Bank’s response was all thumbs

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I might have to rethink having my bank accounts at Bank of America.

Never mind the bailouts. I’m not going on about the hearings and investigations on Capitol Hill. Never mind Barney Frank’s ideas for what should really happen with Bank of America’s assets.

In Tampa last week, a Bank of America branch refused to cash a check for a man because he couldn’t give the bank his thumbprint.


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Normally, that’s a pretty good safety precaution. It does smack a little bit of having Big Brother around watching your every move. Since Bank of America and the Federal Government of America are pretty closely linked nowadays, perhaps my paranoia’s up to the orange threat level for the time being.

But, I guess Bank of America’s justified in taking a thumbprint as some sort of security step.

This guy in Florida, I’m sure he would’ve loved nothing more than to give the bank his finger prints. The big reason for the argument? The man has no arms, and the Bank of America’s rules and employees were too stubborn to find a normal, decent way to work around the problem.

Steve Valdez, the guy who wanted his check cashed, said to CNN, “They looked at my prosthetic hands and the teller said, ‘well, obviously you can’t give us a thumbprint.’”

Award one point to Bank of America in each category for awkwardness and political incorrectness. Of course, the employees probably felt nearly powerless to do anything different for Valdez, no matter how much common sense it made.

The bank supervisor said he could cash the check with no fingerprint if Valdez opened an account with the bank. That’s not a very good sales pitch. Valdez is quoted saying he certainly didn’t want to open an account.

Valdez was considering going forward with a charge against Bank of America, saying what happened violated the Americans with Disability Act. If ever there was a more obvious case of such a violation, I’ve not heard of it.

Unfortunately for Valdez, these days Bank of America and that big organization in Washington that was responsible for the Americans with Disability Act are closely-knitted, so good luck to him getting anywhere with a lawsuit.

Andrew GIERMAK is sports editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. He can be reached at