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Help! What do I do when a check gets lost in the mail?

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booksenkatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 06:55 AM
Original message
Help! What do I do when a check gets lost in the mail?
In 25 years of paying bills, I can't believe I've never had this happen, and now that it has, I have no idea how to protect myself. I don't know what my rights are.

Payment of $406 was due on September 10th. I do all of my banking online, but felt that this company would actually get my payment faster via mail, since they are pretty close to me and my bank needs LOTS of advance time to set up an online payment. I also felt it would expedite processing if I used the company's nifty little pre-printed address labels and darling little payment stubs from a precious payment booklet they sent to me this summer. Payment was sent September 4th, admittedly a little late by my standards. I mailed it at the post office.

Then yesterday, September 27th, I got a letter from them stating that they haven't received my payment for September and they are assessing a late charge of $25! Since it will cost $25 to stop payment on the check, we're talking about paying FIFTY DOLLARS, when I fulfilled my part of the obligation to the best of my ability. While I have only a very short history with this company (just a few months), should I direct them to my perfect credit record of 25 years to prove I'm not a negligent bill payer? I refuse to pay that $25 to them on principle. If I pay it, I will be admitting guilt.

I am livid. I've been out of work for 18 months, so $50 means grocery money to me. Things are tight at my house. Already, going into October, I am in the red and am trying to figure out how to cut back for October, and now I'm supposed to fork over $50 to companies that don't need it as much as I do. I'm also pretty angry about them not notifying me either via telephone or email about this 17 days ago. It's time to send payment for October and I'm frankly a little leery of sending these bastards more money until the September payment is taken care of!

Where do I start to remedy this situation? What do I offer them? What should I not offer them? Which do I call first: my bank, or the company that didn't receive my payment? I'm so afraid of losing my temper when I make these phone calls tomorrow, and I know that will only make it worse. (One of my pet peeves is when I work hard to do the right thing and still get punished as if I had done the wrong thing.) But I don't know what my rights are, and I'm afraid that if I refuse to pay them their late fee, they'll wreck my perfect credit record.

Thanks for any advice.

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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:05 AM
Response to Original message
1. Depends on several things.
Who do you owe and what kind of track record do you have with them?
It's happened to us. If it's a retail business that wants to keep your goodwill as a customer, sometimes a phone call will do it.
I've had them drop the late charges in a similar situation. A couple of times they "found" the check. Be pleasant, etc. Explain your concern and tell them this has never happened to you before.

If it's a utility and you are a "captured" customer they may not be as reasonable.

If the check is made out to the company you may not need to cancel it. They should be the only ones who can cash it. Ask your bank for some guidance.
Good luck.
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booksenkatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:26 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. I'm kinda stuck with being nice because
it's for the tuition for my son's Montessori preschool. That's why our budget is so tight! But public preschool costs the same as private where I live, so my only choice would have been to not enroll him in any school, which I refuse to do.

I do like the idea of not putting a stop payment on the check, since it is made out to them. The only problem is that they STILL need their money for September, and I'm not in the position of paying $406 twice out of my monthly budget. It might be cheaper to stop payment.

Damn. Gives me something to think about.

Thanks for posting, I appreciate it!

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RoeBear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:37 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. My advice:
"I refuse to pay that $25 to them on principle. If I pay it, I will be admitting guilt."

Technically you are guilty, after all the payment never got to them.

But take your check book down to them. Show them your check register proving that you wrote it before Sept 10th. Hopefully that will be enough to convince them to drop the late charge. Then write them another check. I, personally, would not do a stop payment. If someone stole the check they would have cashed it already. But cashing a check written out to a business is not easy to do. Eventually the check will show up (stuck between your car seats? :P )
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:49 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. Don't know why I feel this way
but it just seems to me that a Montessori preschool would tend to be reasonable and understanding. Moreso than say the power co.
Volunteer to be the room mother or whatever.
;-)
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booksenkatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:57 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. The school is great but
their tuition is collected by a great big ole corporate entity that services schools nationwide... to them I'm just another number.

(I'm grocery shopping for the school tomorrow... do they want name brand products, or store brand??? Fresh dairy products, or those with old expiration dates? Bwa-ha-haaaaa!)

Really, I am so glad I came here to vent and get advice. Maybe tomorrow I'll have my thoughts collected and be able to have a civil conversation with these bureaucrats and not get myself into further trouble!

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NJCher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:09 AM
Response to Original message
2. had this happen with a house payment
Each creditor, I've found, will allow you one late payment without charge a year. Credit card companies, mortgage companies, everyone generally acknowledges that mistakes can happen.

So call them up and give them the date you wrote the check and the number of the check. Ask them to take off the late payment fee.

Then call the bank and see what the least expensive option is. I've elected to let a check go rather than pay these expensive fees. If they are too difficult with you, go open another checking account at a different bank.


Cher
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booksenkatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:30 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. I'll do my best to be nice
and ask them to waive the late fee. I'm the kind of person who would have no problem paying a late fee if I were in the wrong, but it just galls me to do it when I'm not. I've made a vow to myself never again to send a check through the mail unless I pay extra for certified mail. The funny thing is that I do all of my banking online... the ONE time I decide not to, and this happens!

Thanks so much for posting!

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Mairead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:35 AM
Response to Original message
5. You're at home out of work but paying for pre-school?
Why does that sound strange to me.
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booksenkatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:41 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. My dh has a good job
but things are just reaaaalllly tight until I can get that second income again! My income always gives us a cushion. My company that laid me off in March 2002 had thought it would take me back, but they've just announced that they are closing their Michigan office entirely next month, so I'm really up a creek.

And like I said earlier, public preschool here costs $400 a month and private is $406, so we opted for private because the class sizes are smaller. Having our 4-year-old not in school at all, well that is not an option! :)

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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:51 AM
Response to Original message
9. I run a small business
I have had this happen to me several times, so...

First, they probably DON'T think you're lying to them; I never assume that when the person hasn't done the same thing previously. Paying the late charge is not 'admitting guilt', it is (theoretically) covering the cost of them having to borrow other funds to cover their operating cost. If they DIDN'T get your check, then this IS what they had to do, so don't get hostile about it-- that NEVER helps.

Secondly, you should take your bank statement and checkbook register and go see them personally, and show them the documentation in person. The fact that you don't 'hide' behind a telephone, voice-mail, etc., and are willing to discuss this face-to-face carries great weight with most businesses. I don't know if they have a hard-and-fast rule about late-/non-payment, but if I get a plausible explanation with documentation which even *appears* to support my customer's version of events, I will waive the late charge IF they are willing to make payment then and there.

To summarize: do it in person, provide documentation, don't lose your cool and be prepared to pay what you legitimately owe when you walk in the door. :)
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:53 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. well said
What kind of business?
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:56 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. I own...
... a small newsstand that sells newspapers (local and national), periodicals, cigarettes, cigars, gum, candy and assorted sundries. I have 2 employees who work for me when I'm in school, etc. . :)
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:12 AM
Response to Reply #12
19. Is the Oct. 6 TIME out yet?
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:15 AM
Response to Reply #19
20. Only via mail...
I get my hard copies Monday afternoons.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:17 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. Like tomorrow?
I can't wait.
Sorry about the hijacked thread.
;-)
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:18 AM
Response to Reply #21
23. Hehe...
Yes, tomorrow afternoon. :)
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booksenkatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:02 AM
Response to Reply #9
14. Great advice
Thanks for that. Unfortunately, they're not local, otherwise I'd definitely go see them in person. Well, I'll just be very nice over the phone. Should I give them my credit/debit card number, or would it be better to issue a new check and have it sent via registered mail? I can't figure out the best remedy for this that is fair to all.

Believe it or not, I spent about 8 months in collections many moons ago, working for a temp agency, and loved every minute of it. I developed a fast reputation for results. Guess it's all coming back to haunt me!

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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #14
17. I would...
... give them my credit/debit card number. Nothing will re-establish trust quite as fast as on-the-spot payment. :)
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RoeBear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:24 AM
Response to Reply #14
27. How is it that...
Edited on Sun Sep-28-03 08:24 AM by RoeBear
...the school is not local? Do you mail your child to them? I hope he/she doesn't get lost. :silly:
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booksenkatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:27 AM
Response to Reply #27
29. See #13
:)

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Norbert Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:03 AM
Response to Reply #9
15. Agree completely with Padraig18
Confronting them in person with check books and bank statements shows good faith on your part. I'm not a business owner but it would impress me if someone discusses this in person with me.
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blondeatlast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 07:55 AM
Response to Original message
11. See if you can negotiate with them to make payments.
When we got into a bind while my son was in ps, we arranged to do this (we were rock solid with them previously). They did it and when things evened out we were able to pay the balance and keep up to date.
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REP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:04 AM
Response to Original message
16. I Work For a Large, Soulless Co And Here's Our Procedure
First, we ask the customer if the check has been cashed. Why? Because accidents do happen, and the check could have been coded incorrectly. If it has been cashed, get a copy, front and back, from your bank. The Company will take a look to see how it got screwed up (credited to wrong account, whatever).

If it hasn't been cashed and the customer has a good payment record, we'll generally waive the late fee. If it is a pattern - the check gets 'lost' every month - we won't. Same with people who have a lot of missed or late payments, but exceptions can be made for certain cases (they tell a good story and we believe it!)

Bottom line - they want your money, and will find a way to keep having a financial relationship with you, and the easier you make it for them, the easier they will make it for you!
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:07 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. Exactly!
I WANT to keep my customers, and mistakes DO happen. In a sense, you are both looking for a friendly 'way out' of this situation that leaves you on good terms for the future. :)
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blondeatlast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:18 AM
Response to Reply #16
22. REP really knowshis/her stuff,
he/she has given me great advice. BTW, REP, I have a lovely gently-used Camry now, thanks!
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REP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:21 AM
Response to Reply #22
25. Excellent and Gee, Thanks!
I'm a chick, by the way. An old chick.
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blondeatlast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:51 AM
Response to Reply #25
31. Thanks, I'll remember that.
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booksenkatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:20 AM
Response to Original message
24. A million thanks to everyone
who took the time to post here. I knew I'd feel better if I consulted DU about it. At least now I am calm, rational and informed. Thanks, DU! :)

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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #24
26. If DU doesn't have it,
you don't NEED it.
;-)
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:25 AM
Response to Reply #26
28. And...
...chances are, it's likely not worth knowing, any way. :)
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izzie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 08:42 AM
Response to Original message
30. I had the bank moving on taking my house on this stuff.
Trouble was I had every check some one was cashing returned in my statement. It ended up banks problem. They had sold morg. to a company and not mine but starting sending my checkes to my sons account whos they had sold 3 states away. So that compamy was paying into his account. The only thing that was the same was his name and my husbands. Not one address or number on check so be sure you look into it fast. I did not look into this until the police dropped the paper work off at my home about what the bank was going to do.Well every time they said they had no check I looked in startment and it was returned cashed, so I was not worried.
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forgethell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-28-03 11:20 AM
Response to Original message
32. This has hapened to me , too
call them up. If they person you talk to can't help, ask to speak to a supervisor. Keep going up the chain as far as you can. Some companies are populated by butts, but others are reasonable if you have a good excuse, as long as they get their money, of course.

don't let it wait!!!! Be polite. good luck
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