Yesterday at work we received a notice from Chase that they had placed a hold on a pair of checks we had deposited. Under "Hold Reason" it states "the deposited checks are not consistent with the account's normal deposit activity." The hold period is 9 -- count 'em, 9 -- days! Further, it states that "If the checks you deposited are paid, we will be happy to refund any Chase overdraft or Chase returned check fees directly caused by this deposit hold."
Okay, so let's take this a bit at a time.
First of all, the deposit is no different than many of the deposits we have been making for years. They are checks from our largest customer, one of the biggest construction firms in the world. It is not unusual at all for us to receive a check of six figures from them.
Second, nine days?! Who are they kidding? Do they expect us to believe they are waiting for an armored truck to arrive at the branch with a pile of cash?
Finally, they "will be happy to refund any Chase overdraft or Chase returned check fees caused by this deposit hold." What about fees charged by one of our vendors if Chase bounces a check we've written, expecting this money to be available? I guess they don't think they are responsible if we were foolish enough to try to spend the money in fewer than nine days.
Banks have always played games with the "float," that period between the time you deposit a check and the time they credit it to your account. It's no longer the property of whoever wrote the check but it isn't yours yet either. For whatever that limbo period is, it belongs to the banks (and, obviously, they decide how long the period is).
In the pre-computer days, it would take longer for an out-of-state check to clear than a local one. Not so any more. Millions of dollars are transferred all over the world with a couple of keystrokes every minute of every day, but the banks still insist that it takes days to collect the money. And, as a result, every time we deposit a check, we are making an interest-free loan to the banks.
So, if this is one of the games the banks play and it's right under our noses, one can only imagine what else they are doing where we can't see them.