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Dear Matt:

At the end of the movie Erin Brockovich, Erin's boss presents her with a check for "Two Million and No/100s" dollars. She is of course stunned by this genuinely "fat" bonus check. Then the movie ends. My question is: What would be the next step? A stop at her local Bank of America drive-through ATM? If the ATM refused to allow entry of the seven-digit amount, could she instead walk into a nearby Washington Mutual and open up a free checking account? My bank is Wells Fargo, and I believe they allow you to have no more than $100,000 in your account. So what do you think she did with that check?

-- Alicia Mattias, Chula Vista

Imagine, if you will, your local Wells Fargo branch. Every time a million-dollar check comes in the door, the tellers all gather 'round and ooh and aah and show it to everybody in the joint. Well, you and I might, but people who handle money for a living are different from you and me. A mil is just not a big deal. "We see much bigger checks than that every day," says one WF manager. "It's just a piece of paper." Unless it's payable to you, of course. Yes, Erin might have dropped it in the ATM. They're set up to handle big transactions. But I can guarantee you she didn't have it converted into bills so she could go home and wrap herself in two million dead presidents. As much fun as that might be, banks have rules about how much cash they'll give you. None that I tried would disclose what that limit is.

By the way, Wells Fargo was horrified to hear that one of its customers believes they'll only take $100,000 of your money. They'll take every penny you can scrounge up from between the sofa cushions, no limit. You have Wells Fargo confused with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures bank accounts. They won't insure an account larger than $100,000. A bank that won't take money? Positively un-American.

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