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The Target Experience

Posted by dadoes (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 21, 07 at 22:20

My mother went shopping recently at Target in a nearby town. Mom loaded a shopping cart with a Bunn coffee maker and some other items, totaling $194. Upon attempting to pay by personal check, the check was rejected. The cashier said the reason is listed on the "slip" but nothing useful was on it. Mom questioned further and asked for a manager. Far as I understand, she was put on a courtesy phone and connected to the check verification service. They explained the rejection was for no other reason than that more than a year had passed since the last time Mom wrote a check to Target! The verification service had already picked up another she wrote earlier in the day at a different store, and said there was also some suspicion of identity theft, which is ridiculous, she had a photo ID (driver license). She could have paid by credit card or by check on their joint account (unless that would also been rejected, who knows) but on principle and due to irritation and embarrassment, she told the casher to keep the merchandise, if they don't want to make a $194 sale then she doesn't need it, and left the store.

She called the check service again the next day to question them further, asking what other stores do they handle, where else can she expect to run into rejections. The service said she can send them more identification details for their records to get around the problem of not having much check-writing activity. She asked what kind of identity theft risk is involved in that, they answered that they haven't had any trouble thus far. She said "Well, I'm certainly having trouble with you now!" and ended the call.

All you folks out there in THS-land might keep this incident in mind the next time you consider shopping at Target!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The Target Experience

I have a debit card, and since then (1988) I've never written a check in a store. Too much hassle for myself and everyone behind me. I don't even carry a checkbook. I've always wondered why anyone would go through all the trouble of writing a check when every checking account comes with a debit card anyway. Just IMHO.


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RE: The Target Experience

I just avoid Target. To much cheap hippy junk.

And what's a check? Is that what those paper things the bank sent me are?


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RE: The Target Experience

No need for snippy remarks about writing checks vs. using debit cards. That's not the point, is it? Far as I'm aware, my parents do not have a debit card on either account anyway. *I* do use my debit card ... BUT when I did write checks at stores I made it a point to fill out everything except the amount while waiting in line. I know many people don't, I've been in line behind them, but that also isn't the point here.

Or maybe it is.

Excuse me for starting this thread. My bad.


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RE: The Target Experience

I have Two thoughts here first you are absolutely right, there was no reason to reject her check. My hunch is that about a week after the one she wrote earlier in the day clears without problems she will suddenly be on the check services Good List. At that point she should call again or write a letter to the President of their company. The reality is she should have every expectation that her checks are good and should be treated accordingly. I have not written a check in a store in well over 20 years either but I would think I should not have a problem if I wanted to do it at Target or anyplace else

Having said that I could not imagine actually doing that, I do everything online, by debit card or credit card. Even 10 years ago I never understood why other women carried those wallets that had space for your checkbook. Different philosophies. Plus now you no longer have the float on checks, I read something online that now the merchant can scan in your check and it gets credited instantly (all the more reason they should be able to tell it is good)

Assuming I used checks I probably would have done the same thing as your mother. If she insists on using checks then she really should follow up with the service and give them a what for

Personally what I hate about Target is their receipts expire and they will not take things back when they would have been willing to the day before. It is ridiculous, either the merchandise is good or it is not. Supposedly if you pay by credit card they can track it but I have had them not be able to. As opposed to Lord & Taylor where they were able to swipe my Amex and get the purchase price and the return was credited immediately


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RE: The Target Experience

If you lose a debit card ... better transfer balance in account to a new account, like **immediately**.

And often you may not realize that you've lost it, right away.

Much better possibility of having fraudulent transactions reversed with a"credit" (read "debt") card.

Research shows that buying using plastic almost always results in higher levels of purchasing.

Which suits the stores just fine.

ole joyful


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RE: The Target Experience

Welcome to the wonderful world of check-authorization services.

My understanding is that they capture pretty much the same information as the credit bureaus, but without any of the consumer-protection legislation in force. So, for example, you have a legal right to find out what information any credit bureau has about you, but I do not believe you have that right for check-clearing services. I do not even think you have the right to force them to correct errors in your file.

For that reason, the only reason I would ever buy something from a retailer by check would be if the retailer refuses to accept credit cards, or offers me a discount for paying by check--which some of them do.

Ditto for debit cards: There are consumer protections for credit-card purchases that debit cards do not share. For that reason, I have never used a debit card for anything other than withdrawing cash from an ATM (at a bank that does not charge me a fee for the privilege). Instead, I use credit cards and pay off the balance every month.


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RE: The Target Experience

I mostly use credit cards too and of course pay them off. However we have had our share of annoyances with both recently. Several months ago DH had a substantial bill on a card he uses for business. The card was owned by a bank and he paid at the ATM machine using Two checks. Although they cashed both they only credited him for one. This was in August. It took until February to totally get our account straigtened out. It was fine and they waived all fees but meanwhile it was frustrating. We spent at least an hour on the phone.

Now I have an issue with a debit card where I used it over the phone recently (I know my bad!) and I thought it registed to my business but they ahd my home address on file so the merchant kept trying to put the card through. I have now paid Twice for the same item! So will have to get that straightened out. Fortunately I bank online so saw it happen immediately

I hear you on Debit cards not having the same protections


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RE: The Target Experience

Not to hijack the thread, but there is something else about debit cards that not everyone may be aware of.
(I use debit cards almost exclusively for my shopping).

A while back, I bought gas at an Arco station and paid with a debit card. A few days later, my bank informed me that several checks I had written had bounced. Now there was more than enough money in the account to pay for the gas and to cover the checks. What had happened was that Arco had put a $100 hold on my checking account until the debit had gone through. Ridiculous, but true. Because of that $100 hold, there was not enough money to clear the checks. It was a huge hassle getting it all straightened out. I will never buy gas at Arco again.


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RE: The Target Experience

I wrote a check at Target just last week.... I had been using the CC for ages, but didn't want to this time.
The check went through with no problems...

Sounds like the OP's problem is with the check verification system and NOT Target!


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RE: The Target Experience

Sounds like the OP's problem is with the check verification system and NOT Target!

Agreed. I could see the check service coming back to the cashier and asking for more ID or such, but rejecting the check outright was not Target's decision, it was the check service's.

My mom is of the age at which using cards is not automatic. She writes checks everywhere. Apparently she writes enough at Target that even the big ones are not a problem. But there are other stores (sometimes even different locations of the same chain!) where she has problems writing checks because of a lack of history of writing checks at that location. I haven't yet persuaded her that using the card more might make life simpler. Maybe in her mind, it doesn't.


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RE: The Target Experience

Nope. It's Target's policy. The same verification service handles another store where my Mom writes checks frequently with no trouble. I have been informed via another forum that Target's policy is that checks above a certain (high) amount are not accepted unless the customer has a history of writing at least one check of $50 (or less? or more, but less than the trigger-amount?) per month, for the past 6-month period. That's goofy. A person could write/cover those $50 checks, then come up with one for $500 and not have funds to cover it but Target would still take the bum $500 check because the history conditional is satisfied.

zone_8Grandma, that's true about debit cards, and also credit cards. Being as there's no way to know how much gasoline will be pumped until the deed is done, a "hold" is put on the debit card when it's scanned to start the transaction (or an authorization on a credit card) for a specific amount that's higher than the "average" sale, to confirm there's at least that much cash or credit available. I imagine with gasoline prices what they are nowadays, the hold amount has increased accordingly.


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RE: The Target Experience

I am an admitted check writer. My bank recently was bought out by another bank and the next 10 checks I wrote at the Safeway had to be approved by the management (which they gladly did as I have been a constant customer for over 30 years). What a pain! And now the bank has been bought by yet another company...


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RE: The Target Experience

"Nope. It's Target's policy. The same verification service handles another store where my Mom writes checks frequently with no trouble. I have been informed via another forum that Target's policy is that checks above a certain (high) amount are not accepted unless the customer has a history of writing at least one check of $50 (or less? or more, but less than the trigger-amount?) per month, for the past 6-month period."

Well, I just bought $250+ of stuff and paid by check... and as I stated above, I usually use credit cards.
None of the conditions you mentioned kicked in.

Must be more than meets the eye....


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RE: The Target Experience

Makes me want to go try it! Nah not worth the aggravation of carrying checks or using them but I am curious. Since I have not written out a check to a store in 20 years I wonder if it will work


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RE: The Target Experience

I have never had a Debit Card because of the lack of protections. I did have an ATM card, but it has been missing for several years. DH still has his, so he will go to a local money machine to "buy" me some money if I need it. Generally, I am the one with the cash, since I (alert: beware of antiquities ahead!) GET PAID WITH PAPER CHECKS at both of my jobs! I actually go to the bank at least every-other week. Well, I am in their parking lot most of the time, I do use the drive-through.

I don't carry a checkbook with me. We spent 14 months still using checks with our old address on them until recently. No one had trouble with it, since they were always sent in to pay our bills. So, I guess I didn't use the checkbook in stores for all those months.

My friend and I took her dog to the emergency vet a few weeks back. My friend paid with what cash she had, then tried to pay the rest with a check. They rejected it, and since it was Saturday at midnight, said to call the check-checking service on Monday for an explaination. Since I had deposited my paycheck and gotten some spending money withheld the day before, I had the cash to help her out. Her dog would not have had the testing it needed without the prepayment, so I was happy I was there.


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RE: The Target Experience

I think that, these days, even USING a check may be a red flag. To me it means somebody is trying to "float" until the next payday. When I use my debit card at the store, the amount shows up online against my checking account the same day.

Sounds like I should avoid Arcos. When I buy gas a $1 hold is placed against my debit card for about a day, then the actual amount shows. I believe the $1 thing is more the rule for gas station purchases.


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RE: The Target Experience

Several of the gas stations around here have posted signs saying that they're not the ones placing the holds, and that it's entirely up to your bank how much money is tied up in the transaction (my bank just holds a buck). Interesting that it was apparently the store in the case. Guess I'll stick to the gas stations with the signs.


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RE: The Target Experience

"I think that, these days, even USING a check may be a red flag. To me it means somebody is trying to "float" until the next payday."

Good grief!
I have been writing checks for over 35 years... never bounced one, never any fees. Never floated a check.
There is NO reason to consider my check writing a red flag. Checks to local merchants clear in a day or two... not much longer than your debit card.


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RE: The Target Experience

A local gas station had a sign saying they held 75 so it may not be the bank


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RE: The Target Experience

Like it or not, banks and stores are looking forward to the day when smart cards and credit cards are used by everyone. Don't say "never me!" since the Gen X and Y generations coming up will eventually view checks the same way they view LP records (yeah, I still have some, LOL!).

Quite a bit of fraud is perpetrated with stolen checks 'wiped clean' with a bit of nail polish remover. And photo IDs are so easy to fake these days, there's no protection there.

It's a shame your mom ran into a hassle, but I'm afraid that realistically, retailers are more aimed at the credit card generations because yes, they know that people indeed spend more when they use plastic than cash or checks.

My husband has a habit of asking me when we're going out, "Have you got the checkbook?" I just shrug and say, "Look, if they can't take debit or credit card, honey, I'm not doing business with them!"


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RE: The Target Experience

Everyone please note what jkom51 said.

Retailers and the credit card industry know very well that, though many users deny it up, down and sideways ...

... when people buy stuff using plastic ... they spend more.

They spend more.

They spend more.

End of story.

ole joyful


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RE: The Target Experience

So true! Plastic = more money spent. I've never used a debit card. When I get the ATM/Debit cards, I call the company. I do NOT have to activate the card to use only for ATM. If I want the DebitCard benefit (benefit to WHO?!!!), THEN I must activate.
I don't know about 'today', but debitcards have always had less protection than creditcards.
I DO swipe credit cards on occasion, but I don't have problem writing checks or paying cash either. (I actually STILL can write out a check faster than swiping a card thru that machine - because I rarely do that!)

Last time I checked - cash, checks, credit cards, debit cards, money orders and cashiers' checks all ALL viable forms of payment.
A store should not deny any of these forms of payment.
And, I don't care if I'm holding up a line because I CHOOSE a different pay method. (I, too, make out the check in advance while I'm standing in line - except for the amount)

But big deal. Just because someone uses a check is no reason to get your feathers all in a ruffle. Maybe some don't feel comfy with plastic. Maybe they KNOW plastic causes them to spend more. MAYBE...they don't even OWN plastic!

I would have done exactly what the OP's Mother did, and left with nothing. (And, I've actually done that.) It is totally rediculous to deny a check. I only shop about 2 times a year, and when I DO, I buy a LOT of stuff to hopefully last for a long time. (Stocking up)

With all the examples expressed - My conclusion is "Corporate Greed". (Oooo- not to open a can of worms or anything) They want your money "right now" - not tomorrow. PLUS, they want to put hold on 'more' of your money...ummmm, I think that benefits the bank - one more day of interest gained to benefit the bank?!!!

I saw something recently (which I already knew - but made it solid)...Retailers LOVE to track your spending habits. So do many others - like law enforcement, etc. If you pay by check or cash, they can't track so well. If you pay with plastic, they have it all! I personally don't think it's anyones' business what brand of toilet paper I buy and how often.
I'm trying to go back to cash or checks. It might take some time. But, for starters, I can divide my purchases and pay part with cash or check, and part with plastic.

And...I don't care if I hold up a line for an additional 30 seconds!

OK - I think I'm done with my rant for the night! LOL!


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RE: The Target Experience

No checks huh?

Well it will be pretty hard to py the daycare center each week unless they put in a credit card machine in place of the little metal box with the slot in the top! And I'm not paying them in cash.

School lunch? Sorry, no credit cards. Send in a check

I don't write many but I do write them!


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RE: The Target Experience

Target uses a check validation that was used at the insurance company I work for with over the phone check transactions. It uses the drivers license number to validate identity. If the drivers license number had recently been changed it would be declined.

Many states have recently changed drivers license formats.


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RE: The Target Experience

I still use checks, as well. Don't know how those of you who don't manage? Just today, I wrote a check to the builder who's finishing out our garage. It was either a check or cash but certainly not a debit card. I live in a small village with lots of Mom/Pop shops. They don't take plastic...so I write checks. My cleaning lady doesn't take plastic either & I don't always have enough cash. Same with the piano teacher. Anyway, I'm amazed that some don't write checks anymore.

I'm a genealogist & my DH & I take frequent grave searching expeditions. On this particular trip...we started in NH, went to the northern most part of Vermont, headed down through MA, & then on to Pennsylvania returning through the southern tip of NY. We made this trip is just 4 days. We made purchases along the way with a credit card. In PA, at a gas stop our credit card was denied. We're both bankers so we weren't worried...knew why but still had to call the service. They said that they were concerned that our card had been snatched since we hadn't used it in a few months & purchases had been made in several states in just a few days. No problem. We were GLAD they were being attentive. As bankers, we're aware of the fraud that's happening. You just wouldn't believe how bad it's gotten. Not a week goes by without some new fraud scheme being detected at the bank. Our bank (and employer) has instigated new online protections that are almost onerous to use but I'm sure it will only become more so. We've stopped using online banking & DH IS EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT! They try so hard to keep everybody safe but these fraud rings are getting very, very sophisticated. So many of the scams are coming out of eastern Europe. Somebody can steal your plastic (or just the number) here in the US & within 45 minutes an exact copy of your debit or credit card has been made in some place like the Chech Republic, & is being used in France that evening to purchase a diamond necklace...and that's no joke. You have my very best wishes for a speedy recovery.

For those of you who rely on plastic to handle your finances...take every single precaution you can & still be concerned enough to pay close attention. Also, be familar with bank liability (or, the lack thereof) in the event a fraud scheme manages to find you. It's not their fault somebody gets a hold of your number & they're not always responsible.

Tricia


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RE: The Target Experience

Cash or plastic, never checks unless there is no choice. I write less than 20 checks a year and that is only because I have a bunch of kids in school, so lots of book orders and things. I once spent 6 months without reodering checks and I was completely out the entire time


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RE: The Target Experience

Neither my mother (nor father, deceased) has ever had a credit card. Doesn't know what a debit card is. They have never had a loan for anything. Nothing. Came here from Europe in 1953 and worked in factories. Saved saved saved. Bought a fixer upper cash, rented out half, dad worked on side jobs. 12 years later, bought a lot, built a house, doing a lot of the work himself. Bartered his plastering experience for other work. European craftsman quality but nothing fancy. My 83 yr old mother still lives there and drives to errands and still writes checks. No big ones very often. I do not think that she should have to go through anything like what the OP's mother did.
The manager or someone at Target ought to have the authority to override verification service.
Quickly. She can't stand or walk very long at her age.
My favorite farm supply store doesn't take credit or debit cards which is fine by me. Neither does my favorite Hardware store. I also have to use checks to pay for repairman, contractors etc.
I don't like the implied feelings here that - "oh well I'm young, modern and shop in malls so everyone else should too"


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RE: The Target Experience

The manager or someone at Target ought to have the authority to override verification service.
Quickly. She can't stand or walk very long at her age.

I understand your point of view, but I suspect it's a matter of "policy" at Target -- and elsewhere. It's the same reason that grandmothers traveling from Cleveland to Grand Forks undergo the same NSA search and carry the same 3-3-1 that a really nervous-looking non-Caucasian does traveling from New York City to the Middle East. It's a policy, and, collectively, we've been unwilling to let common sense supercede equal treatment or lead to a situation in which anyone ends up to blame.

I don't like the implied feelings here that - "oh well I'm young, modern and shop in malls so everyone else should too"

I haven't gotten that feeling from this thread. I think that things change over time and that people have the choice to adapt or understand that the world will move on, likely without them. People who choose to write paper checks likely will continue to face additional requests for identification or proof that someone will pay for the goods or services if the check is not good. They can choose to take their business elsewhere, they can choose to go without that purchase, they can write letters of protest to company owners and regulatory agencies, they can choose to carry a credit or debit card. Every one of those choices does come at a cost.

I am part of a social group in which most members keep in touch between meetings with email. A couple of members complained recently that they felt "out of the loop" because they didn't have computers. It was pointed out that membership in the group didn't require owning a telephone, either, but that it has become an accepted-enough part of life now that accommodation for those without will become increasingly less visible. Group members can choose to continue to not have access to email (even for free at the library; this is not an economic issue), but they need to agree that the price of their choice is less-timely communication. I realize that probably sounds elitist, but when it's a matter of choice (not like handicapped access, etc.), it's how our society moves. Whether that movement is "forward" is open to debate, but it moves. Sometimes it takes the pain of not doing something to get people to do something.


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RE: The Target Experience

I don't shop Target anymore because of who owns them not because of check cashing issues. But about 7 years ago a teller at Publix copied my Driver's Lic number down incorrectly and check was refused. 7 years later I still can't write a check in Publix! That might be why I don't shop there.
My parents are the same as yours marys. Until my fathers death he used to say that their bank didnt know about ATM's CC etc (trust me, he did not use those words!) and that they still used a cigar box. I have given my Mom gift cards and she has never used them. I will admit when I went shopping with her recently and she pulled out her checkbook I almost fainted but when I thought about it I could not imagine her not writing a check. We buy the niece a card for her lunches and snacks and I reload that online about once a month. The only time I write a check is for things like contractors, auto repair, etc. I lost my dibit card recently but that is another thread.


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RE: The Target Experience

I think that things change over time and that people have the choice to adapt or understand that the world will move on, likely without them.

Steve o - some day you may find that the world has overtaken you and you are too old to catch up. Maybe your'll remember this coversation then, when some young thing is trying to hurry you along and your a little bit confused and don't understand exactly what to do.


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RE: The Target Experience

Steve o - some day you may find that the world has overtaken you and you are too old to catch up. Maybe your'll remember this coversation then, when some young thing is trying to hurry you along and your a little bit confused and don't understand exactly what to do.

Change -- and ever-more-rapid change, at that -- is part of our world. It is an element of our lives that our parents and grandparents didn't have to deal with the way we do.

I have been on this earth almost half a century now, and even in my lifetime things have changed a lot. Maybe it's different for me since my career is technical in nature. Maybe it's just a preference I have in embracing change and learning about new things instead of hoping things just stay the same. Maybe I know too many people in their 60s and 70s who are doing new things all the time.

Whatever it is, life is moving forward (again, I did not say it was necessarily for the better). Even if I'm not up to date on some aspect of life in the future, I certainly hope I can maintain my dignity and demand that I be treated decently. That young thing can try all (s)he wants to hurry me along. I'm the customer. I will make my choice.


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RE: The Target Experience

I want to say that the "lady" who pulled identity theft on my DD had a picture id (DL) in my DD's name, but her own picture.

So the fact that the original poster's mom had given a check earlier and used a picture ID just isn't enough to insure it is legit.


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RE: The Target Experience

Unfortunately checks are still needed for many things (daycare, contractors etc) But department stores and supermarkets are not one of them! An ATM card does the same thing as a check only quicker. Why write a check? Bored?


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RE: The Target Experience

"The manager or someone at Target ought to have the authority to override verification service."--no, they probably don't, and it doesn't have a lot to do with widespread use of debit cards. I worked in a chain retail store 15 years ago, before debit cards were in common use. We used a check verification service. As long as we followed the rules (check id, run it through the service) if a check bounced, the verification company paid it and was then responsible for recovering the loss. If we "overrode" the service, the store had to eat it. Since we were not supposed to override the service, if we did and the check bounced, it would be deducted from our paycheck. The whole point of using those services is to take that decision out of the hands of salespeople and managers who do not have the knowledge to make an informed decision. "She looks like such an honest little old lady, I'm sure the check is good" is exactly the kind of decision-making these services are there to prevent.

You can certainly argue about their reasons and results, and I'd probably complain if I were told I couldn't write a check for the reasons given, but for a store to give a manager the authority to override the service kinda defeats the whole point of using the service (which they are paying for).


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