Local News

Some Upset By Bank's New Check-Cashing Fee For Non-Customers

Posted December 3, 2004 9:39 a.m. EST

— Service fees at banks are no big surprise, but a new fee has employees at a popular Raleigh hot dog stand upset.

"Every week I cash my check with no problem," said Greg Poole, a Snoopy's employee.

That was until this week when he was charged $5 by First Citizens Bank.

"I'm used to cashing my check and walking out," he said.

Poole, who does not have a checking account, uses First Citizens because that is where Snoopy's banks and where the checks are drawn.

"That's $5 in gas money," Poole said. "You know how gas prices are these days."

The restaurant's owners are not happy, either.

"It didn't seem fair to be charging employees on our accounts in our bank," co-owner Troy Beal said.

First Citizens said the policy makes business more efficient. Plus, other banks charge similar fees.

Of the 11 banks WRAL called, only two charge non-customers to cash a check that originates from their bank. Bank of America charges $5 and Central Carolina Bank charges $3. Wachovia will start charging non-customers $5 in February.

"It just seems like an unfair policy against lower-income families," Beal said. "If this is something that's not going to be reversed, then we don't have any choice but to pull all our accounts."

First Citizens Bank said anyone can cash checks for free by setting up a free checking account. The bank said customers were warned well in advance about the $5 charge.