/ Money

You say: cheques should be here to stay

A cheque being handed over

When we started a Conversation asking, ‘Do you want to save the cheque?’ you spoke up in great numbers. But we weren’t prepared for such a resounding response. The cheque, most of you agree, should stay.

At last we’ve found something you all agree on! Over 1,000 votes have been cast in our poll, and (at the time of writing) 92% of you say you don’t want to get rid of cheques – that’s a pretty big majority by anyone’s standards.

So why are you so adamant that this little paper book should stick around – and what are the main reasons you use it? And what about the 8% who are happy living life without cheques? We’ve ploughed through the comments to highlight the main issues raised.

Small traders need cheques

Lots of comments focussed on small traders and businesses, with many explaining that they use cheques to pay traders who come to their home, like Jonas. ‘I’ve not used cheques for ages until this past week. I had my garage door repaired, and had a heat survey on my house; both wanted payment after the work was done,’ he says. ‘Before cheques are scrapped we need a replacement for these situations.’

Others, like Danny, run small business and have investigated getting a card reader. ‘For the amounts of money we are regularly dealing with, the charges levied by the banks are extortionate,’ he groans. ‘You pay to get the machine, a surcharge is made on each transaction – and then if you haven’t reached a base level in a month, you have to pay a top up fee.’

Banks being selfish

Which brings us nicely on to the subject of banks – something that you had plenty to say about. For John W, the only reason to phase out cheques is the cost to banks. ‘Does everything have to make a profit – is there no place for service?’ he asks. ‘If I was running a high street bank, I would keep a cheque system and watch the customers beat a path to my door.’

Not a bad suggestion, John! As for Cedric Johnson, he feels that we’re being conned by the banks again. ‘They want it all their own way, costly cheque processing by the banks gives them an excuse to eradicate the use of cheques.’

Impact on clubs and charities

There could be a big impact on clubs and charities if cheques are ditched according to many of your experiences.
‘I’m treasurer of an allotment association, also audit the books of a tennis club and another voluntary organisation,’ explains PJB. ‘All three bodies receive and make payments in relatively small amounts, for which the cheque is perfect. It’s difficult to see what alternative there would be that would not impose significant costs on the organizations.’

The cheque should go

But, despite such strong arguments, some of you did manage to speak for the opposite corner, albeit rather quietly. Our own Ben Stevens said simply, ‘I’m 32 years, one month, three weeks and three days old. I have never written a cheque. I don’t think I ever will.’

But it’s not just younger folk in the ‘for’ camp. ‘I am an old age pensioner with mobility problems and very much resent being given a cheque [instead of electronic transfer] as it forces me to go to the bank,’ says Ambrose. ‘Online banking is a wonderful tool for elderly people who need to check their bank accounts very frequently due to budget hardship.’

And while most of you simply couldn’t comprehend a world without cheques, one brave commenter, Greytech, dared to find a solution. ‘What I envisage as a replacement for cheques is like an Oyster card, with tradesmen using suitable mobile phones. Or […] an interim product supplied by your bank to print a 3D barcode slip similar to internet airline tickets that could be processed at an ATM or with a tradesman. These slips could be encoded so that only the intended recipient could pay them into their account. I would be very happy to get rid of cheques.’

The future of cheques

As I posted quite recently, the Payments Council (the organisation that sets the strategy for UK payments) published its ten ‘commitments for cheque users to reassure them that banks won’t leave them high and dry’.

While too long to list here, your responses so far are clear. ‘Sadly there is nothing in those 10 points to offer any reassurance or comfort,’ says Dave Darwent. Jane agrees ‘The commitments don’t actually mean anything do they!’ she says.

Have the commitments – or any of the comments here – changed your mind at all, or can we all agree that we want the cheque to stay?

Jan Carlsen says:
28 February 2011

I ordered a new mattress from a small local bed shop. I really want to support local business. As the mattress had to be ordered, I only paid a deposit. I was told I could pay the rest by credit card when the mattress was delivered. However, when the mattress was delivered – the delivery men said they did not have a machine for credit/debit cards and wanted cash. In the end I went back to the shop and paid in the shop by credit card.
My area is a burglary hot spot so I do not want to keep cash in the house. I could have paid by cheque but was awaiting a new cheque book.
Small business will suffer most if cheques are done away with.
Every time I have had to call in a plumber, electrician or builder – NONE have had machines for credit/debit cards and I have paid by cheque. I repeat I do NOT want to keep cash in the house.
So cheques should not be done away with.

StephenR says:
15 June 2011

Ever heard of the Consumer Credit Act? If not, have a look at http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/publications/ombudsman-news/31/creditcards-31.htm – it is an article from the Financial Services Ombudsman showing the benefit of using a credit card over cash or cheque. Section 75 gives powerful protection for the consumer and you should seriously consider using the card at every available opportunity. You could have bought your mattress without fear.

A.C.Rose-Innes says:
6 March 2011

Fewer cheques are now being used but this does not meen trhat there is NO need for them .
Do the banks exist to provide a service for their customers or are the customers thre to provide a service for the banks ?

Janet Reed says:
9 March 2011

As a small business owner in the business to business sector, I receive about one third of my payments by cheque. I also transfer money between several accounts across numerous banks using cheques as I do not have online banking. I send cheques as gifts to nephews and nieces. I write or receive cheques about once a fortnight, I do not want to lose the facility to send money to teenagers for birthdays and Christmas. A bank transfer is hardly a gift they can hold and I resent the modern gift cards that trace what is being spent and how the money is being used.

Donald J Morrison says:
16 March 2011

I am 100% in favour of keeping cheques and 100% in favour of getting rid of this stupid idea. I have always used and still continue to use cheques at the very same level as I did some 25 years ago…and so does everyone else out there. Every effort MUST be made to KEEP the cheque – and if not EVERY EFFORT MUST SURELY BE MADE TO RETRIEVE IT IF….banks and government ever try to get rid of it. The message is sound and clear from the public, and that message is a ver loud one – CHEQUES MUST STAY.

banks want to replace the cheque with a system that allows them to issue yet another charge against the person/business using it?
how unusual…

StephenR says:
15 June 2011

What “system” would that be then – or is this just an unsubstantiated whinge?

James says:
15 May 2011

The conversation is a waste of time if nobody who has any power is listening.

Even if they are listening it is still a waste of time if they can simply ignore what they hear.

Does anyone know whether any organisation with any clout is actually taking action to stop this happening? Is there anything we can do to make it difficult for the banks to push their project through against the wishes of the public?

Cheque is important in our daily life. Old pensioners still pay their bill with cheque. I looked after a lady and she always use cheque to pay and withdraw cash. It will be big problem for pensioner and for me. I also use cheque book to withdraw money and pay to small traders.

I believe banks are so greedy to make more profit for themselves and get big bonuses at the expense of consumers. Bank official thinks they can manage so expect everybody to do. I am against dicontinuation of cheque.

I think all custoners need to right PM and MPs.

Toby Sasse says:
16 March 2017

Why with all the technological advances in banking is it acceptable for it to take 5 days to clear a cheque paid into a major clearing bank personal account? Many years ago it took 3 days, which seemed inordinate, particularly when one’s statement showed the money was taken on the day of presentation for cheques drawn on the account. This was always pure profit taking. There is no good justification for the increased period, as it must now be a more automated process than ever!