The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

You Can’t Run From An Obligation

On September 28th, 2009, posted in: Uncategorized by

The phone rings last week and it’s one of my life-long buddies calling to complain about his bank.  Given that I have spent countless hours over many years mired in the futility of trying to convince him to move his account to a credit union, I had little empathy for his situation.  But given that he more than once pulled me up by the bootstraps, I lent him an ear and avoided the deep-seeded desire to hit him right between the eyes with an obnoxious, ill-timed “I told you so.”

So he proceeds amidst some extremely colorful language to describe the means by which the big, bad banker was stickin’ it to him.  To my surprise, and I’m sure to his as well, I calmly stated that the problem was his and that the bank had done nothing wrong as far as I could tell.  The silence on the other end of the phone was an indication that I had hurt his feelings – big time.  Oh well…it is what it is.

He was mad that the bank had made a couple of attempts to clear an automated debit and, because he had no money in his account, he was charged their “insufficient funds” fee.  “They shouldn’t have done that,” he screamed.  I responded: “Here’s the deal, man. If you authorize a company to take money from your account, and they send the authorization through electronically (one, two, three, four or 19 times), then the bank has the requirement (I emphatically repeated the word “requirement” as a means by which to drive home the point) in conjunction with the checking account agreement to attempt to clear any item they receive (paper or electronic) if and when presented.”

I asked why his checking account had zero money in it.  He proceeds to tell me that he thought if he brought his account to zero, he didn’t think the bank would do anything with the electronic request. I responded, “DUDE!!!  You can’t run from an obligation.”  Come to find out, he was trying to hide from a payday loan – he had previously authorized repayment as an automatic withdrawal from his checking account.

I could tell he was struggling.  Payday loan, insufficient funds fees, zero money in checking, and worst of all, he’s ruining his Chexsystems file and credit report by running from an obligation.  My buddy was in some trouble.  He didn’t need me piling on at this point, but I felt it imperative that I circle back around and remind him that only he knows the balance in his checking account.  I had to say something, as much as it may pain him…“Hey, big guy.  Do yourself a favor – balance your checkbook.”

The conversation ended up more like an intervention.  Sure, I felt sorry for him, but enough was enough.  He had to get his act together.  The cost of his poor money management was as expensive as any bad habit one might have.  Balancing his checking account was a great place to start.

I love my buddy, but he screwed up.  I had to tell him.  Sometimes that’s what friends do.

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