It was the weirdest feeling. Walking around Manhattan with $8,000 in my purse and no place to put it. Did you know that banks don’t accept cash? No kidding. I know this to be a fact because I called my own bank and they turned me down.
I’m No Money Launderer
Here’s how I got myself into this mess. I had four very (very) old Series EE bonds and decided to redeem them to pay my taxes. I bank with a brokerage firm – you know, one stop banking except they don’t have branches like consumer banks.
So I walked around the corner to my friendly neighborhood bank (OK, a branch of one of the biggest banks in the world) figuring that having their credit card made me a customer. I told the teller that I wanted to redeem my bonds and get a couple of bank checks.
I showed him my credit card – issued by his bank – gave him the bonds, and waited for my checks. A few minutes later, he pushed $8,000 and change in cash through the window. No, I had said I needed bank checks. His response: “Sorry, we don’t issue checks unless you have an account with us.”
“Wait a second,” I said. “I told you I didn’t have a checking or savings account. Doesn’t my credit card with your bank name on it make me a customer?”
Not good enough.
So I asked the teller to give me my bonds back. Nope, already stamped with his bank’s ID.
So, out on the street, clutching my pocketbook, I call my financial advisor’s assistant and ask where I can find their nearest cashier because I need to deposit my $8 grand. “Oh, we’re not allowed to accept cash.”
Wait a minute. Aren’t you a bank? Don’t banks deal in money? What, do you think I’m some kind of money launderer? What ever happened to friendly customer service?
Uncle Sam to the Rescue
I’m wandering around plotting my next move when I remember you can buy money orders at the U.S. Post Office. I mean, when was the last time you went to the Post Office for a money order?
I get on the end of a long line. When I reach the clerk I take out my stash (why do I feel like a bank robber?) and meekly ask for two money orders. I guess the federal government is willing to accept the money they print. Only I learn that the largest denomination for a money order is $1,000.
That means getting multiple money orders while people are throwing daggers at me for holding up the line. I send off my taxes registered return receipt and leave with the balance in money orders made out to moi.
Of course, by now my bank’s cashier window is closed for the day.
Did I tell you that I also had to return a dozen 3-ring binders to Staples because they weren’t large enough for a project? Great, Staples is down the street from my bank so I’ll put the binders in my shopping cart and wheel them to the store on the way to make my deposit.
You have to understand that most New Yorkers don’t have cars and a taxi would have cost me the price of the binders. I start walking and 20 minutes later I reach Staples – and the store where I bought them is closed! Like, closed for good.
The nearest store is another 20-minute walk. On the way, I deposit my money orders. Arriving at the Staples location, I discover it is not a full-service store. It’s a Staples Copy and Print service!
What have I done to deserve this? I walk in ready to duke it out if they won’t take back the binders. But not to worry. I talk to lovely young woman behind the counter and she’s more than happy to oblige. Thanks, Staples!
So what has this got to do with what I usually write about? Not much. I just wanted to vent, OK?!
PS – I just received a call from my financial advisor’s assistant. The bank’s policy is they can’t accept more than one money order a week!! Apparently, they don’t trust that the federal government’s money order is good.
Why can’t I get a bank to accept my money? Eeeeeeek!