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Article Archive >> Community

Daze of My Life: The Proof is in the Pouting

Daze of My Life
The Proof is in the Pouting

I have a banking problem, a problem which I wouldn't have, or be concerned with having - or be interested in outing - if I had as much money as this bank already has. And since I'm not an investigative journalist (heck, some might not even consider me a columnist, even though this "column" has been published weekly without interruption since Dec., 1997), I cannot - and will not - name names, although I will cast aspersions.
And the aspersions to which I refer are this bank's accounting of payments received, specifically my mortgage payment. On more than one occasion, I have been assessed a $65 late fee, not for being 30 days late, mind you (and as such not being reported to the credit bureau I've been reassured) but for being a day or two late (heck, maybe just an afternoon or an evening late), but I don't really know, and that's my problem/issue; other than mailing my mortgage payment as late as possible, that is, still within the two-week grace period, however, that the bank so graciously allows in order for the money to be posted by the 15th. (Obviously, if I had more money, sooner, I wouldn't be so inclined, but work with me here.)
Now if I were to be more prudent in my payment planning and wanted/needed 100 percent confirmation, I suppose I could send my payment "registered"/return receipt/payment confirmation, etc. Unfortunately, my payment, as do many other payments - credit cards, car payments, loans, etc., are mailed to a P. O. Box, not a person. And so far as I know (and sometimes that's not too far), the Box isn't able to sign or confirm anything. That being the case, presumably it's acceptable that I'm sending my payment first class.
The problem is, the dispute is, when does my check actually arrive and how do I know it arrived when the bank said it did? For all I know, it arrived on time and the bank simply chose to tell me otherwise and then penalized me for the alleged tardiness. I mean, even though the bank is a corporation, they're still only human, right? And human nature being what it is, and with bad loans accumulating at record default rates, why wouldn't, why couldn't they pinch a little off my top? Who's going to know? After all, who's going to, and for what reason would they, audit/monitor the Bank's accounts receivables to determine if check arrivals verses actual posting/crediting of said checks verses late fees assessed was accurate? Not me, that's for sure. I'm simply the poor, helpless schlub who has to pay. What recourse do I have, what rights do I possess, to dispute a bank's internal accounting- of-money procedures? Would zero be overstating it? I'd be better off tilting at windmills.
And the reason for this rant, other than the obvious is, that I have on-line banking with another bank, specifically my mother's account, for which I am the power of attorney. As such, I am able to see when checks clear relative to when I mailed them and thus monitor and control the ebb and flow of her cash. And it just so happened that recent activity in her account coincided with mortgage payment activity in mine (see above and then below).
I mailed a credit card payment of hers from our office in McLean on Tuesday, Jan. 16 to a P.O. Box for Wachovia Bank in Charlotte, NC. It cleared my mother's account two days later, posting on-line on Thursday, January 18. I mailed my mortgage payment from the same McLean office on Friday, January 11, heading for a P.O. Box in Oxon Hill, MARYLAND and as of four mailing days later, Tuesday, January 15, (Saturdays count, right?), my mortgage payment still had not posted. That's 23 miles to Oxon Hill verses 400 miles to Charlotte (I went on Mapquest) and yet the mail to Charlotte posted and cleared two days before in half the time and one twentieth the distance, than to Oxon Hill.
Now either something is rotten in Denmark (the windmill reference) or in my particular case, Oxon Hill. I shouldn't have to pay. But other than not being too proud to beg, how do I prevail?

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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