The Check

When I got home on Friday evening I found an envelope in my mailbox announcing that I received a speeding ticket while driving in France. It happened on Sunday, during our long drive from Libourne to Barcelona. The fee wasn’t too crazy: 25 euros (which is about $33) and I had instructions on the back written in big bold letters on how to pay: by check or by bank transfer.

The second one seemed a bit trickier on closer inspection, since they required the notification as well, so I decided to go with the check. Therefore this morning I showed up at my local branch of Bank of America to get a check for 25 euros. The clerk there happily informed me that I need to pay $45.

Me: So this is the check value ($33) and your fee, right?
Clerk: No, this is on top of the check value.
Me: $45 to write a check???
Clerk: Yes sir, that is our fee.
Me: Why? It’s a piece of paper! I understand charging an exchange fee, but a fee for writing the check??
Clerk: Well, we have to pay a couple of administrative fees for the people involved…
Me: What people? This isn’t the 1950s, banks no longer have people that write checks by hand! Everything is done electronically!
Clerk: Not exactly sir, there are people involved…
Me: Fine.
Clerk: It will take 3 to 5 days.

I left. They were supposed to call me when it’s ready.

A couple of hours later, in the afternoon, I was checking my credit card statement. And guess what I see: a charge by the rental company for the exact amount of the fine. I take another look at the paper they sent me and this time I notice – in small print – that they listed my credit card number on it. Why would they ask for check or bank transfer in big bold letters is beyond me.

So I run back to the bank. Luckily, I run into the same clerk:

Me: Hi, remember me, I ordered a 25 euro check before…
Clerk: Yes, what is it?
Me: I would like to cancel it.
Clerk: I’m sorry, it’s too late.
Me: Too late? I just ordered it a couple of hours ago. You said it will take 3 to 5 days to get ready. I’m sure it’s not yet written…
Clerk: No sir, we can’t cancel now because everything is done electronically.
Me: (stare of are-you-fucking-kidding-me)
Me: So what do I do now? They already charged my card, I no longer need the check.
Clerk: You can deposit back the check in your account. When it arrives.
Me: ….. Thank you. You’ve been very helpful.


(the following week)

Got a notification in the mail about my check. I show up at the bank, ask to speak to the same guy and I show it to him. He looks at it and goes:

Clerk: Hmmm… so it went through.
Me: What?
Clerk: It was delivered.
Me: Wasn’t it supposed to come here, so I can pick it up and deposit it?
Clerk: (mumbles)
Me: ?
Clerk: It will arrive sometime next week. I will call you and we’ll deposit it back to your account.
Me: (sigh) Thank you.


  1. adder says:

    The people who write checks will be grateful (in 3-5 days). And their children. And their children’s children Grin

  2. Bogdan says:

    I smell bank shit!

  3. Roxy says:

    Gotto love these people. Have a similar story with medical bills. My cheque will be returned in 30 to 60 days Smile

  4. s says:

    GENIAL. Absolut G_E_N_I_A_L!