Clicking around the online banking interface of my US-based checking account in October, I discovered a service called “Online Bill Pay“. It is intended to be some kind of giro transfer. For those who don’t know it, this is how it works:
The customer (me) enters the routing number of the recipient, adds a subject, the amount and gives the transaction a name. So far, so good, almost identical to the giro transfer I am used to doing with my European accounts. Here is where it gets interesting, though: In case the customer does not have the recipient’s account and routing number, he may instead use his or her mailing address. The bank then prints and mails a paper check, free of charge for either party. It takes about a week to arrive.
When i discovered this service I started toying around with it. First thing I did was to send Molly one Cent:
Afterwards, I sent more of them to almost everybody whose US address I happened to have. Molly never cashed the check, though. So a couple of days ago I received an email from the bank telling me that they were returning the Cent to me since the check hadn’t been cashed:
Payee (Payee Nickname): Molly
Payment Amount: $0.01
Payment Send On Date: 10/11/2011
If you did not place a stop payment request on this item, there are several possible reasons for the credit:
– Is your payee account name and number correct?
– Is the mailing address entered for this payee correct?
– Was the payment made over 90 days ago? (Checks not cashed within 90 days are automatically credited back to your account.)
– Has your account with the payee been closed or does it have a credit balance?
Before scheduling additional payments to this payee, you may want to match the information entered on your payee list with your most recent statement from this payee and make any necessary corrections. Or contact your payee for the specific reason for this returned payment.
Please select “Contact Us” from the top of any Bill Pay screen to send us an email if you have any questions or need further assistance. Or, you may call one of our Bill Pay Specialists anytime at 1-800-956-4442.
Bill Pay Customer Service
Effectively, this means that I got so send her a letter for free. The amount of content is limited to one line. In this first check I hadn’t figured out how to write content into it yet, though. Here’s another one I sent to Scott.
Another one was altered and then returned to me by the stickerdude:
All in all, I must say that I really liked this feature;-) I wish German bank had this, too;-)