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Small Business Problem: Advertiser Bounced a Check!

I’ve encountered my first small business dilemma. Actually, it involves one of the advertisers on this site!

Bounced Check

I received a check from an advertiser and cashed it on Saturday, June 7. On Friday, I got a letter from my bank that the money had been reversed and the check was unpaid.

NSF Fee. Here’s the mistake on my part – I was keeping the checking account at a zero balance and moving all the money to the savings account to earn interest. When they reversed the check, my account went negative, so my bank charged a fee to move some of the savings account money back to the checking account.

Ironically, I would never run my personal checking account down to zero; I’m not sure why I was running the business account any differently. I mistakenly put more trust into business customers.

Who was the advertiser?

I debated about whether or not to name the company that bounced the check. Then I thought of one of my favorite barbecue restaurants which posts unpaid checks on the wall. So here’s the first check to hang on my wall: the bounced check was from Text Link Ads [1].

For any of you that are publishers and use them as an advertiser, keep a close eye on your checks!

What I Learned

(and probably what I should have already known!) If you run your own small business, unfortunately it’s probably likely that you might have to deal with a bounced check from a customer. Learn from my mistakes:

Keep money in your account. Keep a minimum amount in your business checking account to cover reversed checks. I was under the impression that with the Check 21 [2] law, the check would be verified immediately. Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity [3] informed me that “it’s not always immediate verification, even with check21.” Thanks Jim!

Establish a returned check fee. Our company has now implemented a $25 returned check fee to cover our costs.

What’s the Status?

I immediately called and sent an email to the company on Friday, and have yet to hear back what’s going on…

Update: On Tuesday afternoon, Bill Fish, a Co-Founder of Text Link Ads left this comment:

We sincerely apologize for the issue you encountered with your publisher check from Text Link Ads. Unfortunately, our headquarters in lower Manhattan was crippled with network outages at the end of last week. Due to the overwhelming amount of check fraud, we are forced to submit an electronic form with all check information to our bank each day. Due to the network outage, the form was not received for one day, and some checks were returned. I will have one of our representatives follow up with you immediately, and we will reissue the check as well as the applicable fees you might have been charged by the bank. Again, we greatly apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you for being a publisher of Text Link Ads.

I received an email from one of the representatives who has offered to send a replacement check and refund our bank fees.