Continued from Part 1
Based on a True Story by Patrick Combs
Bank Error In My Favor: Collect $95,000 / ORIGINAL version.
© 2008 Patrick Combs
Now I had no recollection of ever meeting this man before and suddenly I had the horrifying thought that this was in fact, Robert Gage. (Editors note: Robert Gage is not the real name of the Security Office and standing in that elevator I could not remember what made-up name I had used on my web pages, and I was wondering if Tom Johnson was the name I had chosen?) Had he read my web pages and was he now toying with me? He spoke again, "We met the first time you came to Charles Ward. I'm the one who let you in the office." Oh! I was relieved.
The familiarity of Charles Ward's face was reassuring. Our last meeting had seemed friendly. We sat down again at a conference room table to settle our matter. We had a short checklist to work through: Sign the agreement, provide each other with originals, confirm I'd returned the check -- and lastly, "Had I brought the two checks for the interest and closing of my account?" I had.
I took the checks out of my bag, and although the words 'non-negotiable' didn't take up more than an inch of the top right hand corner of the check, they stood out like sore thumbs. I'd pay $95,000 if someone could have captured the look on Charles' face. It was a classic Kodak moment. He tilted his head to confirm that the words he was seeing were an actuality. And then his head started shaking no, and his mouth said, "Patrick, Patrick, Patrick..... This is a problem. This is a problem. What are we going to do here?" His head kept shaking back and forth. I held back my smile and said, "Don't worry about those words Charles. The words 'non-negotiable' on the face of a check don't invalidate it. It's still a perfectly legal instrument. That's my point." He looked at me like he was thinking, "You are a never-ending piece of work."
Our settlement was done. I had just signed and executed a five page agreement that won me (1) the bank admitting to mistakes (2) letters of apology sent by the bank to those who received bounced checks because of all this (3) proof that my credit rating was undamaged (4) complete dismissal of all charges and damage claims, and 5) the right to continue speaking and writing about the experience.
Before getting up from the table, I reached into my bag one more time. I produced two copies of my book and offered them to Charles (He has two daughters in college, I'd learned during our first meeting). "My way of saying thank you for helping me resolve this manner," I said. Pleasantly smiling, he replied, "You are very very thoughtful and very kind Patrick. Thank you for the most gracious offer, but I must decline. Thank you though -- I have seen your book and although I haven't read it all, it does look like a very good book."
Following that I looked at Charles and said, "Is there any one in First Interstate Bank who is interested in going after the company that issued these ridiculous junk checks?" He said that he couldn't answer that at the time (Charles always plays it close to the vest), but then he said, "I can tell you that I'm well aware of the trouble they caused here and I'm considering the actions that can be taken against them." "Great! Make sure they know that 'non-negotiable' doesn't invalidate a check" I said, "That might be a real leverage point. Make them well aware of the fact that they might have to honor 40 million of the junk checks they issue." Charles and I continued our talk about the problems that junk checks for another 10 minutes and then all the way out the door. His primary concern: Banks process millions of checks per day and billions of checks per month -- their systems simply can't look at every check.
At the elevator door he wanted to tell me something that was very important to him. "Patrick, I hope you won't encourage other people to deposit junk checks because it would not only cause problems for banks, but it would result in even bigger problems for the people who deposited the check." I assured him that I knew what he was talking about. If you deposit a junk check in an attempt to get the bank's money, you are attempting fraud. If you do it, it clears and you spend the money, you have committed fraud and possibly bank robbery (Yes, actually Bank Robbery charges).
At the same time, I am unaware of any laws that make it illegal to put a junk check into an ATM as a joke. I could be wrong, but then again, my bank never pointed out any such law to me.
Just before entering the elevator door, I asked Bernard for $5 based on the $5 Perfect Service Guarantee. “After all Bernard, the mistake happened while the policy was still in effect.” Bernard shook his head and then reached for his wallet. “The policy is no longer in effect, but I think you earned it,” he said handing me $5.
Saturday, October 7, 1995
What a tool the internet has been! Between the time I first posted these pages, on August 4, 1995, till today, October 7, 1995-- over 50,000 people have read these pages. On average, I received 100 letters a day. I'm going to miss updating these pages and receiving daily letters, but all good things should end so that there is room for bigger and better things to enter. I thank every one who followed along, and who sent their support, immensely. On the hard days, I turned to the internet for encouragement and advice.
Take care out there and Viva la Revolucion!!
Best wishes, Patrick Combs