Get Out of Debt Guy

I Sent Macy's a Check But They Want More

Posted September 4, 2013

Dear Steve,

In March 2013, I purchased $74.98 with a brand new Macy's Star Rewards card. They sent a statement, I paid the full amount, on time, in their enclosed envelope. They claim they never got the check and pressured me to pay by credit card over the phone. Since they had called me, I declined.

Then they sent me to a series of credit collection agencies. I maintain I paid them on time and they should open the envelope with my check in it.

I've checked with my bank, the check has not cleared.

Now the Macy's balance that started at $74.98 is $215.67, all from fees and interest. What should I do?

Matilda

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Dear Matilda,

Thank you for reaching out to me for help.

It's likely you never ran into this problem before and thus didn't quite know how to handle it.

Even though you wrote a check and sent it off to Macy's, the fact they never recorded it is not their fault unless you have proof of delivery.

Mail gets damaged, lost, shredded, or mis-delivered on a daily basis and never reaches the intended recipient. If you owe a creditor, your responsibility is not just to put the check in the mail, but to make sure it was cashed by the creditor.

If the creditor shows no record of receiving the payment and the check has not been cashed you would either need to make a payment an alternative way, like over the phone, or put a stop payment on the original check and send another.

I'd love to be in your corner on this one but it's a costly lesson learned. Not only do you owe the $215.67 but it might have already been reported as a delinquent account on your credit report. That can lower your credit score and lead to more expensive credit in the short term.

I'd suggest you pay the amount due to the collection company as soon as possible and consider this a costly lesson.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Steve Rhode
WRAL Get Out of Debt Guy

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  • rachel Sep 8, 2013

    This should have been handled way before that much was tacked on in late fees. After writing checks, I always check that it went through my account within a few days. If I had discovered it had not, I would have issued a stop payment and sent another check immediately-the account would have incurred maybe only one late charge, but it would never have gotten to collections and possibly reported poorly to the credit bureau.

About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.