sick. I was driving it on Monday. I tried to pass a
lady who was lingering in the passing lane (not
passing anybody and slowing down traffic). When I
pushed on the gas it acted like it wanted to go and
then it lost power. No, not completely, but it felt
like it wasn't running on all cylinders. I called the
dealership right then while I was driving home and
they scheduled us to come in and leave it with them.
They said they'd give me a loaner . . . no charge this
They figured out the problem and told me I could pick
it up today. I asked the lady for the total damage
(how much my bill was), she told me. Well, it was more
than I normally transact on my check card, so I
transferred some money into my CitiBank checking
account, took my checkbook and headed to the
dealership to pick up the car.
I think in order to give you a sense of what I felt, I
need to tell you that Evelyn drives a Mercedes-Benz.
So, I have the loaner Mercedes. I picked up the dry
cleaning on the way. I had some books I was reading on
the seat. And then I had Spencer and Winston's car
seats along with two six packs of GINGER beer in the
car. I want you to know that I had some stuff with me. So, it wasn't gonna be like I just got out of one car, got into the next one and took off. I had to transfer some stuff.
It's a large four-lane area where you drop off and
pick up your car. Glass all around. On the side of the
drop off area is the parts department. On the side of
the pick up area is the service department. There are
at least five stations where members of the service
department are just waiting to serve you.
I drove the car up there. The young man lets me know I
can go right in to pay my bill and they'll pull my car
around for me. Great! I take my checkbook and license
into the cashier to pay. I write the check. She runs
it through the Certegy check verificaion thing.
And then I hear Jamie, the cashier say to the person
on the other end of the line, "Goodman. G-O-O-D-M-A-N
. . . Yes, Keith K-E-I-T-H." She gives them my driver
license number. (She's kind loud too.) At this point, time is
starting to slow down for me.
I'm an African-American male standing in a Benz
dealership with a sizeable bill to pay.
We did this Dave Ramsey seminar years ago and I got
rid of all my credit cards, so I don't have a credit
card to fall back on and the amount of the bill is
larger than my daily limit on my checkcard.
She looks up at me and says, "I'm sorry, sir. Your
check has been declined."
Huh? I've got money in the account. I transferred the
money over MYSELF from the savings to the checking
"I'm sorry, sir. I cannot accept your check," she
repeats. Is there a Citi Financial office anywhere
nearby? So, now somebody gets me a phone book. I've
opened this higher interest savings account online, so
there's no CitiBank branch anywhere nearby. In fact,
my branch is in Englewood, New Jersey. (That's like
near . . . NEW YORK CITY!)
So, I call my bank. Please know that this is getting
more embarrassing by the second because they've pulled
my car around. Washed it and everything. They are
expecting me to get in my car and leave. Wynn, the guy
over the loaner department, comes out to get
information on the car I brought back so he can take
it, get it in order for the next person.
But I can't take my car 'CAUSE I HAVEN'T PAID FOR IT
YET. So, I'm messing up the flow of the drop off pick
up area. Folk are coming and going and this Negro is
on the phone acting like he's got money to pay this
bill and he knows he ain't got no money to pay this
bill! (That's what I'm thinking these wealthy White
people are thinking.)
There are Black people who work in the dealership.
I've seen them before. They are conspicuously
invisible at this moment. They don't want to be
associated with the slow-pay no-pay Negro out there
acting like he got money and he know he ain't got the
money to pay. (Again, that's what I'm feeling.)
I end up talking to three people at my bank explaining
to them that I need them to do something. "I'm not
asking for a loan," I said to one bank rep. "I just
want to get access to my money through this legitimate
means of writing a check." I asked if they couldn't do
a check if they could wire it someplace so I could
pick it up.
I went back to the desk and, praise the Lord, Jamie's
boss was standing right there. I explained that I had
my bank rep on the line and she is willing to call the
finance department and verify that there are
sufficient funds to back the check I was writing them.
His name was Frederick Davison. He approved my check
after verification. I took my car and left. I was so
disgusted/embarrassed that I drove out without getting
everything out of the loaner car. You know how you
just want to get out of there?!? Yeah, that was me.
Wynn, the nice guy over the loaner department called
me on my cell to let me know that I had left the boys'
car seats. So, I had to turn around and go back one
more time to get the seats.
I called Certegy on my way home. I was calm, but I let
them know how embarrassing it is to be standing in a
dealership with money and they tell you that your
check is not accepted. The lady apologized. She
conceded that there was no upaid check information in
their file, but that since the CitiBank account was
relatively new, in order to prevent fraud and to
protect both the customer and the merchant, they
denied my check.
Now, does that make sense to you? I can see if I'm not
present. But if I'm standing physically in the
dealership with a photo ID that has my signature on it
that matches the check I signed AND I have the money
in the bank AND they have NO record of me writing bad
checks, why would they deny my check?! (I'm getting
excited again just thinking about it.)
They are going to write me a formal letter of apology.
It's really not enough. But it's a start. I wish there
were some way for me to find out who else has had this
experience with this check verification company.
Something needs to be done. This is not a company that
I have decided to patronize, yet they shut me down
today FOR NO GOOD REASON.
These increased security measures can be good in some
ways, but they can really jam up good people when they