The Best of Creative Computing Volume 2 (published 1977)

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The Magic Of Electronic Funds Transfer (trouble depositing foreign checks)
by David H. Ahl

graphic of page


by David Ahl

It all started innocently enough one day when I received four French checks back
from the bank (Morris County Savings) full of staples, folds, and mutilations.
Accompanying them was a teller's slip with the cryptic notation, "not cashed due
to change in foreign exchange regulations."

Okay, set them aside and remember to inquire about them next time I'm in the

Next day, I receive another slip from the bank charging my account $31.84, again
with a cryptic notation on the teller's slip, "charged to your account by
Manufacturer's Hanover Trust Company." Strange, I thought, since I'd never gone
there in my life.

I decided a visit to the bank was in order, even though I normally avoid it like
the plague (just can't stand long lines and well-meaning-but-not-very-bright

Decided to see an officer. Did you know that the "officers" sitting in the open
area where you open new accounts and redeem bonds and get your signature
approved et al are really just pseudo officers? After two of them huddled for
about 15 minutes, one left to check the account "on the computer," some more
discussion and then this woman pseudo officer announced, "Manufacturer's Hanover
charged your account for cashing four
foreign checks."

"But they didn't cash them," said I. "Here they are."

"Well then they charged you for processing them."

"By processing, you mean returning them uncashed" I said, trying to keep emotion
from creeping into my voice.

"I guess you'll have to take it up with Manufacturer's Hanover," she said,
cleverly trying to pass me out the door.

"But they aren't my bank, you are!" I said, allowing my emotion somewhat more
open rein. The discussion continued in an inconclusive but gradually loudening
manner, when she hastily excused herself. She returned in 10 minutes with a
large man. I had visions of being escorted out the door but he showed me into a
big office in the back. If not a real officer, he was less pseudo than the ones
in front.

He explained that First National City Bank and Manufacturers Hanover were Morris
County's foreign correspondent banks. There was another link through
Heritage-Iron Bank but I never did understand that one. Anyway, the
correspondent banks had announced that they were instituting a wonderful new
computerized Electronic Funds Transfer System and they were doing away with
time-consuming, messy, paper transactions and doing everything by electronic
wire transmission. The announcements added that the cost per transaction was
only $7,96 (M-H) and $9.26 (FNCB). This compares to $1.50 per check in the
"old-fashioned" paper way. The announcement also said that regretfully, personal
accounts could not be handled at this point.

In short, what had happened to our account was this: we received 4 subscription
checks from France (total value $38.00) They were sent for collection to M-H who
charged $7.96 ea. or $31.84. They were not collected (personal checks) but we
were still charged. The officer promised to "look into the situation."

That was six weeks ago. A call yesterday indicated that Manufacturer's Hanover
finally replied to the effect
that they incurred the cost and it was up to us to pay (even though no service
was performed).

I also inquired whether the use of cash had been outlawed yet and they allowed
that it was still OK. Hence, instead of adding $8.00 or $9.00 to foreign
subscriptions, we are suggesting that foreign subscribers pay for subscriptions
in U.S. currency. Yes, I know that sending cash through the mail is "dangerous"
but I either (1) have to open a foreign bank account in every country in which
we do business or (2) add $8 or S9 to foreign subscriptions or (3) risk mail
theft, Frankly, the last seems the most sensible alternative.

(We can still handle checks from Canada, but I suspect that won't last long).

The recent postal rate increase, has also forced a slight adjustment in foreign
subscription rates. Also, no more foreign student subscriptions-one rate for

Foreign Subscription Rates:

1 Year $10.00
3 Years $27.00

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