July 12, 2018 4:17 pm
Updated: July 12, 2018 4:31 pm

Black comedian alleges prejudice after he couldn’t cash a cheque at a Money Mart in B.C.

At left, a clerk at Money Mart in Maple Ridge, B.C. At right, Sterling Scott, a comedian who said the clerk would give no explanation for not cashing his cheque.

Facebook/Sterling Scott
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A staffer at a Money Mart location in Maple Ridge, B.C. called the police on a black comedian after he wouldn’t cash the man’s cheque on Monday.

Edmonton-based performer Sterling Scott, who took a video of the encounter, said he has repeatedly had difficulty having cheques cashed — and alleged that such situations have been motivated by prejudice.

Money Mart said the cheque was made out to an incorporated company with numerous directors, and that all of them had to be present in order for it to be cashed.

But Scott said that was never explained to him.

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Scott was in Vancouver last week after he was booked to perform a series of shows at the Comedy Mix, a venue at the downtown Century Plaza Hotel.

He’s often on the road and he cashes cheques at companies like Money Mart so that he has money on hand; if he put it in his account, then his bank would place a hold on it for five days, he told Global News.

On Monday, Scott took a cheque from the Comedy Mix to the Money Mart at 107-20130 Lougheed Highway, close to 203 Street.

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When Scott arrived at the Money Mart, he said he handed over his cheque and ID, and was asked to sit and wait for 10 to 15 minutes.

The clerk then returned and indicated he wouldn’t be able to cash the cheque.

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At that point, Scott started recording the encounter and he eventually posted two separate videos of it to his Facebook account.

The first video showed Scott speaking to a staffer who was behind a glass panel; he asked the clerk why he wouldn’t cash his cheque.

The clerk then picked up a phone, hung up and walked to a back area with the cheque in hand.

The second video showed the staffer returning Scott’s cheque, then saying he was going to call the police.

“Yeah, please call, but I want you to explain to me why you can’t cash the cheque though,” Scott said in the video.

The clerk was not seen in the video again.

Throughout the video, Scott kept asking for an explanation as to why Money Mart would not cash the cheque.

He told Global News that the clerk never explained why he wouldn’t do that.

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Scott said this isn’t the first time that Money Mart clerks have refused to cash cheques for him, saying this has happened at least three separate times in the past six months.

He related one encounter at a Money Mart in Edmonton, in which he tried to cash a cheque after performing at the city’s Yellowhead Casino.

Scott said he provided a staffer with two pieces of ID and that she said, “we can’t prove this is real.”

The clerk, he said, said the Yellowhead Casino didn’t exist.

He said he then pulled up his Facebook profile which showed that he has been doing comedy for 10 years, but that she still said no.

Then, Scott claimed she asked him to show her a flyer from the show — he had one in his car and showed it to her.

But she once again refused to cash the cheque, Scott said.

Scott recounted that the staffer then said she needed the “original, written contract between you and the person who signed this cheque.”

“If that’s their policy, I would love to see how many people provide that information for cashing a cheque,” he told Global News.

Scott related another incident, from a separate Money Mart, where he says  a staffer also wouldn’t cash his cheque.

There, too, he was given no reason why, he said.

Following that encounter, he went to another Money Mart where he was told that all he needed to cash the cheque was his ID.

He then told that staffer that he just came from another location where he had to provide a “whole crapload of things,” but that he was refused anyway.

At that point, he said, the staffer said a notice had gone out to all Money Mart locations instructing them not to cash his cheques.

Scott said he complained to Money Mart about that encounter, but that the company never followed up with him.

A Money Mart store sign, Vancouver, B.C., October 1, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Bayne Stanley

Scott said he posted the video of his encounter in Maple Ridge so that he could show people what he goes through when he tries to cash a cheque.

“So that everybody who cashes cheques can be like, damn, they’ve never asked me for these things, how come he has to go through these things?” Scott said.

“If it’s your policy, then it’s what you apply to everyone. If it’s not what you apply to everyone, it’s prejudice.”

In a statement regarding the experience at the Money Mart in Maple Ridge, the company said, “we strive to cash every cheque presented to us.

“As explained to Mr. Scott, we require all directors of a company be registered Money Mart customers in order to cash a cheque made payable to an incorporated company with multiple directors.

“We are corresponding with Mr. Scott to resolve this issue. We have provided Mr. Scott with the necessary information needed to complete this transaction.

“We appreciate and value the diversity of our customers, and strive to deliver outstanding service to every customer, without exception. Mr. Scott has been a loyal Money Mart customer. We regret that he was not happy with his most recent interaction.”

In an interview on Global News Radio’s The Shift with Drex on Tuesday, Scott said the cheque was addressed to an incorporated company he owns alongside one other director.

His experience at the Maple Ridge Money Mart represented the first time that a cheque had been made out to his corporation; he arranged for this because he found out that his company is taxed less than he is as an individual, he said.

Scott owns a majority share of the company, he said.

“I control the debit cards, I control everything,” Scott said.

He told Global News in a Wednesday interview that no Money Mart or bank has told him that he needs all of his directors present to cash a cheque.

“In fact, when I had my business incorporated, my bank has made it where I am the only one needed to be present to cash, write or deposit any kind of cheque,” Scott said.

As for any further correspondence with Money Mart, Scott said the company sent him an email but he hadn’t yet read it when Global News contacted him while he was driving on Wednesday.

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Staff Sgt. Pram Prihar of the Ridge Meadows RCMP confirmed to Global News that police were called to a situation at Money Mart on Tuesday at about 1 p.m.

He said police were called to a complaint of a man being “verbally aggressive” and that they were asked to come and remove him.

The man in question was no longer there when police arrived, Prihar said.

Scott said he waited for police to arrive for about 15 minutes, but never saw them.

Prihar didn’t say how much time passed between the call being made and police arriving, but he said it would “not have been a priority call because there was no weapons mentioned.”

He said if Scott wants to speak with them about his experience at Money Mart, then they’d be happy to listen to his side of the story.

As for Scott, he said he’s going to contact a lawyer with the aim of filing a human rights complaint over his experiences.

He’s doing this because he said he’s seen the same practices “not just in Maple Ridge, but across the country.”

“This is the whole country, and their practices in the country, the nation, need to be corrected,” Scott said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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