the newer system generally is the better

as i learned today rather definitively. i'll start by explaining that yeah, out of a stupid antiquated habit i did (up until today) always send my rent in to the landlord by cheque. when i started paying rent aged 18 i didn't have internet banking set up on my account and i thought it was the safest way to give large amounts of money to people who don't accept debit cards, without paying charges or physically going to a bank whose only branch in the City is fucking ten miles from campus. i really ought to have rethought this policy, oh i dunno maybe four fucking years ago when i set the IB up.

so today, the ninth of goddamn January, i get a call from the landlord. "We didn't get your cheque for December; is this one we just received the December rent? What? It's the January rent, like what is due in January and arrives on January the fourth in an envelope marked JANUARY RENT? Three hundred and fifty pounds plix then, you little bastard. Now."

i called up the bank in a fucked-up medication-induced state of sociopathic calm, silently wondering whether i could use the same begging patch as my homeless friend Daz and whether he would teach me the ropes of homelessness for free. the bank, upon being told that i had written and sent a cheque, it had gone out of my account and its recipient said they didn't do that, blinked.

"You really ought not to have used a cheque," said the phone lady. "You should have put the money through over the Internet."

it turns out they don't keep records (at least not that they would give out to ID-verified customers) of where cheques fucking go. they keep records of them going out, and when one is paid in it just says CHEQUE IN :D :D :D without any indication of what cheque or whence. cockheads didn't actually have any idea who had paid in the cheque or to where, and couldn't help other than the nice lady saying it sucked and she'd do something if she could. i couldn't even get pissed off at her because she clearly wasn't able to do fuck all to help, even though she wanted to.

they just kept telling me this was a flaw of the cheque system and i ought to have used something else to pay the landlord. well, fuck, dickheads; why does the system still exist then? if it's really that insecure why don't we just fucking abolish it? and it really is that insecure, apparently. the bank shrugged and wondered idly if the police might be able to help, but i shudder to open a criminal investigation for any reason, never mind before i'd even physically seen the landlord about anything, so i ordered printed statements and a cheque voucher as evidence and excused myself before the Vulcan calm collapsed and i started blubbering like a fucking moron. i call the landlord back up and ask them to search their records for the cheque's number to see if it actually arrived, and tell them that evidence of my having written and guaranteed it is forthcoming. at this point they decide i'll be the one who needs to go to the fuzz and/or Post Office to open any investigations that are necessary, since i won't just do the easiest thing like a reasonable person and pay them twice. they tell me they only have three employees including the two people who own the fucking company and they'll get Angela to have a look in the goddamn filing cabinets. i hang up and start thinking of shit i can maybe sell to raise a secondary rent payment, possibly some viscera, quietly freaking the fuck out.

two hours later i get a call from the landlord again.

Angela found the cheque where it has been since December the fourth when i sent it. it was paid into one of the employees' personal accounts. i don't even know if that was someone stealing it or if they're actually employing someone that dim. they were very sorry for the inconvenience. i sat there for about ten minutes with dried YOU'RE-FUCKED tears on my face looking like a guy who's just been told he has HIV or something because my brain is broken and can't distinguish between a bad yet non-fatal event and the end of the fucking world as it knows it.

and all i could think was, i fucking hate cheques.



Ian said...

oh? here in the States, checks are slightly more reasonable than that. although the records will usually just show "check" unless it was converted to an electronic one, the bank always keeps scanned copies of the checks they deposit.


ThomasEgi said...

ouch, that sounds like a pretty horrible adventure you were forced into there.
altho i dont have any appropriate words to comfort you, i am glad the situation resolved in the end.

Anonymous said...

Cheques? Those still exist? I live in Germany and I haven't seen a cheque in like 15 years. Same damn reason every store in Germany stopped accepting them. Credit Cards are highly insecure, too, so almost nobody here is using them either. Most people have one for their holidays though.
Free of charge money transfer using IBAN/SWIFT or the German account number and bank number system is the way to go. Works within two days, everything recorded and you can undo any transaction back up to six weeks.
Looking at the US and UK always makes me believe your payment systems are from the last century :(
Just my 2¢

Anonymous said...

That was damn well-written transcript of a shitty experience. Which reminds me, when do we get to see some more of your fiction? Also, yeah a cheque being deposited into an employee's personal account sounds like theft to me, I hope the fucker gets canned over it.

Anonymous said...

British Banks are just weird. When I lived over yonder, I had an account with HSBC. The internet banking was "secured" by means of a numeric user ID and a magical "security code". Every time I logged in, I would be asked for a couple of digits of that security code .... yes ... because no one can guess three digits.

So aye .. I'm not surprised that they can't even manage paper money properly.

Some people deserve a very firm spanking. Very firm indeed.

Usul said...

That last anon comment was mine, wrong button and all that :/

Ben said...

Wow, that sucks...
BUT two positive things about this: 1. it was not your fault
2. it cleared without you having to pay double (which would be a tremendous injustice, but still... danger averted)

I see, this won't really deliver comfort, also I, too don't know anything clever to add.

But you shouldn't beat yourself up about freaking out and taking this as if it was a lifethreatening event. Everyone does. Humans are wired in a way that puts everything in proportion to their current state. That is also why millionaires aren't happier.

Lepht said...

thanks all. it was pretty terrifying when they called, especially since they always call B for some reason and get her to tell me things, not call me directly. i think they think she's "the responsible one".

Ian - they keep scanned copies, but these are associated with the outgoing account, so you see the problem. it's a terrible system.

ThomasEgi - i appreciate the comfort, sib. thankyou.

Usul - yeah, i'm with HSBC and they still have that for phone banking, although we've now switched to using OTK pads for online banking, which is good. annoyingly the rest of their systems are alright. spank i would if spank i could.

Ben - indeed, crisis averted. so fucking relieved when they called to say that. and that is comforting. still, one of my major treatment aims is to learn to deal with minor and major crises in a less damaging way: you're right about relativity to current status, but my mind is quite dysfunctional and without my meds it usually perceives my current status as "why don't we just kill ourselves and stop being such a waste of cells".


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