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'We're getting the runaround:' Business owners frustrated over water settlement checks

Three visits to two banks in 24 hours, yet Gary Garrison still held a paper check made out to his wife's business from the American Water Guaranteed Settlement Fund. (WCHS/WVAH)

It's not just the household settlement checks from the 2014 water crisis that are causing a headache across the region. Several business owners said they've been denied the ability to cash their checks at Fifth Third bank locations and other banks as well.

"We are getting the runaround," said Gary Garrison, whose wife operated a nail salon from 2011-2017 out of their home in Red House in Putnam County.

Three visits to two banks in the last 24 hours, yet Garrison still held a paper check made out to his wife's business from the American Water Guaranteed Settlement Fund.

"Shirley walked down to the mailbox at the end of the driveway yesterday and came back with a big smile on her face," Garrison said.

But that smile quickly faded after the Garrisons said they followed the instructions on their letter.

"You can also cash the check free of charge at any local Fifth Third banking center with proper identification ..." Garrison said, reading the letter.

But after waiting in line, "We're told that we didn't have a proper account because this was a business check and we didn't have a business account at Fifth Third," Garrison said.

Something, Garrison said, was never listed as criteria in the letter. Nevertheless, Garrison's wife does have a business account at City National, one that she's used frequently since 2011 while operating a nail salon out of their home with monthly deductions still coming out.

"We've got checks on the account that is still active today. We don't use it as much as we did because the business has since closed, but we still maintain the account," Garrison said. "[They said] this is not a proper business account. Take the check back to Fifth Third."

They're not alone. Their daughter, who owns a hair salon next store, said she was also denied at several banks, including her own.

"I feel so bad for the younger people who need this money more than Shirley and I do," Garrison said.

It's worth noting that this check is the only one the Garrisons will receive. Their business claim was the only one they were allowed to file, since their home and the salon shared an address.

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