March 17, 2008

Hurray for heritage

This isn't the post you've been expecting, if you know what I've been up to. That'll come a little later.

This morning, I was awakened by a phone call at 7:50am from the CIty of Galesburg. (To be fair, it was 9:50 back home.) They wanted to let me know about the check that my BillPay had sent for the water bill---the bill was $73.42 or so, but the check was for $7,432.00. This woke me up right quick. Ann, the clerk who called me, knew I wouldn't want her to cash it, but should they shred it or would I come pick it up, and by the way how was I actually paying the bill?

The paying part was easy, as I could do so by credit card, and as for the check, I certainly couldn't come by, so I told them to shred it. At this point I wasn't worried about that check anymore, but I wanted to make sure I hadn't done the same thing with anyone else's check! So I tried to log in to my bank's website, but the problem with storing passwords in a keychain is that when you go to use an unfamiliar computer you can't always remember the password. :( Before long it had locked me out.

So I called my bank, Heritage Credit Union, to check on things. By pure chance I got Cory, a teller who I had opened the account with and I'd dealt with several times before. So we chatted for a moment and I explained the problem, and she saw the $7K charge, but happily no others that were two orders of magnitude out of range. BUT, the problem turned out to be that BillPay checks are not like regular checks, and the money is actually withdrawn from the account first. So I really didn't want that check shredded. Let me call you right back, I told her.

But over at City Hall, Ann had already helpfully shredded the check. Which was exactly what I'd said to do, and she didn't want any chance of it accidentally being cashed (see, she thought it was like a regular check too), and I think she felt bad, but I told her I'd deal with it through the bank.

So back to Cory, who actually swore when I told her they'd already shredded the check---and let me say I really appreciated the heartfelt empathy in this reaction, because part of my brain was now wondering if $7K had just evaporated, even as the rest was sure that I couldn't be the only person who had done this and there must be a way to fix it. She gave me an 800 number for the BillPay folks, who would have to be the ones to help.

I got through to them right away, and their immediate reaction was that hey, they could just stop the check. I said yes, and by the way how much would that cost? Not that the fee would keep me from doing it, of course. :) He processed it, gave me a confirmation number, and then said my account would be credited in 2-3 days. Then, he gave me a number to call to ask what the fee was, because he didn't know.

At this point, the story becomes a little surreal, because when I called that number the people at Heritage corporate HQ were not sure what the fee was and didn't know why the BillPay guy had referred me there. After a few minutes of looking, she asked if she could call me back.

Like TWENTY MINUTES LATER, I get a call back saying that the stop-check order didn't cost anything. Still no word on why the BillPay guy didn't know that!

But at that point the saga ends. I called Cory back and left a message to tell her it had worked out ok, because I was sure she'd want to know. I suppose I'm supposed to wish that the whole stop-check thing should have operated as more of a well-oiled machine, but honestly, the way things played out just made the whole bank seem a lot more human, which was exactly what I needed. Yay Heritage!

On the Supreme Court decision about the 2000 election: "No, they just followed the principle of 'one person, one vote'. And Gore lost the election, 5-4." --Michael Kimmitt

Posted by blahedo at 7:17pm on 17 Mar 2008
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