Thursday, January 5, 2006

Commissary privileges now revoked for writing nonsufficient funds checks

Fort Detrick Commissary patrons who write checks that are returned to the store will now have their check writing privileges at commissaries worldwide suspended for 60 days. The policy is a part of the Defense Commissary Agency's Return Check Program and went into effect at the Fort Detrick store Dec. 1.

Non-sufficient funds checks are now routed to a processing site that specializes in returned check management. The contractor that operates the site will attempt to collect the returned check from the check writer's bank. The 60-day suspension begins once the returned check is sent to the contractor.

If the business is unable to obtain the funds, then the check is forwarded to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service or the U.S. Treasury Department for collection.

In the past, returned checks were routed back to the commissary, and store officials were required to contact the check writer and collect the funds.

"We had to send a letter (to the customer), the customer had to come in or physically send us the money, plus they would be assessed a $25 fee," said Rob Cauffman, the Fort Detrick Commissary store director.

"They no longer have to come in and pay for returned checks in person," he said.

He referred to the old policy as an "an administrative burden," which required his administrative assistant and staff to send letters to patrons who wrote returned checks, and to collect funds.

"Those clerks will now be focusing on other customer services," said Cauffman.

"The new system allows us to use those resources in other productive manners," he added. "It's long overdue."

Notices announcing the new policy were posted in the commissary and exchange, as required by the policy.

In the event of a documented bank error, Headquarters DeCA/RCM will remove the customer from the negative check database upon receipt of bank notification. It is the customer's responsibility to obtain the bank notification and provide it to DeCA.

Returned checks will be forwarded directly to DFAS-Columbus for action. DFAS will continue to collect the face value of the check, the $25.00 DeCA fee and the $15.00 DFAS fee.

Questions can be addressed to the agency's customer service liaisons, Judy Blair or J.D. Littman, toll free at 1-866-893-5015. Questions can also be e-mailed to judy.blair@deca.mil, john.littman @deca.mil or rcmprogram@deca.mil.

Customers may also contact HQ DeCA/RCM, between 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday for further clarification.

--Defense Commissary Agency