Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The $750 Pizza? Not Quite!

Ordering Delivery Pizza is not a very smart way to spend money.   Writing a bad check is even dumber.

The idiot media is at it again - another "victim" of corporate greed is being fleeced by Dominos, after he bounced a check.  It is one of those "um, not quite" stories, once you scratch the surface.  What the story fails to report is this:

1.  No one put a gun to his head and said "order a pizza" - paying $20 for a pizza is a bad economic decision, particularly when you are broke.  $20 buys a lot of groceries, but it does involve you getting up off the couch.

2.  Never write checks that will bounce - and this means monitoring your balance daily, particularly if it is low - and never letting it get that low in the first place.  And if it gets low - stop writing checks!

3.  Bouncing a check is a crime - when you bounce a check it is not a "Whoops! My bad! Give me a do-over!" kind of thing.  It is check fraud, plain and simple,  You can go to jail for writing bad checks, so just don't do it.

4.  There are real costs associated in collecting bad check debt.  The bank charges the company you bounced the check to, a fee.  In addition, the company then has to chase you down and get you to pay, which costs money.  In this case, asking for a $20 fee for a bounced check is reasonable.  While a notice was sent to this slacker's girlfriend's house, he claims to never have received it (what, she throws away his mail?  He never heard of mail forwarding - a free service of the USPS?).
5.  If you don't make good on your checks, the person you bounced the check to, can take you to court.  This costs a minimum of $500 or so in Attorney's fees (cheap attorney!) and court costs.  So if they send you a notice of a bounced check, get on it right away and make restitution, or the costs will escalate exponentially - and you could face criminal charges.  Always great, too, when they do that background check when you apply for a job!

But we are supposed to believe that this guy is a victim here, and that mean old Dominoes is making out like a bandit.  But clearly, the slacker in the story is to blame, and not anyone else.

And no, Domino's doesn't "make money" from bounced checks - in fact that would likely be illegal.  They do, however, incur a lot of expenses.  And they have two choices - just forget about the now $40 that they have lost (which most smaller retailer do - a lot) and put that person's name on a "bad check list" - or take them to court and get their money back.

Since they recoup their court costs and Attorney's fees going the second route, it doesn't hurt to try it.  And likely the Attorney involved is working on a contingency fee basis.  And unless the check is completely fake, it is not hard to track people down, get them to pay, and get your money back.  So you can't blame them for getting paid the money they are owed.

And yea, it sets an example for the rest of the slackers out there - Don't bounce checks.

But no, we are lead to believe that the check-bouncing slacker is the "victim" here, and that he's entitled to a free Pizza that cost Domino's $40 of grief - because he claims he isn't getting his mail from his girlfriend (not ex-girlfriend, girlfriend.  Since when does your girlfriend not give you your mail?).

Sorry - no sale!

But there is another undercurrent to this story - perhaps a sinister one.  The moral of the story that some might take away is "Writing checks is dangerous and expensive!" and thus encourage people to use credit cards or debit cards instead.  And perhaps there are some in the banking industry who would prefer this sort of arrangement.

But the bottom line is, the laws regarding bounced checks have not changed in the last 50 years, and if you are going to write a check, make sure it doesn't bounce - because the only person to blame if it does is you and only you.  Not the pizza guy, not the banks, not the courts or the lawyers, or "the man".


End of story!