A bank teller gave me too much money and then harassed me until I returned it

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I always went to the bank for my parents on Friday mornings. My father ran a small business, and I helped by depositing checks and making cash withdrawals for him as needed.

One week, I went to the bank just as I had every Friday morning for years. This time, I handed the bank teller several checks to cash and waited for her to complete my transaction. She tallied up the checks and gave me the total before handing over the cash.

"I'm sorry," I said. "That's not the amount I got when I added them at home. You're two-hundred dollars off."

"Well," she huffed. "My total is the correct total. I used an adding machine."

I shrugged. "Okay," I said. While I was reasonably sure she was incorrect, she was doubly sure that she was right. I didn't want to argue with the woman; she already seemed agitated.

I watched as she counted up the money before handing it to me. The amount she gave me matched the total she'd gotten when she tallied up the checks. It was two hundred dollars more than the total I'd gotten when I added the checks at home, but as I said, she seemed convinced she was right.

"Okay," I said again. "And you're sure that's correct?"

"I'm positive," she replied. She seemed miffed.

"Okay," I said a third time. I took the money, told her to have a nice day, stuffed the money in my wallet, and left the bank. I had other errands to run, and I wouldn't be home for hours.

The bank didn't have my cellphone number because I didn't have a cellphone. If they wanted to reach me, they would have to call my landline and leave a message like it was the twentieth century. As it turned out, that's exactly what the bank teller did.

By the time I arrived home, there were at least a dozen progressively angrier phone calls on my answering machine.

"This is the teller from the bank," she said, referring to both herself and the bank by name. "You were right. Just like you told me while you were here, my calculations were two hundred dollars off in your favor."

The bank teller enunciated the words "in your favor" as if that was the only reason there was a problem. She said it as if it would have been okay to short me the two hundred bucks.

"Could you return the money immediately?" the message continued. She gave me the hours of the bank branch, disconnected, and then called to leave identical messages until my answering machine was unable to accept another one

She couldn't say I didn't warn her. I needed to start dinner, so I did. My plan was to get back to the bank just as soon as possible to return the cash. Since they were open until 8 p.m., I didn't see much reason to rush. The money was perfectly safe with me.

The phone rang again while I was cooking dinner. On the first ring, I answered it. I never wanted that extra two-hundred bucks in the first place. I just hadn't gotten around to double-checking my records. Besides, I'd told her twice she was wrong before I walked out the door.

"I'd like to have the money back now," she told me on the phone.

"Sure," I replied. "I'll be right there as soon as I finish cooking dinner."

She called back so many times that I stopped answering the phone.

When I was good and ready, I drove back to the bank and returned the money. It was far earlier than the bank's 8 p.m. closing time. So I still think I did pretty well.

Some customers wouldn't have returned the money at all. How can I be so sure about that? It's easy. I worked as a bank teller for five years myself. So I've been on both sides of the table.

What do you think? Would you have demanded a recount/re-tally of the checks before you left the bank in the first place? If you went home with the extra money, would you return it at your leisure or drop everything and rush back to the bank ASAP?

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