Friday, April 13, 2012

Forget Depression.... Telecheck SUCKS!

Thanks to everyone for your kind words on my "Depression sucks" post. Nothing quite like anger and frustration to get me past depression, though, and onto the next phase.

So today I made copies for two clients at Office Max. I wanted to write a check to pay for the copies, using my business checking account.

The check was declined.

Confused, I called my bank. The bank verified the amount of funds in my account, which exactly matched the amount I had written in my checkbook register, and far exceeded the amount of the check I was writing to Office Max (a pretty measly $156, actually).

So, Office Max ran the check again.

Declined again.

Office Max uses a company called "Telecheck" to determine whether they should accept a particular check. Apparently, if Telecheck allows them to accept a check, Telecheck will guarantee payment of it.

So they called Telecheck, who said, essentially, "try it again." So, they ran it two more times, still declined.

Telecheck would not give Office Max any reason why it was declined, so Office Max gave me the number to call.

After a lengthy menu tree and entering all sorts of data, I was finally connected with a live person, who told me the check was declined because that check number had been "used too many times."

"Well, that's because Office Max ran it through the system 4 times," I said -- "and two of those times were after you advised them to 'try again.'"

"Oh," she replied, "and also because you don't have a history of using any checks on that account through a Telecheck merchant."

"Um... let me get this straight.... you're not going to let Office Max accept my check because you've never accepted a check from me before? Do you ever accept checks from anyone?!? How does anyone get that first check accepted?"

"Well, you have to write smaller checks at Telecheck merchants first, and build up a credit history with us."

(WTF?!?!? I thought) "Let me speak with a manager, please."

I explained that I have had this particular business checking account for over a year, and have never bounced a check. I never bounced a check on my account at my prior bank, either.

Plus, it's a BUSINESS account! And my law license can be jeopardized if I bounce checks! Heck, at the Post Office (I LOVE the Post Office) they never even ask for ID with my checks because they reasonably assume that most lawyers won't bounce their checks!

And I'm trying to run a business, here. The amount of goods or services I purchase isn't dictated by some whim, but by what items my business needs to run and/or the number of copies I NEED to make for my clients. In other words, I'm not "pleasure shopping" for fun, I'm writing checks for necessary amounts.

The Telecheck manager informed me there was no way to override it. They can't call my bank and verify the funds and recommend that Office Max accept the check. They can't look at my history with other accounts or other businesses and recommend that Office Max accept the check. They can't use common sense and figure out that a law office might need to write reasonably large checks (This one was actually only $156) rather than a bunch of little checks, and that a law office is pretty unlikely to bounce a check, and recommend that Office Max accept the check. No... if I want to write checks at Office Max, I have to waste my time trying to write a series of checks for smaller amounts, and then Telecheck will think about whether they should accept any of those checks.

So, Telecheck may be nice for the merchant, but is a nightmare for the average person or business owner.

So I called Office Max and asked if there is any way they can simply accept the check and take it straight to their bank and deposit it -- skip Telecheck, in effect. Answer: no. It's corporate policy and they have armored trucks that pick up their checks and deposit them. There is nothing they can do.

So I will have to make a trip to the bank to take out cash, and take the cash to Office Max to pay for the copies. That's an hour out of my day on Monday that I really don't have time for.

And then, after telling me there was nothing she could do to help me, the Office Max manager had the gall to ask me for free advice on her divorce!! I wanted to tell her I'd help her exactly as much as she helped me, but instead I referred her to a useful website.

I am now annoyed with both Telecheck and Office Max. If Office Max won't accept my check and simply take it to their bank (skip Telecheck for God's sake!!), even after they personally spoke with my banker who verified the funds in the account, then I will simply have to go to Staples for my business copies and supplies from now on.

Like the Post Office, Staples accepts my checks with no questions asked.

Yay for Staples!


Silliyak said...

I try to pay cash (or checks) ONLY at local stores, everyone else gets a credit card.

Scope said...


I work IT for Meg-O-Law, and my brain is screaming: 'Cost recovery'! She's gonna bill that $156 dollars right back out, and that makes it more infuriating.

Green said...

Such bullshit. So glad you have another option besides Office Max.

Stephen Hayes said...

Your tale of woe reminds me of why I work alone and only pay cash for things. But what happened to you was outrageous.

LegalMist said...

Scope -- actually, being a "too ethical" lawyer means I don't get to (or at least, I won't stoop to) bill that time back out. It is an hour out of my day on Friday dealing with this nonsense, and another hour on Monday to finish dealing with it, all non-billable time.

So I won't shop at Office Max again, for as long as there are other options (Alphagraphics is close for copies, Staples for office supplies and/or copies). Why should OfficeMax profit while costing me a ton of time / money?

Raine said...

Pretty much the same thing happened to me. The bank had screwed up and canceled my debit card so i was paying for everything with check. the supermarket would not accept my check because telecheck said i didnt have a history with them. those bastards.

Nan said...

Just how small do the first few checks have to be for Telecheck to accept them? $156 at an Office Max is not an unreasonable amount -- a few reams of paper, a color toner cartridge or two, and you're easily looking at a $200 purchase.

I guess I always assumed that Telecheck did some magic electronic thing that simply treated the paper check as an immediate debit and if the money was in the account, that was that. Live and learn.

LegalMist said...

Nan -- I don't know. I asked that exact question, but they wouldn't answer it.

So I would have to go shop at Office Max and "guess" about what amount of a check they might accept. And if my purchases have been rung up and I've written a check and it's declined, then what? Put some back and write a new check and try again? And if that's declined, put more things back and try again? How many checks do they want me to waste? (Those cost me money, too, y'know, in addition to the incredible waste of time!) It's insane. So I just won't shop there any more.

Bella said...

hey girl, tell Telechek to kiss your a$$ and Office Maxx too, and while you're at it inform Office Max that you will not be referring any business associates or partners to their establishment EVER and they can take that to the Telechek Bank! yep, bite 'em!

So. Cal. Gal said...

If a company tries to screw me over, I will not use them again. Norwegian cruise lines lost a crapload of future business because the 29 other people in my party will never use them again either. And they tell everyone they can what happened to me (a disabled person who was lied to about the ship's accessibility). After complaining multiple times, they gave me a $200 voucher towards a future trip. Yeah, not gonna happen.