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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 21, 2009 3:54 AM. The previous post in this blog was SoWhat condo auction picks up a few stray rubes. The next post in this blog is Portland transit mall tax hit jumps 70 percent. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

You never give me your money

When was the last time you wrote out a check at the grocery store checkout counter or the dry cleaner's? You younger readers out there, have you ever done that? It's still an option at many retailers, as one occasionally discovers when a shopper up ahead on the checkout line decides to write one. Like it or not, you get a few more seconds to look at the tabloids, or wonder to yourself who would actually pay for a copy of Portland Monthly.

Well, the times they are a-changin', and now some stores are beginning to just say no to checks. It wouldn't bother us, but when they start to reject manufacturers' coupons (as at least one is), now that's when they're going to provoke our ire.

Comments (14)

Funny, I was someplace at the beach last week that would not take credit or debit cards and would only take checks. My friend and I were both surprised at the sign. I know that there are hefty fees on credit cards (don't have facts on debits).

I would like to know what the fee is on debit also. More and more I'm running into places that wont take debit but do credit.

It used to be that debit transactions were cheaper.. if I recall correctly, they had a flat fee (10 years ago, I think it was around .05 per trans) as opposed to credit transactions that were a percentage of the trans amount.. I think that might have changed though as Im seeing more of what darrin noted...

Fees? They get you coming and going.

The consumer pays a fee AND the retailer pays a fee.

When I run a transaction on credit or debit for my business, all of the miscellaneous charges taxes and stuff combined come to right about 5% of the transaction by the time it's all done.

Some places it is more than 5%, then on top of that, there is an annual fee for merchants supposedly split up evenly (NOT dependent on the amount of annual sales). They said the annual fee was added to cover putting information on the computer so merchants can have Internet access to their own accounts, I don't buy it, computers make things more efficient and LESS costly. You get this annual fee whether you use your transaction machine or not. Most of my monthly transactions are less than the annual fee. They split it up evenly so merchants can't complain.

Rather, the big merchants don't complain and the little guy can't pay to fight it. I guess socialism works for some businesses.

Credit card companies are BIG business. People are not taught personal finance and few are able to handle debt and the trap it can become. These companies can charge pretty much whatever they want and people will pay it.

One of these companies sold my business name and phone number when I was searching for a better rate. I guess they wanted to make money off me any way they could. In the last four months I have received about 3 dozen calls from credit card processors wanting me to switch over. When they discover I hardly use the machine and therefore don't have a high volume, they suddenly become disinterested.

What a pain in the neck.

Taking checks does not cause a fee to be issued by the banks.

Taking credit cards does.

They must be getting plenty of bad checks.

Checks bounce routinely and there is nothing the merchant can do about it other than go after the issuer.

Went to Winco on Saturday morning on 122nd. Their debit/credit reader was down, so they were only taking cash and checks.

With technology some businesses have now, a check basically becomes a debit transaction. They slide the check through some magic reader and instantly know if it's good or not.
Some of my monthly bills I pay with check show on my statement as an electronic transaction. In other words, no routing to the bank. Just presto, instant transfer. No float time.

If you keep a balance in you checking/savings account Checks are free. I'd rather stand behind someone writing a check, than behind some 250# over weight woman with 4 kids trying to remember which of the 17 CCs isn't maxed out, or trying to use her debit card and can't remember the pin number all to buy 4 packs of Twinkies and a 6 pack of coke.

Wow Phil....are you having a bad day or are you always so judgemental?


If you're going to write a check, at least be courteous and have the checkbook and pen ready when you get up to the cashier, and start writing while she's scanning your stuff rather than waiting until she announces your total to start fumbling for your checkbook.

What gets me are the check writers that go to the checkout line without proper ID, fully well knowing they will be asked for it... then the manager has to be called to approve the transaction...

I've heard that if a merchant accepts credit and/or debit cards they can't specify that credit card purchases must exceed a certain amount. And yet I've run into many who do.

There are also at least two convenience stores in my neighborhood that won't take anything but cash.

This insistence on credit or debit cards for purchases is annoying but not as bad as the fees being levied for paper payments of bills or for issuing paper statements to people without computer access. As long as there are people out there who can't afford or don't understand computers it stinks for companies to treat them like second class citizens. Their numbers are smaller and it would be good customer service to continue to allow them to pay bills and receive statements conventionally.

The most idiotic denial witnessed during the heat wave came on local news when the talking heads directed those in need of relief to their website where the location of cooling centers would be listed. Let's see . . . who's most likely to need a cooling center? Maybe people too poor to afford computer access or those too old to be using it?

It's final - those without credit cards or computers are officially marginalized.

Michelle in Oregun, sometimes when the bill is high at the grocery store I like (or have to) pay by check. Yes, I'll have my checkbook out and pen ready, but I like to see if the checker doesn't make a mistake. Which by studies happens over 15% of the time. Then I'll quickly write the check. Probably the time expended isn't any more than the credit card user that has a bad card then tries another, or the time taken to verify the card which many times the system is slow, or the card is maxed out and they need to try another card, or they pull out one card, then decide to use another card thinking or awhile what the debit is on the card.

By paying by check, and writing it down in the register and balancing occasionally (not at the counter) I have a better chance of being a better financially stable person and not misusing credit. I see the misuse of credit/debit cards as a major cause for the present fix we are in.

Having survived a stint working for a liquor store in my sordid past, I can understand why more and more stores are backing away from checks. There's no easy way to tell if the check was stolen, if it's printed off a nonexistent account, or if it's off an account that was shut down earlier that day. Liquor stores are the first places scammers try, too, as the gains are quickly able to vanish, both by chugging and by trading to friends and shadow creditors. After a while, I got to the point where some of the scammers were easy to spot (the guy who came in fifteen minutes before closing, after backing up his car into the parking space, with a horrible sob story about how it's his birthday; the woman who walks in and immediately aims toward filling her cart with the most expensive liquor we carried before presenting a check obviously run off someone's inkjet printer), but we got to the point in 2002 where even our regular customers were giving us bad paper.

(Oh, and if you want to learn an object lesson about racial profiling, work in a liquor store for a few months. I had a boss at the time, and he was reprimanded after I left for this very behavior, who automatically assumed that any black or Latino individual passing a check was trying to pull a stunt. In my experience, though, the vast majority of check fraud came from yuppies who'd just closed their checking accounts and figured that nobody would bust them for check fraud because they had Connections. We never printed out the bad checks and put them up in the front window, the way a clothing store of my acquaintance does with its deadbeats, as we just let the Dallas District Attorney track them down.)

Combined with this and another stint working for a company that handles electronic payments for utility companies, I can definitely understand why more and more businesses are declining checks, at least in person. It's not that we don't love those responsible people who use their checkbooks the way they were intended. Unfortunately, those responsible people are being drowned out by slugbait who steal checks from relatives (or from their churches, as I discovered on the second job) and then can't understand why the company that was just ripped off tries to take the money out of their hides.


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