Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Woo-hoo, Dwana got a 4.0!

listening to: 'Ironic' by Alannis Morisette
feeling: Warm and fuzzy

...and only one more semester/2 classes to go. She's worked very hard for her Master's in Social Work through ongoing illness, family tragedy, marriage, etc. I'm so glad she's that much closer to her goal, and with all she's gone through lately, a perfect grade is icing on the cake. So a big congratulations goes out to her!

I also have Dwana to thank for another job opportunity. Turns out when I was talking about the part-time job, she had seen a full-time one open. Since they're both in reference, she thought we were talking about the same job. When I mentioned where the first one was she went back and checked the ad and realised that there was another opportunity and let me know. It's full-time, pays 33K, and has the interesting (and perfect for me schedule) of 12:30-9:00pm. I am so not a morning person. I've finished tweaking my résumé...now to finish the cover letters and those applications will be in the mail. Yay! Keep your fingers crossed for me. The great thing is that both are within my area of expertise, with my experience and education on my side. First the car, now this. For someone whose luck has sucked big time for years, it seems to be raining gold--knock on wood. I'm almost afraid I'm dreaming. Do I dare believe I could actually get a job that would allow me to make a living doing something I love???

Speaking of luck, I got a holiday present from Uncle Sam in the form of a $71 cheque for overpayment on my student loans. Yipee. Of course, I'm going to sock it straight to rent, but still....

And speaking of cheques, I can happily report that the expensive and hard lessons I learnt from my bordeline bouncing that went on for a couple of years has finally had a positive outcome...I am apparently an expert in how the bouncing thing works. I was able to help an acquaintance through a major anxiety resulting from a cashed cheque for someone that apparently had insufficient funds, so the bank took the money from the person's own account, causing multitudes of overdrafts pinging about. Suddenly there was a huge amount in fees, but a least the bank paid almost all the cheques. I was able to explain that there is a process where most...not all, but most, depending on the creditor's policy and that of their bank...attempts to draw upon funds go through twice before being returned completely to the business so that it can seek payment/fees either itself, a credit agency, or the county attorney. So the business' bank would likely represent the cheque which would then go through since there would now be money into the account. So from the creditor's point of view, it wasn't a cold cheque. Even if the thing goes thud like a load of iron, usually a business or its agency will attempt to collect the money before sending it to the legal authority. I explained some of the variations with those agencies that collect the money and stop your ability to write drafts to participating retailers, and the steps going up to court, showing that this was a loooonnnggg way from that.

When you first bounce a cheque--especially if it's no fault of your own--it brings up a certain amount of 'ohmygod, what am I going to do'? I can remember my grandparents, who had never had any trouble, suddenly finding themselves knee-deep in overdrafts because the bank, which had recently acquired theirs and had changed their account number to fit its scheme, somehow didn't move the money to the new account. Fortunately they were able to recover fees. The first time I bounced one, I bounced five...instead of paying the drafts as they came in, the bank took five as a whole and then I overdrafted by 20 cents. One of the cheques was for $2. Four of them would have gone through, but instead the bank charged me for five and then did the same thing when they reposted, allowing it to happen even a third time (which they admitted shouldn't have even come up). This happened over a holiday, so I didn't get word for several days. That bank eventually gave me a refund on many of the fees, although I eventually took my business elsewhere.

This bank didn't seem that cooperative, and from their point of view, of course, it made sense to rip the money out of the account they had access to. Most people don't realise that's why a bank often won't cash a cheque if you don't have the funds to cover it or won't cash a cheque if you don't have an account with the bank. That's why it's sometimes better to just go to a grocery or other place. Still, it sucks that they didn't bother to tell the person what they were doing. At least the person who accidentally set the whole thing into motion can and will pay the fees.

Still, I've known a lot of people (and I used to be one of them) who feel guilty, like it's somehow our fault when things go wrong. I've slowly learnt that I mess up plenty enough not to take on additional guilt for things over which I have no control whatsoever, and that even when I'm responsible, I am not a 'bad' person because I did something stupid/made a mistake. But that took me years to get, and only with my best friend beating it over my head and a lot of professional counselling, too. Anyway, I helped that person's day a little. Since finances are my main stressor/thing to drive me just over the edge when the least thing goes wrong (and nearly suicidal when the big ones do), I understand. Nice to know my expensive and stupidity-induced education was worth something. :)

My advice when dealing with banks: always read the fine print. And if possible, talk to them in person. It is so much easier to put off someone on the phone. An angry/distraught/crying client in the lobby is bad for business. If you're going to breakdown anyway, might as well do it there. If you can be quietly convincing and keep your cool, though, doing it in person works better, too.

No comments: