Backstory: I attend the University of Toronto, and thus I have a health care insurance plan through them. The way it works is, I get a prescription from my doctor, pick up and pay for the medication myself, then send my receipt to Green Shield (the insurance company), who in turn send me a check for me to cash/deposit/etc. Now, U of T and Green Shield are both wonderful and amazing in their service, and this bad_service is with Royal Bank.
Now, I bank with an institution that charges absolutely nothing for its services (be it ordering checks, debit transactions, savings accounts, etc), but the downsides are 1. There are no physical “banks” I can go to in order to do my banking (everything has to be done through ATMs and online/phone banking), and 2. It takes a very long time (usually 5 business days) for the amount deposited from checks to appear on my account.
A while back I receive my check from Green Shield, and it came up to around $37. I was short for money at the time and I figure that I didn’t really want to wait 5 days to get $37. The institution shown on the check said Royal Bank, and there was a Royal Bank about 5 minutes walk from my house, and so off to Royal Bank I went.
I first dealt with a young man who seemed a bit unfamiliar with the system (probably new, doesn’t bother me at all), and so he pawned me off to a composed and professional-looking woman. This seemingly polite lady, upon learning that I am not a regular banker with Royal Bank, immediately took an attitude with me. Her smile faded, her warm demeanor disappeared, and she demanded several pieces of ID (which is expected, since I don’t bank with them).
I take out my driver’s license and health card, both official ID documents issued by the Ontario government. She stares at my IDs for a while, not saying anything, and surveys them as if though they stank of poo.
“I’m going to need more IDs, these are not enough,” She says.
I am taken a bit by surprise, but don’t think much of it. I produce my SIN (Social Insurance Number) card. She then surveys them in a similar manner, while interrogating me on why I do not have a financial institution:
Clerk: “You could not take this to your own bank? You don’t have a bank of your own?”
Me: “I do, and I could, but it takes 5 days for the check to clear, and I don’t want to wait that long for $40.”
Clerk: “If you want to cash this check here, you should have an account with us, otherwise you should go to your own bank.”
Now, for those who don’t know me, I avoid confrontation like the plague. I simply hate displeasing people and directly confronting them about it. By this point I am very angry and annoyed, but I decide to remain calm (plus I had somewhere else to be). After about 5 minutes of fidgeting on the computer and completely ignoring me, she decides that my IDs are valid, and that my check is good, and lets out a heavy sigh and starts the transaction.
“The computer is not letting me do this,” She says.
That is not my fault, I think to myself, and say nothing more but “huh” to her.
She continues to type on her computer, while repeating that it is not working for her, and that she cannot find the account of Green Shield. I really didn’t know why she was telling me this over and over again, but okay.
“This is probably not a valid account,” She remarks, while peering at me over the top of her glasses. The temptation of punching her in the face is incredibly large, but I decide to leave it alone. I was patiently waiting and trying to not get annoyed, when I am suddenly left in stunned silence as she just gets up and walks away.
“Err,” I think. And I am beginning to reconsider punching her in the face. She walks to a phone located about 4 or 5 meters behind the counter, and starts speaking on it, while offering no explanation of what she is doing or why she walked away. I decided that I’ve had it with this place, and wanted to leave. But she has my check as well as my IDs under the counter where I could not reach them, so I was pretty much stuck there until she finished her phone call.
After a bit of giggling and eye-rolling on the phone, she hangs up and comes back, and again sits down and starts typing without acknowledging me.
“I’d like my IDs back, please,” I say.
“It’s working now,” She says.
My un-confrontational habit kicks in again, and I consider that I’ve been there for about 20 minutes at this point, so might as well wait a little longer and not let the 20mins go to waste. Little did I know, it was far from over (I sincerely apologize, dear readers. I know it’s gotten dangerously close to the TL;DR point.)
“Sign the back of the check,” She oh-so-politely requests.
I sign it with my first and last names. She flips my SIN card over and a sudden expression of achievement dawns on her face, and I realize that my signature on my SIN card was from 4 years ago (I was still in high school, and my signature composed of hearts and stars and other things that I am quite ashamed of at my current age. Needless to say, I never used that signature again, and currently use my “big person” signature). Instead of politely telling me that the signatures did not match, she simply lays my ID and the check side by side, and points to them sequentially while looks at me as if though she just caught the criminal of the century. That look that snobby teachers or bosses give you when they think they’ve caught you doing something you’re not supposed to. Yes, I am trying to cheat this other person out of $40. I am oh-so-smart.
I end up explaining the above to her, and after producing another ID with my current signature on it, as well as signing the check again with my old signature (complete with silly things. Very humiliating), she springs out with this gem:
“The fee for cashing a check, for non Royal-Bank customers, is $5.”
Me: “But it’s a $40 check. And isn’t Green-Shield one of your customers, and part of their service involves cash-checking?”
Clerk: “That’s what always happens; I have to charge you $5.”
Me: “On a $40 check?”
Me: “Please give me back my check. I do not wish to complete this transaction any more.” (Woohoo, mustering up some courage!)
Clerk: “I’ll waive it for you this time, but just so you know, you have to pay the $5 next time.”
Me: (thinking: wtf? If you’re going to waive it for me why are you still going on about it?) “Thanks, but there won’t be a next time. I’d rather wait 5 days for my money.”
I then take my measly $36.97 from her and leave with a resolution to never, ever set foot in any Royal Bank (or at least that particular one) ever, ever again. Even though my own bank makes me wait 5 days, at least they want people to bank with them, and I won’t get elitist crap like that. Ugh.