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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I haven’t updated this topic in a while. Hoo boy.

I had attempted to send Stimulus Check #2 ($600) to my friend in the US to whom I had endorsed it. No package service would handle a check, although I had sent Stimulus Check #1 ($1200) to the same friend through Estafeta last year.

So I sent it by MexPost overnight service (525 pesos). Many weeks passed and nothing happened. I inquired and was told that the envelope had been lost. No refund of my 525 pesos was offered, however. More weeks passed, and then I was contacted and told that the envelope had been found in Mexico City.

Eventually the check WAS delivered to my friend in the US, but when he visited his bank that had accepted his deposit of endorsed Check #1 last year, they refused to accept Check #2 unless I was standing there in the bank. (Many things seem to have become much more restrictive, as a result of COVID and/or for other reasons.)

Fortunately, my friend has an account at a second bank that DID accept the check.

On receiving Stimulus Check #3 ($1400), I wanted to avoid another MexPost nightmare. So I made an inquiry at the local Santander in my new city of Tlaxcala as to whether I could open a new account there and deposit the check into it. Calls were made and executives inside the bank were consulted. The answer was “Yes.”

It took two longish visits to Santander to get the account set up (Day 1) and to complete the paperwork for an international check (Day #2). I endorsed the check. The banker stamped the check. I signed many forms.

Two weeks later, I returned to the branch to pick up the debit card for my new account. I asked about the status of the stimulus check. No problem, I was told, it’s in process and the money should appear in your account in a few days.

Today, two weeks after THAT, I visited the branch again and was told that, sorry, Santander can’t process the check after all, and it was handed back to me. No explanations. I don’t think the check ever physically left the branch; it showed no signs of further handling. Of course, no one had contacted me by phone or email about this change. The executive I had been dealing with all along did at least seem quite embarrassed to tell me all of this.

So now I suppose I’ll have to try Order Express, which was mentioned as a possibility before (and I have seen an additional reference online to their providing this service). Fingers crossed. But what an ordeal. I am not very happy with Santander at the moment, as I was not with MexPost before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
For anyone who might still have some slight interest in this saga, here is an email that I just sent to my excellent Mexican accountant:

Hello, sir! I have a financial question for my accountant.

I have a US Government paper check for $1,400 USD. This is a “stimulus check” related to the COVID pandemic.

It is difficult to cash this check here in Mexico. My bank Banorte would not handle it even though I am a customer of theirs for the last 10 years.

On a recommendation, I went to the Santander main branch in my new city of Tlaxcala, and asked if they would cash the check if I opened an account. Some phone calls were made and the answer was “Yes.”

So that day, I did the paperwork to open the account, and the next day I came back to do the paperwork for the international check. I signed the check and the bank stamped it (see attached photo). I was told that it could take up to a month to clear. That was Friday, April 30.

I picked up my debit card for the new account on Tuesday, May 11, and was told that the check was in process but that everything was fine.

Nothing happened, so I returned to the bank on Friday, May 28. The banker told me that Santander would NOT cash the check and handed it back to me. No explanation was offered.

Today I took the check to the Order Express check cashing service in Puebla and was told that because the check had been sealed by another institution, they could not handle it. See attached photo of the explanation sheet they handed me.

So effectively, Santander “spoiled” the check by stamping it and having me sign it, and then refusing to cash it. The US Treasury is NOT issuing replacement stimulus checks, so unless Santander does cash the check, I will lose $1,400.

This situation seems crazy to me, as well as VERY unprofessional on the part of Santander. Do I need to talk to a lawyer about taking legal action? What do you recommend here?

If I do need a lawyer, can you recommend one who is bilingual?

My first thought is to go back to Santander tomorrow and explain the situation to the same banker. I am not sure that this will have any effect, but it might be worth a try.
 

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Mexican banks never accept US Treasury checks. If you had know this you would not have deposited it any Mexican bank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Well, Santander accepted the check by stamping it and having me sign it, and I would assume that they know more about Mexican banking than I could ever hope to. The day that I asked the questions, there were phone calls made and confabs held within the office to confirm that the situation would be OK. So if a mistake was made, perhaps their mistake? Their responsibility? If they had told me after hearing my questions and inspecting the check, “No, this is not something that we do”, I would have accepted their answer and moved on.

“If you had know[n] this…” It is true that I don’t know what I don’t know. So I ASK. And in this case the question was a banking question, could you accept THIS check (not any American check, but this specific US Treasury check that was on the desk in front of us), and I asked, let’s see, oh yes, a BANKER, about the policies of HER specific bank. If there was a flaw in my methodology here, apart from not having a priori knowledge about a professional field not my own, I’m just not seeing it.
 

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Yes it their fault and now it is their respondsibility to correct their error because they adulterated the ckeck. IMO
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, that is the way that I see it too! I am not enthusiastic about bringing a lawyer into the situation, but sometimes nothing else works. I will try approaching the banker again first, but I just have a feeling it is not going to be effective (unless maybe I mention the possibility of legal action, which could make them sit up and take notice).

I like that word, “adulterated”. I might use that. That is exactly what they did. They also held onto the check for one month without informing me of any problem, and it was only by visiting their office on my own initiative that I discovered that there WAS a problem. They had my phone number, they had my email address, but there was no communication.
 

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I, like you, had a reluctance to use lawyers. For me it was an almost cultural thing that I brought with me from the US. Or perhaps inherited family attitudes. The bad ones always make everything worse and more expensive, regardless of outcome. And at first, I had one here who was like that.

But now I have an Abogado here who has been very helpful, and gotten things smoothed out for me a couple times just by making a phone call. She's a sweet older Mexicana who absolutely gets results in ways I never could. I don't know what stories she tells, perhaps simply saying she's involved because of my limited Spanish. But whatever, having her make a call seems to break gridlock very reliably.

Sometimes people just put me off hoping I'll give up and go away, and having her call puts an end to speculation on their part that they can get away with stonewalling. I assume people know she knows the real and unwritten rules and they don't try to feed her the kind of BS that a foreigner might swallow, so she can cut to the actual hang-up and suggest a work-around. Everyone seems to like working with her, too.

You never know, an Abogado might have a way to send the check to the US that bypasses the usual restrictions - perhaps classify it as a 'legal settlement document' or some other legal work-around, designate the receiver with temporary limited power of attorney and cash the damn thing.

Maybe an Abogado could even help you open a US-based bank account - though from what I've read you'll have to travel to the bank branch and present your face at least once. Maybe take a bus trip to Laredo?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you so much for your VERY helpful comments! I was thinking a little along those same lines. A real professional - and a local, linguistically at-home professional at that! - is sure to be able to get to solutions that I never could achieve in a million years.

So I redoubled my request to my accountant for a recommendation, and also just put out a local feeler. I am rethinking that possibly I should NOT go back to the original banker to try to work things out (which probably wouldn’t work), but should avoid muddying the record and just let whichever lawyer I engage handle the contacts moving forward.

I fear that I might get a little…HOT, if I go back to the bank, which surely wouldn’t help matters. I would go in with the best of intentions, of course, but could easily see myself losing my temper if they try stonewalling, your very apt word.
 
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