A Local Wells Fargo Bank in Georgia Refused to Cash My Hurricane María Insurance Check Because It Was Written in Spanish

Feb 24, 2019
3:51 PM

On Friday, Latino Rebels received the following account from a Puerto Rican woman who asked us to not use her name. Here is what she wrote. (FYI, we had reached out to Wells Fargo last weekend when we found out about her story.)

I live in Peachtree Corners, Georgia.

I currently own a condo in Puerto Rico, which is managed by my 73-year-old mother, who lives about 2-3 miles from my condo. As you know, in September of 2017, Hurricane María took a devastating stroll throughout our beautiful island, leaving millions of dollars in damages and not to mention the amount of lives it took along the way.

My condo and property management had some damage. Since my damage was not as devastating, compared to others who lost everything, I decided to “take my number” and wait my turn until the HOA management company processed our claim with the insurance company.

I didn’t get my insurance check until last Saturday, February 16, 2019. I was so excited to finally deposit the check and send the money to my mother so she can proceed with the necessary repairs.

As a loyal customer of Wells Fargo (11 years to be exact), I went to the branch close to my residence in Georgia, and used the drive-thru option to deposit the check. The nice clerk sees the check and says: “I need to confirm with my manager, since this is a big check that’s written in Spanish.”

A few minutes she comes back and says: “Everything is great! Thanks and have a wonderful weekend!” So I deposit the check and head back home. Once I get home, I check my account via the Wells Fargo app and see the money in “pending” status with a “+” sign by the amount. Everything looks great!

About an hour later, I get a call from Wells Fargo. “Please call back.” No extension number, no last name. I’ve tried to communicate and was not successful. I got worried so decided to check the app again when I see the amount has been “reversed.”

I think: “This couldn’t BOUNCE!” So I decide to go back to the branch.

As I am on my way thinking that the check bounced, I call my mother in Puerto Rico to have her ready on the phone.

The assistant manager comes to me because the manager “is not available to speak right now.” She proceeds to ask for my ID. She has the check in her hands.

The assistant manager said something about how the bank cannot accept the check “because it is in Spanish.

“You are in an English-speaking country,” she says. “We need the check in English.”

This is what I say: “Well, the check is current, signed from an insurance company. The things you need to pay attention are the date, routing number, and account number attached to the check. Why does it need to be in English? I don’t understand.”

“Our computer doesn’t read Spanish,” the assistant manager says. “If the check bounces, you will be in trouble.”

My mother is hearing this conversation over the phone and asks to speak with the lady. I tell the lady. The lady’s response?

“I can’t speak to her. I don’t speak Spanish. And we don’t have a Spanish speaker on staff,” she says as she waves her hands at me.

My response: “Do you know how insulting this is? First of all we are fully bilingual. She probably speaks better English than you.”

My mom disconnects the call. She is furious.

My frustration continues.

“Let me get this straight, you are saying that Wells Fargo, a nationwide multi-billion company doesn’t have the software to translate any check from any language? If that is the case, why I could see the money deposited in my account in the first place? If it couldn’t read the check, it wouldn’t made it that far, right? Do you see the check says this is from Hurricane María? I’ve been waiting for this since 2017.”

I then ask for the check and my ID back.

“If you can have a check in English we will be happy to deposit it,” she tells me.

When I grab the check, I see it was endorsed in the back then crossed over with blue ink pen.

I leave the Wells Fargo branch.

On Tuesday, February 19, my mother gets on hold with the manager of my HOA in Puerto Rico. She explains the situation (which I emailed them as well that same Saturday, including the picture of the endorsed voided check). The HOA says they need to run this by their lawyers because looks like I’ve deposited the check, and I am asking for another one. Also, we’ve explore the idea of them cutting the check on my mother’s name directly so she can deposit it there instead of waiting for it to come to Georgia.

Finally, we get the answer from the lawyers. First, they cannot cut the check on my mother’s name. Second, they request the voided check back. Third, once they receive the check, and it’s proven was not cleared, then they will send another check back.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo calls me to apologize for the situation.

“But if you have the check in English…”

I cut him in the middle of the speech (quite annoyed of course). I tell him what I have to do now, just because Wells Fargo simply cannot read Spanish.

His answer is this: “Damn!”

And I disconnect the call. Suddenly, for no reason nor relevance whatsoever Wells Fargo emails me to let me know that “we’ve increased your daily purchase limit.” That does nothing. If they would’ve said “we will work hard to improve our software to read every language,” I (and millions of other Americans) would be happy.

Until that happens, who cares about increasing the daily limit when we get limited in deposit money to begin with?

I’m sharing this story because I think I am not the only who has gone through this.

Thanks for your awesome attention and interest.

Editor’s Note: We did reach out to the Wells Fargo’s customer service Twitter about this story and this is what the bank told us on February 22 via Twitter DM. We did let Wells Fargo know that the customer would be writing about her experience at the local branch.