-- Leona's Hubby
I'm going to take the bank's side on this one. For it to stop payment on the check, the order has to be in place prior to the check being presented for payment. You're blaming the bank for something that was your responsibility, namely to make final payment only after work was completed and inspected.
A bank isn't obligated to cash a check to a noncustomer that was written on one of its accounts, but it isn't prohibited from doing so, either. You almost got lucky when the first branch refused to cash the check, but your luck ran out when the payee presented at another branch and cashed the check.
I'm not sure why the bank offered you a $100 gift card, but it wasn't because it was wrong. That's another questionable decision on your part. That $100 represented 5 percent of the loss that you might have recouped.
Whether writing "final" on the check had any bearing on what you still might owe the contractor is a separate matter. If the contractor comes to you for additional payment, you'd want to take this up with your attorney. I don't think it's going to happen after what you've described.
I don't understand why you aren't chasing down the "contractor" in small claims court instead of trying to pin this on the bank. Maybe it's because he's not licensed, bonded or insured.
It's easy to see why the contractor went straight to the bank to cash the check. He was trying to get the check deposited during the business day. Banks typically have a set time when transactions processed are logged as the current day's business. That cutoff time is often 2 p.m.
Sorry to say that I don't have a ready solution to your problem. But your story should serve as a cautionary tale about only making final payments when work is truly completed.
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