Pitfalls of Stopping a Check

NBC Bay Area Responds

Recently, a Redwood City viewer named Bill reached out for help with a company that he had hired to transfer a film to video.

Bill’s 16mm movie is old. But the 1976 senior class project from San Francisco State is not antiquated enough to be silent. Yet, that is exactly how the film came out: soundless.

The picture also was jittery, he said.

“It bobs around,” Bill wrote in his complaint to us. “It’s worthless to me.”

Bill had paid handsomely for the service, with a check for $617.

Given his dissatisfaction, he stopped payment on the check and posed a question to me.

“Am I liable for payment,” he asked.

Good question.

For answers, we reached out to the American Bankers Association. It’s probably not the answer you want to hear.

The ABA explained to us that stopping payment on a check is not permanent. A representative noted that stopping payment only lasts six months. After that period expires, the check can be cashed.

Stopping payment also costs about $30, though it varies by bank or credit union.

The ABA urges consumers who stop payment on checks to communicate with the problem merchant. Talk with the manager or owner to return your check, refund your money or reach a resolution some other way before the six-month window closes.

It’s possible that you can renew the hold and stop payment on a check multiple times. But it is likely that you will incur the fee each time.

Bill says he has begun a dialogue with the film transfer company. And he’s giving them a second chance to bring is 1976 masterpiece back to life – sound included.

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