmed my joining via email, they told me the transfer would take three days.

Turns out Chris (client) sent the money to Anne Wayman which isn’t good enough, even though that works on checks. Chris spent time on the phone to Wells and they tell him I must call a customer service number – which, when I call, won’t let me in without an Wells Fargo account number. You can imagine my thoughts about their total lack of customer service.

I sent Chris my full name, the fact that the intermediary won’t let me put in my full middle name, the wire transfer info again and my Paypal email.

He called Wells Fargo again and in theory gave them my whole name. He then told me to expect another notice from Wells that the money had been sent.

He says the money is out of his account, but second notice of the transfer with the right name hasn’t arrived here yet.

As near as I can tell from here, they have his money and so far have had a full 24 hours to earn interest. Neither of us knows if it will be sent or returned to his account. Meanwhile I know they’re earning interest – a tiny amount in my case, but multiplied by who knows how many millions when you consider how many times a day this sort of thing happens.

Of course, the check did arrive today.

The client decided to just let things play out. I’m to deposit the check, and if the emailed payment shows up, consider it next month’s payment. If it doesn’t he’ll send another check and we’ll both be more patient.

Have you ever had trouble collecting money the client was trying to send you? How did it finally get resolved?

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Irma

    I’ve always used a credit union. I hate banks. With a passion.
    And only a little bit less than ATMs that charge you to take your own money out!

  • Easy solution to this — have the client write “Funds in US Dollars” on the check. I had a client in Toronto who would write that. Those four words meant everything to getting that thing cashed. Only twice in two years did the bank fail to clear the check. Each time it was cleared up quickly.
    Lori recently posted..A Writerly TGIFMy Profile

    • Lori, when I tried that with the check from the netherlands it flat wouldn’t work at Chase – which is where I was then. That’s how I discovered Western Union – actually was that client’s suggestion.

      In this case the bank is in the US, but client for the summer is in Canada. I have no problem with his checks which are drawn on Wells.

  • John Carpenter

    A further complication of this saga, is that banks hate credit unions. Banks see credit unions as encroaching on their turf. So by policy, most banks will make it as difficult as possible to deal with a credit union.

    I agree, PayPal works just fine.

    • Yes, except for the time it takes to get it into a bank account… Paypal’s debt card can solve that to some degree.

  • Ugh! What a nightmare.

    I was with a credit union, and I was informed that they hold checks, money orders, and cashiers checks for three days. I closed the account and opened up a “free” checking account with a bank. Alas, the “free checking” goes away starting in 2014, if you don’t meet the bank’s requirements. If you meet the minimum requirements, you won’t be charged for checking. However, I think “free checking” will be a thing of the past, if it hasn’t already been completely phased out.
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    • I’m sure the three day hold will continue just as long as we let the big banks rule and continue to deregulate them under some notion that that will stimulate the economy or raise campaign money or something. IMO it’s theft pure and simple.

  • Chris

    It always hurts when a fellow Chris has an issue…

    But I HATE dealing with Amazon Payments. They have several different account types, they hold your money for at least a week, and while they’re responsive (a customer service rep will call you within seconds if you want, and they have your info) they’re not all that helpful.

    Lately even working with Odesk has been annoying (because they’re working with Chase). My official first name is Christopher, and my middle name starts with an M. But I have to put both into the first name column to be acknowledged.

    And people wonder why I want to retire…

  • The only issue I’ve had is with Paypal and one particular client. He periodically travels outside of his home country, and sometimes makes payments on the road. Whenever that happens they seem to put the funds on hold, usually for several days, until they can reach both parties.

    The last time it happened, I believe he had holds put on payments to more than ten different contractors. You would think that him calling and letting them know the situation once would be enough. Apparently not. They expected him to call for each case. That was crazy, especially given that he travels frequently enough that it shouldn’t have seemed like anything out of the ordinary.

    I get the need for security when things look fishy. But if two people have an invoice-payment relationship for years between their accounts, then I don’t think an automatic flag should go up just because one of the account holders is using a different IP address once in awhile.

    It wasn’t like I needed the payment desperately or anything. But given that my policy is payment in full before I start work, it can be a problem. In this case I just started on the project as I’ve worked with the guy for years, and it all sorted out in less than a week. I just don’t like taking time out of my day to clean up their “non-messes.”

    And don’t even get me started on banks. I’m with PNC (on hubby’s recommendation), and so far they’ve screwed up every time I’ve gone into the branch. Their system can’t even handle putting my legal name on the account properly because it can’t handle two last names unless you hyphenate them, which I don’t. Their own teller told me Wells Fargo can handle it, so I occasionally think about switching. They have our mortgage and have been very good to us so far (although I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such drama getting a payment through them!).

    • Philosophically I’m against the big banks… politically I’m against them too.

      I just found out with a phone call that if I deposit a check through the atm, a hold is put on part of the money – if I deposit in their night account the money shows up about 10 am… I asked why and with the atm they want to verify that a check was actually deposited. Which makes some sense I guess… although with the pix they now take I wonder it that’s necessary…

      Your client must tear his hair out… and it’s so frustrating when we know the banks and the governments move money instantly.

      Not being able to handle a full middle initial, is in my case, or two last names w/o a hyphen is simply sloppy programming; pnc could fix it if they wanted.But you know that… apparently they don’t care enough to do it.

  • What a hassle!

    I haven’t specifically had problems with banks, but I did have one client who took a year to pay me, not because he didn’t intend to, but because he was some combination of forgetful and inefficient in shepherding the process through his large company.
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    • Talk about a hassle… clients are an amazing group of folks… and you know what the ubiquitous they say about good intentions… the road there that is.

  • I dealt with banks many years ago. No more! I use a credit union now and have for the last 20 years but even those have problems such as Canadian money orders and bank transfers. I use PayPal for funds from clients and I have
    been satisfied with that to date. I deal with a number of attorneys across the US in my business and we collect
    up front from new accounts. PayPal has served us well there. I recently had to open a bank account because of another business dealing but I have been able to make transfers between the credit union and the bank so far. We will see how that goes over the next many months. I just DON’T like banks!!!

    • Lee, I’m with you. I don’t like banks either. Paypal also works for me pretty well too.

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