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?