Reader to Reader: How Can I Prevent Bounced Checks?


Readers respond with suggestions like assessing a fee to not taking checks at all.


I very rarely receive bad checks. I charge a $10 fee for returned cheeks. If I do receive a cheek that bounces, it’s usually from a new client. To prevent this, I ask the client before I begin the service if she is going to write a cheek. If she is, I tell her that I will call her bank before she leaves. I watch for her reaction. Sometimes, clients come up with cash real quick.--Deanna Beem, Cuttin’ Loose Hair Design, Hesperia, Calif.

More and more clients prefer writing checks to carrying cash to salons. In Chicago, many beauty shops have been robbed in the past three years. Keep in mind the following helpful suggestions when accepting checks.

  • Check your local telephone directory to see if the bank really does exist.
  • Ask for proper identification. Photo identification, automobile insurance cards, health club cards, and work identification usually carry identification numbers, which can be useful in identifying a client. Also compare signatures on identification to the signature on the check.
  • Allow checks to clear through your savings account first, if you have one, and then transfer the funds to your checking account. This step will prevent bounced checks from affecting your personal cash flow.
  • If your client’s check bounces, contact her as soon as possible. Ask her, in a polite and professional manner, when she can stop by or mail her payment for services rendered. Don’t be afraid to include a processing fee added by your bank. If a client has not reimbursed you within a reasonable amount of time (about two weeks), send her a certified letter requesting that all fees, including postage, be paid in full within seven business days. Also inform your client that if this matter is not resolved within the allotted time frame, you will contact her bank for immediate attention to the matter.
  • Remember to be professional and always leave the client feeling appreciated for her patronage.-Anita Hughes, Forbes and Co., Chicago, III.

I don’t think that you can really prevent bounced checks unless you run a cash-only business. This would prove to be very limiting and an inconvenience. By accepting checks, you just have to protect yourself by getting complete information on the checks (i.e. name, address, phone number, social security number, and birth date). Since passing a bad check is a serious offense, the more information you have on the client, the easier it is to recoup your losses. More often than not, the client did not deliberately bounce the check and is very eager to make amends.-Ella M. Silvestri, Nouveaux Nails, Acton, Mass.


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