Reporting Kurtis Ming
A West Sacramento woman says Reader’s Digest stopped payment after publishing something she wrote. She decided to call Kurtis to investigate.
Kimberly Deane submitted a true story to Reader’s Digest, which offers $100 for jokes and anecdotes they choose to publish. Hers read:
“We’ll have a cheeseburger, no ketchup please,” I told the person taking my order at McDonald’s.
“But the ketchup is the best part” she said.
“I know, but my son is allergic to tomatoes.”
“In that case, don’t worry,” she assured me, “The cheeseburger doesn’t come with tomatoes.”
With that, she made the cut for February’s issue.
“You know, it didn’t take much. It was $100. I was excited that I could pay a bill off now,” said Deane.
She got the issue, saw her story, cashed her check, but a few days later the money was yanked out of her account, along with a $10 bank fee.
“I was like, ‘Uh oh, what happened?’” said Deane.
Her bank sent her a document, showing Reader’s Digest ordered a stop payment on the check.
“How dare you say you’re going to pay someone and then renege on that?” said Deane.
She says she’s called and emailed the magazine a number of times and still hasn’t received an explanation.
Then more than a month later, she received a second check, but is leery of cashing it.
“I don’t want to get bounced check charges again,” said Deane.
We contacted Reader’s Digest which told us it was a mix-up relating to the company’s recent bankruptcy filing:
“Under federal law, a check issued prior to a Chapter 11 filing cannot be deposited or cashed following the filing. Instead, a new check needs to be issued. That’s what happened here. As soon as we became aware of the situation, we issued the contributor a new check and sent a second check to cover the $10 bank charge. We sincerely regret any hardship the delayed payment has caused. All of our contributors can be assured that Reader’s Digest can and will pay for submissions under normal terms going forward.”
“She had very, very bad timing,” said bankruptcy attorney Scott Coben.
Coben says even though legally a check can’t be cashed after this type of bankruptcy filing, Reader’s Digest could have asked the court for an exception.
“You might file your bankruptcy and then run in on the very first day get court permission to pay employees or medical insurance for your employees and things like that,” said Coben.
Deane is happy to have this all behind her, but says she probably won’t renew her subscription.
“I mean to be in business that many years and to have that kind of issue, is just, that’s horrible customer service,” said Deane.
We asked Reader’s Digest how many other contributors were affected. We didn’t get that answer.