Can a payee charge bounced check fee on top of my bank's fee?
December 22, 2004 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Additional bounced check fees? I deposited a check that ended up bouncing. Before I figured this out, I wrote a check on the account that subsequently bounced. So, I get a $25.00 fee for the deposited check, another $25.00 fee for the check I wrote, but now the institution I wrote the check to wants to tack on an additional $25.00 fee. Can they do this?

If that was confusing, I can be more specific.
posted by Civil_Disobedient to Work & Money (22 answers total)
Oh they can do that...they are the bank.

The institution you wrote the check to is another bank? or a business of somesort that has a "returned check fee"?
posted by birdherder at 8:35 AM on December 22, 2004

Yes, they can do that. Your bank charges you for knowing a deadbeat, then it charges you for being a deadbeat, and then the people you deadbeat charge you for being a deadbeat.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:37 AM on December 22, 2004

I'm guessing they can. That being said, if you have since gotten enough money in your account to cover the checks your wrote, a very contrite, "I've been with your bank for X years and this never happened before and I'm sorry and it'll never happen again" may get your bank to refund the fees. You can try it with the other bank too. You never know; it might work. (It has for me in the past.)
posted by Doohickie at 8:38 AM on December 22, 2004

Has the bank given a reason/cause/explanation for the 3rd charge?
posted by davidmsc at 8:38 AM on December 22, 2004

The institution that received the bounced check was a grocery store. I figured I'd have to suck up the fees from the bank, because, as birdherder said, they're the bank and they can do what they want. But a further charge from the grocery store? When did they get power?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:43 AM on December 22, 2004

Sorry if this is obvious to everyone else... I guess I'm just irate because a damned $12.00 check (+ 1 deadbeat) is going to end up costing me $75.00. Fucking insanity.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:45 AM on December 22, 2004

Short answer: Yes, they can do that. The law in your state almost certainly specifies that the business you (unintentionally) wrote the bad check to can charge you a fee as well.

As for bank fees for bounced checks, banks *do* have expenses associated with handling bad paper, but for most banks these kinds of fees are a pretty significant profit center.

And it's likely to get worse.
posted by enrevanche at 8:50 AM on December 22, 2004

Yeah. The grocery store can charge you the returned check fee and usually won't budget on waiving that. Somewhere at the store it is probably posted that they charge if your check bounces.

And if you don't pay for that they might report you to the police and/or those check credit bureau places and you'll be screwed for life.

Technically, the grocery store is charging you that fee to recover the fee the bank charged it. Since you have money to cover the deposit, that means the banking industry made $100 off that check you received that bounced.

You should charge the person that wrote the bad check to you a fee to recover your lost money.

If the bouncing had to do with a bank error [one time a deposit of $1,000 was posted for $10.00 I had several checks bounce] they will credit your account for the fees and if necessary, write a letter to the places where your checks bounced to get you back in good graces.
posted by birdherder at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2004

Just so I have this straight:

Someone wrote you a $12 check that bounced.
(1) Fee from your bank = $25.

You wrote a check to a grocery store that bounced b/c you didn't have enough $ in your account.
(2) Fee from your bank = $25.
(3) Fee from grocery store = $25.

Set aside for the moment whether these fees are outrageous or not (it really costs a bank $25 to "process" bad checks? i don't think so).

(3) is the grocery store trying to pass along to you the gharge they probably incurred from their bank for your bad check. Why can't you do the same and try to pass along (1) to the person that wrote you a bad check?

Ideally, you could pass along (2) & (3) to that person as well, but they might (legitimately) claim that you bear as much responsibility because you wrote a check before theirs had cleared - e.g., you wrote a check using money that you did not have yet. So I'd see if you can get (1) reimbursed and take the rest as a lesson to wait until checks clear before your withdraw money on an account.

boy i'll do anything to avoid work....
posted by googly at 9:10 AM on December 22, 2004

As birdherder put it, the grocery store is charging you their bank fees. Most stores will do this, and have signs saying so. I purposely always keep a minimum balance of a few hundred bucks in my account so that my cheques will always clear. Plus, my bank waves service charges as long as my account doesn't dip under a certain thershold.
posted by raedyn at 9:34 AM on December 22, 2004

googly -- Someone wrote me a check for more than $12 -- much more. On the deposit slip it said I had the funds immediately available, but I know all too well that it takes a couple of days for the funds to be creditted. I waited a few days, then tried writing a check off the amount I presumed I had. I presumed wrong.

Why can't you do the same and try to pass along (1) to the person that wrote you a bad check?

I guess that's pretty much my only course of action. It just sucks that everyone and their niece is getting a piece of the action. I mean, what about the store clerk who took the check in the first place? Shouldn't he get some money for his troubles? Say, $25.00? And the mailman who delivered the bank statement -- that guy was totally inconvenienced. He gets $25.00 for delivering the mail that he otherwise would not have had to carry... (ad infinitum).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:41 AM on December 22, 2004

The charges are meant to be punitive, not to compensate the store and/or bank for whatever it costs them to process the bad check.

Having said that, I do think it sucks when you get charged for taking checks from deadbeats. Getting charged for being a deadbeat seems more just; getting charged for trusting deadbeats seems wrong, somehow.

This has happened to me, BTW, about 15 years ago, and it still rankles. My damn roommate's boyfriend cost me $100, all told, for his damn bad check.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:56 AM on December 22, 2004

haha CD made a funny in his last comment.

That's all.
posted by xmutex at 9:59 AM on December 22, 2004

This has happened to me more times than I'd like (since they don't process deposits as quickly as debits, of course), and I've had 100% success getting the fees taken away just by calling customer service and nicely asking them to credit the fees back.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 10:30 AM on December 22, 2004

See- I told you. Just make sure you're contrite. Banks love grovelling; it's what they live for.
posted by Doohickie at 10:40 AM on December 22, 2004

Civil disobedients hate grovelling, but are willing to give it a try for money. Godammit.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:13 AM on December 22, 2004

I'll second what deadbeat said. Ask politely, and if that doesn't work, threaten to take your account elsewhere. In most cases your bank rep has discretion to remove fees, although larger institutions like Chase are cracking down on this, as bank fees are a very serious source of income for financial institutions these days. Damn bloodsuckers.
posted by Shane at 11:59 AM on December 22, 2004

As I work for a "bloodsucking" bank, I can tell you that most of the time, if the rep can give your fee back, and you are a good customer (this is the first time, you're not all the time overdrawn, etc) then you have a good chance at getting one (possibly both) fees back. And, as people have said, be nice. The people on the phone are not out to get you. Our reps argue customers' cases all the time, and they do so sucessfully.

However, if your banking history is utter crap, don't expect sympathy. It's rough but it's the truth -- banking is a business and a bank does have to make money to operate. When a check is bounced, it costs the bank man power, time, and Fed(eral Reserve) fees to process that one bit of paper, and deadbeats do get the tab on that one.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:20 PM on December 22, 2004

CD - oops, my bad. Sorry about that. I misunderstood an earlier post of yours.

Your situation sucks, and I hope that you're able to get a bit of your money back. Good luck!
posted by googly at 12:22 PM on December 22, 2004

hm, this seems a bit strange to me. i was under the assumption that if the bank charges you a fee for being overdrawn, it is because they have paid the amount of the bounced check in your stead and you owe them money (plus a fee) for that. if they paid your check, then the grocery store should never have noticed that it didn't clear anyway.

apparently this is wrong. or maybe that's the case with debit cards and not checks?
posted by pikachulolita at 3:13 PM on December 22, 2004

pikachuloita: That's what happens if you have overdraft protection. Usually there will be a standard NSF fee ($25 at my bank) and an additional fee for the overdraft ($8) if you have it turned on. But then you are spared the $25 fee from the grocery store, plus no one knows about your little problem except for the bank.
posted by grouse at 3:19 PM on December 22, 2004

Well, some banks will both pay the check and charge you a fee. (Take your account into the negative, that is.) That's an overdraft. Others won't pay the check at all and will still charge you the fee. That's an NSF. By the way, with an NSF merchants are allowed to try to collect funds up to three times -- many if not most will try at least once more.

Overdraft protection is a separate issue, and if you have it the bank should not be charging you any fees -- maybe a smaller/monthly fee for the service, but none of the banks whose policies on that I know (five, two of which were my employers) charge to sign up or use overdraft protection... grouse, I don't know where you live but I'm surprised you can't find a better deal than that.
posted by e^2 at 2:09 PM on December 24, 2004

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