OK I'm about to bitch about Compass Bank in particular and our little burg by association.
Ahhh. Compass. Granted they have free checking and also free internet banking (which is why I switched from Auburn Bank - whom I adored but who was going to charge me $8/mo for online banking and charged for checks even if you bought the standard, generic ones - nevermind that with online banking & thanks to the water co.'s finally offering online payment options I only write one check a month now), but I think we deal with Compass on increasingly tedious terms. Basically I guess they have decided that they have to get their money somehow after all.
Of course all of us modern folk are becoming enured to the loss of that little personal touch in many businesses which we experienced or saw our parents enjoying when we were little. Gone are the days where you could enter any bank and cash a personal check regardless of whether you have an account. Gone, too, are the days where you can enter a bank where you have an account and cash a check unless you actually have the funds to cover it (which, does anyone else see how backwards-logic-y that is?) NOW, at least at Compass Bank, if you deposit a check (someone else's check written to you, mind you) which bounces they will charge You (because you should have ESP and know if someone's check is going to bounce). Of course if you deposit a check which bounces and then in the meantime you write a check which is uncovered thanks to the bouncey check you deposited, I agree you are responsible. But for the mere deposit in the first place?
Anyway until now none of this has had any impact on my life except where pondering modern injustices and daily life complications is concerned. I've bounced exactly one check in my life, and that 25 years ago. Thankfully, I have not deposited any rubbery checks either, even tutoring checks. So on both counts I've been in the clear.
Almost as rare as check-bouncing in my life is neglecting to deposit checks in a timely manner; no surprise that in my stratum of the economy, one is pretty keen to access money as soon as possible. So I was pretty dang surprised the other day when we were filing to find that one of Macie's tutoring checks for me from August (!) was languishing amongst all those papers. Macie graduated in December and has left town but we're still in touch so I emailed her to warn her and ask if the account was still active, etc. She responded quite promptly as usual saying all was well and for me to go ahead.
I went to Compass Bank the next day. The shortish greying woman whom I consider to be a tad impertinent (even tho I can't remember exactly the events which shifted me to that opinion) came over and started to take care of my check cashing. All of a sudden she saw the date on the check and kind of gasped. I explained that it was from a very responsible friend whom I had just spoken to and who had confirmed that the account was active and the funds were there. I apologized at my tardiness all the same.
She made some painful noises and was shaking her head... I mentioned that due to their policy of charging Me should there be a problem that it was I who would incur any risk, "Correct?" ..."Uh, yes, but..." She continued with her slight gasping and her eyebrows hadn't re-lowered since first seeing the date, and with kind of an "I... uh... I... just a minute please" she sidled up to another woman towards the rear of the teller area. They made lots of clucking noises about their "Six Month Time Limit" on check depositing, and my teller mentioned that the check would not really violate that policy until Feb. 21st, but... Ew!!! Should they risk it?!!? (Pretty scary, a multi-gazillion-dollar company allowing the deposit of a $20 check when they've already covered their incredibly cheap asses by instilling a policy to charge me should any problem arise anyway... But better safe than sorry I guess!)
Finally Ms. Gaspy-Eyebrows came back over, altho not in time to allay my moderate fuming. "We're going to go ahead but you know it's almost been six months and we have a policy..." I interrupted her and said that I had heard but that if the policy is Six Months then it's: Six Months, not Almost Six Months and, again, "thanks to your wonderful policy about bouncing checks I'm the one who would have to pay anyway, right? Having checked with my friend I see no problem and am happy take any risk you may still see there." (Italics = Susan Sarcasm lilt of course :)
Ahh the continued joys of living (a) in this day and age of accountability caveats and (b) in a college town. I do understand that many of the things we put up with here on the Plains are due to businesses needing to figure out contingencies for Irresponsible Youngster Shenanigans. I'd implement some standard derrière-covering protocols, too, if I had a business here. I get that part. I do.
The part I don't get is the other side of all this. At work here, too, you see, is the phenomenon which I call the How Big Are Your Britches Syndrome. Like with so many things here, Auburn wants to have their friggin' cake and eat it too - they want to think themselves a small town with all the little intimate aspects of Mayberry but they also want a spot on the Map of Where It's At, dammit. This is the mentality that gets us the so-called progress of a new highway interchange and yet only makes it half as many lanes as will be in dire need in another 5-10 years, for example. (This is a distant poor cousin of the Is Our Priority Football or Education? issue but that's a whole 'nother post...)
At Compass this dichotomy translates into an establishment where they are going to charge you stupid fees when you deposit a non-you-engendered check which bounces and yet, for instance, they do not ask you for identification for depositing that same check. (I of course always pointedly get out my license and place it on the counter a split second after they should have asked for it and they give it the perfunctory glance with that amiable and slightly sheepish "oh, yeah, right" grin.)
Often when I bitch about stuff like this I get a kindof "Well of course, she used to live in Cleeeeeveland and Tuuuuuuucson so she thinks she's all Big City 'n shit" reaction (the latter not even being that big a city). Am I happier in a slightly more metropolitan setting where, sure, things can be a bit impersonal, but at least you can get a decent bagel and renew your driver's license in less than three stops?* Yes, I admit I am. But honestly I like the homey, intimate small-town mindset as long as we're consistent about it!
The fact notwithstanding that I can only sincerely say that last thanks to our finally having a Target. Nyernt nyernt.
*Disclaimer: This is actually no longer the case with the Driver's License thing but I couldn't think of another example off the top of my head.