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JanJojo
Star Contributor

West Virginia
USA
42759 Posts

Posted - 09/22/2007 :  9:05:00 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
This morning I decided to write a check at Walmart. I wrote the check out for the amount of my purchase and an additional 20 dollars,because I needed some cash for a special event that I was planning to attend today. The cashier puts the check in the gizmo and informs me that my check has been declined. I asked her why? She said that I would need to contact my bank. I then asked her to please let me try to use my check card which is on the same account to make my purchase. I always press the button that says credit,because my bank told me that it is much safer. I know that in order to be able to receive cash from the card that I would have to press debit. I pressed credit like I always do. The check card went through with no problem at all. For me this was a very embarrassing situation. The people standing in line behind me are good friends with my parents. I am sure that they were thinking that I was trying to write a bad check. That checking account has plenty of money in it. The cashier handed me 2 small slips of paper. One was to inform me that no money had been taken from my account. The other slip said that my check had been declined and that if I had any questions I should call the 800 number.

I left the store feeling publicly disgraced. I decided to go and write a check at a Kroger store located a few miles away.I wrote the check for the amount of the purchase plus for an additional 25 dollars. The check went right through with no problems. This check was written on the same account that had been previously declined at Walmart earlier in the day.

I went to a phone and called the 800 number. It took a while, but I finally got through to a live customer service rep. The place I was dealing with is called Telecheck. I gave the rep. the information she requested of me. She informed me that for the next 3 days that my checks would be restricted from a whole slew of stores. Some of the stores that she mentioned were Walmart,Sam's Club and CVS. She said that my check card would be accepted during this time period at
these locations,but that I should not write any checks at these locations for 3 days. Then she said something about things needing to be updated,and that all of the processing would be done in 3 days.

I would like to know what is going on? I very seldom write checks at Walmart,because it is so much easier to use my check card. Do you have to write a paper check every so often for them to remain valid at Walmart? I have never read anywhere that this is necessary.

I will be doing a demo tomorrow in the Walmart where my check was declined. I don't know whether to ask the local Walmart management about this situation or contact the head honchos in Arkansas. I would appreciate your honest opinions. TIA


Janette Johnson

Sandra Wright
Star Contributor

Arlington, VA
USA
2086 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2007 :  04:29:23 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Jan it must be a quirky thing in Walmart. My intended and I went to do a little shopping In Sam's club. I had just about the same experience as you did. Also in CT last week I was declined at one ATM and went across the street and got the cash. In both situations I had more the enough $$$. Walmart is bizarro. A while back Walmart when they first opened a new store here would not take our banks credit/debit card. There was such an uprour as its the largest bank that it soon was forced to take it.

Sandy C
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Nora
Star Contributor

PA
USA
6340 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2007 :  06:16:03 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Companies like Telecheck, Certegy, etc., are check authorization services contracted by retailers such as WalMart. The criteria that these services use to decline a check is extremely arbitrary. They can deny you for something as innocuous as writing a check out of sequence or writing what they consider to be too many checks, or writing a check that they consider to be "out of pattern"---but they will never tell you exactly what is out of pattern for you; their stock response is that they don't have the ability to override what their records have on you. These services use their own criteria and also use criteria specified by the individual client companies. I am guessing that retailers don't like the cost or risk associated with paper checks and are trying to phase out this service to customers by making the experience of writing a paper check so troublesome and humiliating that customers will stop using paper checks.

As far as contacting someone, I would definitely start with the local WalMart management and make it clear that you felt humiliated by the experience, particularly since there was no valid reason for declining your check. My guess is that store management will pass the buck onto Telecheck; I would then contact WalMart corporate offices and ask for an explanation of why a check drawn on more than sufficient funds would be allowed to be declined. I know that debit cards are processed differently than paper checks, but these cards are generally declined,too, if there are insufficient funds in the bank account.
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Jules in Boston
Star Contributor

Boston, MA
USA
1492 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2007 :  09:30:42 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
There is nothing to be humiliated about. Sh!t happens. sometimes people use cash and don't have enough money and have to put things back.
It is 2007 and millions of checks and credit card transactions are processed daily and yes there are oops in the systems. I prefer to leave checks for mailing bills. I use my credit card or cash because I don't like the process of presenting ID etc. I also do not like to be in line behind someone who uses a check, has to hunt down their ID in their purses, ask a bunch of questions. etc.

I do not think that they did it deliberetly to you. They want the money from your purchase and your business.

Contact you bank. They have your money and oversee your account. They should contact Telecheck.

Yes things like this happen to everyone and it stinks. The only safe option is to use cash.



GOLD CERTIFIED
Shopping Boston, MA and metro area.
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Quinn
Star Contributor

Atlanta, GA
USA
50242 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2007 :  10:01:00 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Why waste the effort worrying about it or the time contacting Telecheck? It happened, it is over and done with. As Jules pointed out, these things happen.
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JanJojo
Star Contributor

West Virginia
USA
42759 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2007 :  5:54:07 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am taking action on this matter,because it should not happen
to anybody without justifiable cause. I spoke to the local
Walmart and they did pass the buck onto Telecheck. Now it is
on my agenda to contact the big wigs in the corporate office.
I love my check card and use it frequently. I always use it
on credit because it is safer,but also because my bank charges a
service charge
for each time the card is used as a debit card. It
makes no sense,but that is the bank's policy.
I have noticed that certain businesses now require you to present
a picture ID when using a check card. This causes a hold
up in the store line just like someone who must present ID for
writing a check.
If someone does not take affirmative action,this type of uncalled
for activity is going to keep on happening.

Janette Johnson
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Virginia_D
Valued Contributor

Lubbock, TX
USA
169 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2007 :  10:26:11 PM  Visit Virginia_D's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I had a check declined once at a major retailer for a similarly stupid reason. The checker would have to input your DL# and DOB to verify the check. Instead of putting in "01" January, she put in "10" -- of course the DOB didn't match my DL and the check was declined. It took me a couple of days to get it tracked down.

I have had problems using my card at a retailer when I use it on debit, but goes thru on credit ok every time. It turns out that the bank's computer is down and the card can't be verified.

It's very possible that may have been the problem here as well. I was told once that every transaction in every walmart has to go from your local store to Arkansas and back to your local bank -- that is the way that all the debit/credit/checks are run. If there was a phone line down somewhere in the system, it would kick your check out.

Virginia
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Quinn
Star Contributor

Atlanta, GA
USA
50242 Posts

Posted - 09/24/2007 :  05:34:42 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
In my opinion it is a waste of time and energy pursuing the matter. I would however change to a bank that does not charge a fee for using a debit card.
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Nora
Star Contributor

PA
USA
6340 Posts

Posted - 09/24/2007 :  2:55:59 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I don't know that it is necessarily a waste of time and energy. Most of us over a certain age remember the days when having a check declined was clearly an exercise in humiliation. If a business is allowing payment by paper checks, then it should behoove them to make the process as painless as possible for the customer, or straightforwardly eliminate as an option that form of payment. The fact that one may proceed to scan, without difficulty, a debit card associated with a bank account without being declined is a pretty clear indicator that the criteria being used so wildly arbitrarily by Telecheck and its clients is often without merit.

There are a number of reasons why a customer would prefer to write a check instead of using a credit or debit card. Some are related to fees that the customer is dinged for by the issuing bank. Other customers find that they can more easily control their spending by writing a check and immediately noting the expenditure in their checkbook register; studies have repeatedly shown that people spend significantly more when using debit or credit cards than when using checks or cash. Few of us have the discipline to note every debit, credit, or ATM transaction and so we can easily overspend or lose track of our balances. Retailers, of course, know all of this and will strongly encourage transactions conducted with plastic, and discourage paper transactions. As far as being behind a customer who is processing a check transaction, our irritation should be directed more toward the stores that are under-staffing their checkouts so that lines form, even in the best of circumstances.

I applaud JanJojo for making the effort to address this issue; personally, I am of the "it's the squeaky wheel that gets the oil" school of thought.

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JanJojo
Star Contributor

West Virginia
USA
42759 Posts

Posted - 09/24/2007 :  7:47:23 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
You are so right Nora!!! I could sit back and do nothing about the
situation or I could take the bull by the horn!!! I choose to take
the bull by the horn. Maybe this attitude has to do with having to
stand up for myself so many times over the years.
Walmart Corporate Headquarters will be receiving a phone call from
me in the morning. I did not call today,because I know that Monday
is the day that businesses tend to receive the highest volume of
calls. I want their undivided attention. I will be handling this
situation in a professional manner. Hopefully I will receive an
intelligent answer when I ask them " Why would a check be declined
at Walmart when there is a sufficient amount of money to cover
the check in the checking account ? " I'd really like to be face
to face with the person who will be answering this question. Will
they be squirming in their seat? Will they pass the buck like the
local Walmart did? Do they have a standard response that they make
for each time that they receive this question? Will I be blown
away by the 100 % perfect answer that they give? Oh well!!! Tomorrow
will be the moment of truth!!!

Janette Johnson
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Sandra Wright
Star Contributor

Arlington, VA
USA
2086 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  05:19:40 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Hey Jan I'm truly looking forward to this answer. While your at it ask a question for me about Sam's Club. Why are they the last on the earth to not take a Visa Card. You don't have to ask but It would be fun to know.
Nora very well worded reply I very much agree.

Sandy C
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Marie In Chicago
Mega Contributor

Chicago, IL
USA
61749 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  08:15:29 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sandra Wright

Why are they the last on the earth to not take a Visa Card
They're all about saving money and Visa charges more every time a customer uses their card. That's why for so long they only accepted cash or check.
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JanJojo
Star Contributor

West Virginia
USA
42759 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  08:27:25 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Sorry Sandy,but I had already contacted Walmart Headquarters before
I read your posting.
I contacted Walmart at 1-800-Walmart.Finally after being put on hold for 5 minutes a customer service rep. answered my call. I asked her
my intended question. She said that I need to speak with someone in
the Walmart check writing area. She then proceeded to give me another
telephone number.I immediately started thinking that here goes another big phone runaround. I dialed 1-800-866-0828.I was put on hold for a couple of minutes. A customer service rep. took my call.
She asked me for my name,checking account number and drivers license
information. I asked my question and she said that she was going to put me on hold so she could find out the answer to my question.7
minutes later she returns to the line. She told me that I am in their
system as approved for writing checks. I asked her that if this was the case why was my check declined? Once again I was put on hold for
about 4 minutes. She came back on the line and said that the check reader was unable to read the magnetized check number strip on the
bottom of my checks.She said that this was an issue that I needed to
straighten out with my local bank,because it was an error on their
part. I told that customer service rep. that other stores were able
to accept my checks without any problem. She replied that she did
not understand this at all. I thanked her very much for her assist-
ance with this matter and hung up.
I do not order my checks through the bank. The checks that I am using
now are from Bradford Exchange. I have been using checks from this company for a couple of years. I am still blaming Walmart. If any
other store had not accepted my checks I would really think that
the check printing company had messed up. I know better!!!




Janette Johnson
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Nora
Star Contributor

PA
USA
6340 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  08:42:33 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
You gotta love the "it's somebody else's fault" merry-go-round! All printed checks conform to current standards...doesn't matter where they come from. Your bank contracts check printing to the same companies that also allow direct ordering from customers.

I would send a written letter to the top of WalMart's corporate office in Arkansas. Along with your original complaint, you have a thorough documentation of your fruitless interaction with WalMart's customer service department; include a description of this, as well, and ask how they intend to rectify this situation.
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JanJojo
Star Contributor

West Virginia
USA
42759 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  09:00:35 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Does anyone have the Snail mail address for Walmart Corporate
Headquarters? Is their a certain individual that I should address
my letter to? I want to go to the top this time!!!

Janette Johnson
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Mimi
Star Contributor

USA
1691 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  09:10:05 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I'm glad you brought this up JanJojo, because I have been wondering about Wal-Mart's check policy ever since my first visit almost two years ago. This was when we initially moved to the woods in East Texas, and everyone in town told me I could find whatever we needed at this huge store. They told me to be sure to dress in my finest because the Wal-Mart here is a grand social experience. Naturally, I usually wear my feather boas with matching hats!!!

Back to my initial visit...all my purchases had been rung up and I pulled out my checkbook to write a check. The lady did something with my check, I couldn't see what she was doing, then she handed the check back to me and said thanks. I gave my check back to the lady and told her it should probably be placed in her register. The woman behind me said they don't do that here in the woods, and I can keep my check for as long as I want. The cashier handed me my check again and wished me a nice day. Since my facial expression was a big question mark, the cashier added that Wal-Mart had magically taken the money out of my checking account, and they did not need my check because it was a paperless transaction. The customer behind me agreed and asked if I was new in town. When I said I was, the whole line of people waiting started to clap and welcome me to their fine city. I was so glad I had worn the purple boa!!!

A few days after this happened, I received my new debit card from the bank. In the past, I usually cut these up and simply wrote checks, however, this time I kept it and started using it all over the place...wow, what a convenience.

I never had a problem using the debit card until the other day when I was trying to pay for some prescriptions for my DH. The pharmacy was my usual one and I was in the drive-through. Granted, the total was a bit higher than usual, $878, but many times it had been way up there and the debit card always worked. The lady came to the window and told me she could not use it for payment because it was not going through. I gave her my secret code to run it through that way, but it still didn't work. She asked if I had my check book, but I told her it was the same account, she said let's just try it, so I wrote a check and it went through. I guess this pharmacy isn't as magical as Wal-Mart!!


Mimi
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Marie In Chicago
Mega Contributor

Chicago, IL
USA
61749 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  09:23:15 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
http://www.walmartstores.com/GlobalWMStoresWeb/navigate.do?catg=224
quote:
Does anyone have the Snail mail address for Walmart Corporate
Headquarters? Is their a certain individual that I should address
my letter to?
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SJones
Star Contributor

USA
3120 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  09:28:04 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Good luck with that. In our AT&T dilemma, we complained to headquarters. All we got was a nice letter stating, it's the local carriers fault, not AT&T's. Hello! The local carrier is AT&T.

But I'm getting off topic. There is nothing wrong with your checks. If they would be unable to read the numbers, it would state it that way on the screen. They messed up and don't want to admit to it. There might have been a slight issue in getting your money the last time you used a check. Walmart is very fast in trying to get your money. Not all financial institutions comply when pressured by them to provide the money ASAP, and I mean that second. When I pay with credit card, it's automatically deducted from my available balance, even though officially it's not gone through yet. Usually, I cannot see deductions online until the actual purchase posted to my account, meaning the money has been handed to the merchant by my cc company. However, if I go to Walmart and buy something, I can immediately see that my available balance is reduced. This only happens at Walmart, everybody else has to wait at least a day. I could have done a hundred transactions on the very same day before going to Walmart, Walmart still gets to the money first.

And yes, I know how embarrased one can feel. I had a problem with their machine with two credit cards! Both had sufficient amounts to cover the balance at least ten times, but no, I was declined for both. And of course, somebody you know is right there, when this happens. I ended up writing a check. However, when the next customer had the same problem, they finally figured out the machine was broken!

Susanne
MSPA Silver Certified!
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Angie@Spies
Member

Schererville, IN
USA
42 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  11:58:44 AM  Visit Angie@Spies's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Just some info from my previous worked-in-a-bank experience.

Mimi -- banks set different limits on debit card transactions - and generally a different amount if you use it as a "credit card" or as a PIN based transaction. Thus, even though the money is in your account and a check would be valid, the debit card would not be. For example, if you have $10 in your account but your allowed limit per day for debit card transactions is $5, you would not be able to use the debit card for $8 even though you have the money in the account. Account limits vary by customer and if you are a good customer of the bank you can often request that those limits are increased. (Note, these limits, and the holds placed, are many times the reason shop companies will tell you not to use your debit card for certain transactions and especially for large purchases like hotel reservations or airline tickets).


JanJojo

quote:
my bank charges a service charge for each time the card is used as a debit card. It makes no sense,but that is the bank's policy.


If you use your card as a "credit card" it goes through the Visa or Mastercard network. If you use it as a "debit card" i.e. entering your PIN, then it goes through the Star or whatever network your bank uses. For the bank, they get cheaper rates from Visa and MC and thus promote that their customers use the cards as a credit card - no PIN - and often will charge a fee for using it with a PIN.

For the merchant, it is cheaper for them if you use your PIN versus the rates that Visa/Mastercard set. This is why Walmart spearheaded a big class action suit against Visa and Mastercard and at least for awhile would not accept your debit card as a credit card, only allowing you to enter your PIN.

Angie
Spies in Disguise, Inc
www.spiesindisguise.com
angie@spiesindisguise.com
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Mimi
Star Contributor

USA
1691 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2007 :  2:18:16 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Angie!! I had no idea my bank had an $800 limit on my debit card. They said they set it up that way when I opened my account, however, since I had never used any of the debit cards in the past, I was probably tuned out when they were talking about it. The banker was very nice and told me I could raise it to a higher level if I wanted to, however, for security, he suggested I keep it around $1,000. I guess he noticed I had my pin number taped to my card!!! He suggested I remove it.

That mystery is now solved...what about Wal-Mart giving me my check back??? All I can figure is the employee typed my bank number into the register and the money was electronically taken from my bank account. Since they already had my money, they didn't need my check any more. Is this correct?

Mimi
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Sandra Wright
Star Contributor

Arlington, VA
USA
2086 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2007 :  04:47:36 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Mimi you are correct about your check. Also an electronic imagine of your check went back to your bank. I like that because you have a receipt via your check. Another check experience from my CT trip. I went to fill a prescription. I went to use a check. Silly me! I was no longer in Kansas lol I mean Ohio. CT is still horse and buggy in a lot of ways. I can cash a check anywhere in OH. Now at this Rite-Aide the cashier rolled her eyes. She said I will have to get the managers approval. I said please do. She the manager came and said we don't take checks. She ajusted her broom and flew off. I got out my trusty debit card and took care of the wapping 12$. I did ask don't they have the electronic check gismo fully knowing what the answer would be.

Sandy C
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