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BraveWarrior's avatar

Can you suggest wording for notification of bounced check?

Asked by BraveWarrior (1324 points ) October 16th, 2009

I have a home-based business. My company recommends that we do not accept personal checks, but I make exceptions for family & people I know well. My next-door neighbor of 8 years recently paid for an $70+ order by check. She had been in a car accident & was out of work waiting for disability payments to kick in & asked me to wait until a certain date to deposit it, which I did. The check bounced & the bank charged me $10 NSF fee on top of it. I waited a few weeks to see if she approached me & she hasn’t. Keeping in mind she lives next door to me, do you have a suggestion for some sensitive wording, (not “I could have used your rubber check to play handball”) to acknowlege she’s embarrassed & may be struggling a bit financially but her check bounced & she’s got to pay me $70+$10 fee by cash or credit card only? Thanks!

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14 Answers

RedPowerLady's avatar

@BraveWarrior Do you have a timeline to get this paid off, meaning can she pay you back in installments or do you need it in full?

You might consider too that she doesn’t know her check has bounced. Often when people get in financially tight situations they quit checking their bank account. It is counter to keeping ones finances in good order but it is a way of coping with the financial situation.

I might go over with some cookies and ask how she is doing. Chit chat a bit. Then say you know this is embarrassing to discuss and you feel just awful bringing it up but the check she gave you bounced and that your company is making you charge her the bounce fee. (that may not be entirely true but it is an effective tool). So she owes you 80.00 . Say you feel horrible about her situation right now and are sorry to bring this up. Tell her she doesn’t have to decide right now how she is going to pay but you appreciate it if she can get back to you by (this date) so you don’t get in trouble by your company. (again may not be entirely true but an effective tool). If you can offer payments then make sure to offer that to her.

This is such a sticky situation. I hope it works out.

NewZen's avatar

Lurve for rubber check for handball!

How about:

Dear Mrs. Jones,

I am very sorry to have to tell you that your cheque has been returned by the bank. Perhaps it was a mistake, however, the $ are now overdue and I have had to pay an additional $10 for this error.

Please find the time to rectify this. Enclosed, please find a stamped, self-addressed envelope for your convenience and prompt payment.

Thank you for your quick response to this letter.

Yours truly,

“Handball player”

MagsRags's avatar

I don’t know if your bank notified you, but I deposited your check on the date you suggested and it didn’t clear. I was appalled to see that they charged a $10 fee too. When do you think you might be able to pay that $80? Would it help if you did it in installments?

scamp's avatar

Hi (insert name here) I hate to mention this, but your check bounced, and I have to recover the 10 dollar fee my bank charged me as well.

@MagsRags idea of offering installments is a good one if you think she will have a hard time paying it in full right now.

patg7590's avatar

look neighbor, I like you, you know I do, it’s just, I can’t guarantee your safety unless you give me my money. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen so just pay up and no one has to get hurt. Threatening? No, don’t be silly. All I’m saying is that, sometimes things happen. Terrible things. Things that no one could see coming. Okay?

you could even throw in a: “I know where you sleep at night!”

missingbite's avatar

If she has been a neighbor and friend of eight years who is down on her luck waiting on disability, might I suggest that you cover the $80.00. She already knows she owes you and your company said not to accept checks. If you can afford it, just clear it and stop taking checks from anyone.

inkvisitor's avatar

I was going to mention waiving the ten, but yeah, are you able to cover the whole thing (like @missingbite mentioned)?

BraveWarrior's avatar

Thank you all for your replies (even @patg7590 since you gave me a good laugh!:) She’s been a neighbor but more of a “wave over the fence neighbor” than a friend. If it was a $20 order, I’d cover it, but not for $80+. I love the cookie suggestion by @RedPowerLady (especially as I was thinking more of sending a letter than a personal visit) and the suggestions from eveyone who suggested offering payments. And, as I’ve had 3 bounced checks now in the 4 years I’m doing this business, I’m going to notify all my customers that as per “business” policy, I am no longer able to accept personal checks. Thanks to all!

Val123's avatar

@patg7590 And enclose a video of someone getting hit by a train!

Good luck. It can be touchy. When I had my daycare I had a parent write me a bad check. I didn’t think it was any big deal, I’d just let them know and they’d make good. Well, I brought it up, and man! Did the dad get defensive! He said, “What! Are you saying our checks are no good? We’re thieves or something??”
I was totally taken aback! I said, “No! Of course not. But—the check didn’t clear. I assumed you’d appreciate the chance to take care of it!” He just acted like the whole thing was my fault!!

I know….Call her bank every day for a couple of weeks, see if the funds might be available, then cash it there, and she may need never know. If it works, I’d let the $10 slide…

BraveWarrior's avatar

@Val123 Forgive my ignorance but “call her bank every day for a couple of weeks, see if the funds might be available” – are you saying that her bank would tell me if she has at least $80 in her bank account? I’d hate to think someone else could call my bank and ask about how much money is in my account!

scamp's avatar

I thought about this question again last night, and something came to mind. If your neighbor asked you to post date the check, she must have known that she didn’t have the funds in her account to cover it. She should have asked you to hold it a little longer if she wasn’t able to get the money in the bank on time. I really don’t think you should feel bad about talking to her about it and ask her to pay the extra charge. You can word it politely, but I don’t think you should feel guilty for asking her to pay what she owes.

Also, if you resubmit it and the funds still aren’t there, you more than likely will be charged again if it bounces. I think your best bet is to ask her to pay in cash so there aren’t any more miscommunications.

Also, if the bank tells you she has the funds in her account, they would honor only the amount of the check. You would still have to speak to her about the extra 10 dollar charge.

Val123's avatar

@BraveWarrior Well, you have the check number, you have her account number, you tell them what the deal is and the amount of the check and yes, they will give you a simple “Yes it will clear,” or “No, it won’t at this time.” They won’t give you any more information than that such as a balance or anything. Yes, I’ve done it several times, at different banks.

BraveWarrior's avatar

@scamp @Val123 Thank you both for your replies. I think, since I’ve had 3 checks bounce in 4 years (one was actually from the Director of my full-time job!), I’m done taking checks & will send an email notification to all my customers stating “In accordance with x’s policy, I regret that I can no longer accept personal checks. All payments must be cash or debit/credit card.” And I like @RedPowerLady ‘s suggestion of paying a very sensitive, kind, & concerned neighborly visit – I trust that will diffuse any defensiveness – while pursuing collection, including the $10 fee. After all, while neighbors & while a home-based business, this is a business and I have to treat it as such, the same as brick & mortar retailer. Thank you all again for your excellent suggestions!

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