An Exercise in Frustration, Starring the Bank

As I’m a consultant for an American publisher, I naturally get paid in cheques drawn on an American bank. I must present these in person in order to deposit them. Today I went to my local branch to deposit the hefty cheque retaining my services as imprint specialist for one year.

I was told they had to hold the cheque for twenty-five business days.

That’s five weeks.

When I dared to ask why, and told them I’d had no problem depositing the last cheque from this particular company four months ago, I was informed that perhaps my branch would let the cheque through, since they knew me personally, but this branch could not help me.

So off to the West Island I travelled, and learned that the cheque has to be frozen for five weeks for three reasons:

(1) The bank currently has no employment record for me on file.
(2) It’s a US cheque.
(3) My current financial profile flags a transaction like this as dangerous.

Of course the bank has no employment record on file — I’ve been freelancing for the past two years. The teller was much more helpful than the last one; she helped me make an appointment for a financial review to upgrade my bank privileges, processed the cheque, froze the majority of it but left five hundred dollars clear so I’d at least have some money available, and explained that the successful deposit of the last US cheque was a fluke that should have flagged the system as well.

I’m a bit grumbly, as it’s taken six weeks for this cheque to get to me from the moment it was printed, and now it will take another five weeks before I can actually officially have the money. I understand that the bank has safety precautions, but still, it grates that I pay them for inconveniences like this. Sometimes I really think that keeping my money in an old sock where I can get my hands on it when I need it, and no one can charge me for the privilege of using my fortune for their own investment, is the solution.

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