A branch of Bank of America in Albany, New York, refused to let a new bride deposit her wedding checks because she kept her maiden name, her husband Pete Iorizzo wrote in the Albany Times-Union, where he covers news and sports.
In his story, "Pete vs. Bank of America," Iorizzo explains that most of the checks he and his wife received from wedding guests were addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Iorizzo." Because his wife chose to not to change her surname, he endorsed the checks himself and designated them "for deposit only" so she could drop by Bank of America and deposit them in the joint account they held there.
But bank tellers refused to deposit the checks due to his wife's different last name, even though she offered to present a copy of their marriage license, Iorizzo said.
What followed was a tedious series of arguments with Bank of America management over her right to deposit the checks as a member of a married couple who chose not to follow a traditional path.
"Here's the thing I can't understand," I told the manager during our 10-minute phone conversation. "This must happen all the time."
After all, 10 percent of women don’t change their names – a small percentage, sure, but a figure that amounts to about 300,000 women a year.
Surely many of these women receive checks as wedding gifts. And surely many do business at Bank of America – the largest bank in the country.
"I've only seen this once in my 20 years in the business," the manager told me.
Apparently the manager was referring solely to local business, because Iorizzo faced no opposition when he drove to the Bank of America one town over, who accepted the couple's checks without argument.
It's not the first time Bank of America has run into trouble over a customer's identity.
In July 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that the bank had failed to deliver $30,000 worth of social security payments to an elderly man in Riverside, California, because they had accidentally deposited the money in another customer's account over the previous two years.
While initially claiming the error was irreversible, the bank eventually corrected the problem after the District Attorney's office launched an investigation on the case.
In another mixup case, a man in Northampton, Massachusetts, reported receiving a notice from Bank of America demanding that he pay an outstanding mortgage of $0.00.
Though he knew he wasn't in danger of losing his home -- he had never missed a mortgage payment -- he was disappointed to find his credit score lowered and that he was unable to get in touch with the bank.
After learning about his story on the local news, Bank of America restored his credit and issued a $150 gift card.
But Bank of America has taken steps to aid its customers as well.
When the bank learned that a terminally ill woman in Sacramento, California, had not been paying her mortgage because of mounting medical bills, it decided to delay eviction proceedings until after her death.