Author Topic: Cheques / Checks!  (Read 6726 times)

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Ceallach

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Cheques / Checks!
« on: December 02, 2011, 04:16:59 AM »
I understand  that both are legitimate spellings depending on where you are.  ;D Anyway, a few comments in threads have got me curious about how cheques are used over in the US / other countries in general. I had to setup payroll in the US for my previous company (we were establishing operations there) and I was surprised that everything had the option of cheque - we could pay our employees via cheque, we should send cheques for setting up insurances etc.  Online banking had charges associated with it (even paying our employees by direct deposit meant they incurred a fee, which blew my mind!).  I've also heard of people over there using cheques to buy groceries, household goods etc.

Put simply:   we don't use 'em here.   Everything is via online banking or via card or cash.  Once in a blue moon somebody will need to get a cheque from the bank (drawn from their own account) in order to send it somewhere that requires cheque payment. That's an unusual occurrence and a great inconvenience as it involves an actual trip to the bank and usually a fee.

Here:
-No company I have ever worked for in NZ or Australia (going back 15 years) has ever even had the option of receiving a "paycheck".  It's all direct bank deposit, without exception.  You provide your bank account number when you're hired, and the money appears on payday, ready for spending.

-All payments come via direct bank debit or credit card, or are paid by bank transfer on my online banking (insurance, bills, etc).  There are no charges for transferring money electronically, unless it's to another country.  If I'm getting a refund from somewhere it's via direct deposit.

I heard years ago that part of the reason electronic banking is bigger here is because it's easier to use smaller countries as a "test market".  I personally notice a huge difference in between NZ and Australia even (NZ is much tinier than Aus).  Over in NZ I never, ever carried cash, whereas in Aus until recently a lot of places didn't accept eftpos for small payments (coffee, snacks etc) so I had to remember to withdraw money from the ATM once per week.  But cheques arent really used in either country. We know what they are, and they exist, but they're not part of everyday life.   One exception is the government medicare scheme in Aus - they still issue cheques sometimes, if you haven't applied for online payment for some reason (big organisation, so once again perhaps an implementation thing!)  Companies do use cheques for payment sometimes between businesses, but for personal banking it's exceedingly rare.

Anyway, curious as to whether based on your location cheques or electronic banking are the go?  And if you're from around here, is your experience different to mine and the people I know?
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blue2000

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2011, 06:00:12 AM »
Canadian here. Cheques are becoming very rare. Most businesses don't want to take them. The ones that do seem to require a 'cheque card' - you apply for one and they check your credit and keep your ID on file. Even those are disappearing. Most stores take debit/credit cards, although they have a fee attached. Either the store pays it (larger stores) or you pay it (smaller ones). Small dollar stores will sometimes just take cash, but even that is fading out. Plastic or cash is the norm.

My employer will do a pay cheque if you want it, but you would not believe the pressure to do automatic deposit. I used to get cheques, and you would have thought I owed the mafia the way they carried on. ::)
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 06:01:55 AM by blue2000 »
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MariaE

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2011, 06:35:00 AM »
Dane here. Checks are virtually unheard of here. I carry very little cash either - it's almost always debit card.
 
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Ceallach

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2011, 06:43:43 AM »
Canadian here. Cheques are becoming very rare. Most businesses don't want to take them. The ones that do seem to require a 'cheque card' - you apply for one and they check your credit and keep your ID on file. Even those are disappearing. Most stores take debit/credit cards, although they have a fee attached. Either the store pays it (larger stores) or you pay it (smaller ones). Small dollar stores will sometimes just take cash, but even that is fading out. Plastic or cash is the norm.

My employer will do a pay cheque if you want it, but you would not believe the pressure to do automatic deposit. I used to get cheques, and you would have thought I owed the mafia the way they carried on. ::)

Interesting!  See here, if you even asked an employer for a cheque, there would be a definite "no" plus it would be the talk of the HR/management/payroll team for a loooong time.  It would be the strangest, most unheard of thing, and literally impossible for the company to do with their systems.   I think we're just slightly ahead in the adoption of the technology, possibly, as it's been that way for a good decade here.  To me an actual paycheck is what my Grandad used to get back in the day....
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Larrabee

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2011, 07:01:39 AM »
UK here.

Cheques are becoming rarer and rarer.  They haven't been used for paying wages for many years, that's all automatic bank transfer.  Most shops have stopped accepting cheques as payment for goods in the last few years although a few still do.  Nobody carries their chequebook around in their handbag anymore!

10 years ago when I was working at McDonalds the only payments options were cash and cheque, I'd get maybe one cheque every 3 shifts.  Now at the McDs nearest me you can pay with cash, credit or debit card or using something to do with your mobile phone that I don't understand  :-\ 

The only times I can think of that cheques are usually used are things like insurance payouts and competition winnings.  Private individuals rarely use them.

MariaE

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2011, 07:32:41 AM »
10 years ago when I was working at McDonalds the only payments options were cash and cheque, I'd get maybe one cheque every 3 shifts.  Now at the McDs nearest me you can pay with cash, credit or debit card or using something to do with your mobile phone that I don't understand  :-\ 

Coin Offer App. We've got the same here. As far as I can figure out, you download an app, and then read barcodes to gather 'coins'. These coins can only be used for coin offers - not for other things.
 
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Ereine

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2011, 08:17:56 AM »
Finnish system sounds very similar to Australian, though we can do electronic bank transfers free of charge withon the EU. I pay all my bills online, it's also possible to do it at a bank but it costs extra (which isn't good for older people without computer skills). There used to be machines for paying bills but they've disappeared now mostly. Before I was old enough to have bills it was common to pay bills by filling a form that came with your bill and mailing it to your bank but I'm not sure about the details  People mostly use debit cards for shopping, credit is seen as slightly dangerous and even sinful.

I remember my mother using a check once to buy something in the 80s, it was so unusual that it stuck to my memory. My father did some work for an American company and though it was possible to cash their checks it was very expensive and he was happy when they moved to Paypal. The only use of checks that I know is as gifts for graduations, confirmations and weddings, they're special "gift checks". They seem like a nicer gift than just cash but are rather inconvenient as you have to cash them at the bank. At least it was a pain for me when I got some for my graduation I had to go to three different banks and wait in line for ages.

camlan

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2011, 08:25:41 AM »
US here. Checks are, IMO becoming less common, but they are still sometimes necessary. More and more businesses are taking debit cards, so people have the option of paying with cash, credit card, debit card or check. The last time I used a check in a store, about a year ago, the cashier had to ask her supervisor for help, but I think she was relatively new to the job. However, the salon where I get my hair cut will only take cash or a check, same with the sub shop down the street. I know that credit card companies charge the stores a percentage of each sale--if the same is true for debit cards, it's understandable that a small business, running on a small profit margin, doesn't want any part of that profit going to the debit card company.

Larger companies tend to want to use direct deposit for paychecks, but there are fees associated with this, so smaller companies sometimes still don't even have the option, because it would cost them too much money. One small company I worked for, when pressed for direct deposit, said that they'd do it, but would charge each employee $1 per direct deposit, to offset the associated fee. Since it seemed silly to have to pay to get your paycheck, that idea died a quick death.

Also, there are various laws about paying employees--these vary from state to state. But many states have regulations that you cannot force an employee to have a bank account in order to be paid. This stems from the fact that some people with terrible credit ratings have a hard time finding banks that will allow them to open an account. Or that many banks require minimum deposits in order to avoid paying monthly fees--people at the lowest income levels can't afford the fees, nor can they afford to leave $1000 just sitting in a bank account to avoid fees. So companies are, in many places, required to offer a paper paycheck in addition to direct deposit.

You can make some payments electronically--my electric bill, my internet company, my phone company. But the oil company (we have oil heat) needs a check or credit card. My bank charges $5 a month if you want to make on-line payments through the bank. On the other hand, I can go to the websites of my utility companies and make a free on-line payment there. Making an electronic payment to another person--it might be possible, but I have no idea how one would go about doing that. If I need to give someone money, it's cash or a check. I have to pay my rent by check. I suppose I could use cash, but I wouldn't feel comfortable mailing that much cash.

My current landlord is a guy who owns a few houses for rent, but my last landlord was a huge property management company. When I asked about some sort of direct payment instead of having to write and mail a check every month, it took two days for them to figure out that I could allow them to set up an automatic withdrawal from my checking account every month. The problem with that is that there have been many problems with such automatic withdrawals--it can be very difficult to get the company making the withdrawal to stop and the banks claim they can't do anything about it. If I could have been in charge of making the direct payment, I'd have gone with it. But I really didn't like the idea of allowing that particular management company access to my money.

I think the banks here have a variety of electronic systems, which have varying degrees of compatibility.  And my bank's on-line services have issues. I don't know what the problem is, but I have to reset my password constantly (like once a month) and every single time they "upgrade" their system, I have to call and go through setting up the on-line part of my account all over again. There's no way to do this without speaking to a real live person, and I appreciate that they are trying to keep things secure, but it's a hassle.

And there's a general fear amongst a lot of people that on-line banking isn't very secure and your account could be hacked and you could lose all your money.
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Ereine

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2011, 09:22:23 AM »
I think that it's interesting about pay checks guaranteeing that people with lower incomes can get it, as here the law guarantees everyone the right to a bank account and I don't think that you can get benefits without one. It's easy to transfer money to another person electronically here, it's just like paying bills, instead of a company's bank account number you enter that person's. I've heard that people are wary of giving out their account number in other countries but here all you can do is transfer money to it, it can't really be used for getting money out of the account.

Online banking has dangers but to me checks seem more insecure. To access my account online I need a login name that was given by the bank and that has nothing to do with my account number. Then I need a password I chose myself and then I have small card that my bank sent me with pairs of numbers and every time I log in I'm asked for another number. Probably it can be hacked somehow but the bank uses an electronic system anyway so even if I don't do it myself there's always the risk of hacking.

I forgot one form of payments, using a mobile phone. You can buy things like bus tickets and pizza and soda from vending machines by calling or texting a number and it gets added to your phone bill.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2011, 10:23:34 AM »
Another Canadian here...

My current employer won't issue cheques; it has to be direct deposit.  My previous employer, when they switched over from cheques to direct deposit, grandfathered those people who still wanted cheques.  If you were newly starting with them, you had to go with direct deposit.  I would imagine anyone getting cheques are all retired by now.

I've never used cheques in regular stores; I always use my credit card or debit if they don't take credit.  I do keep a small amount of cash on hand for small purchases.  I haven't seen anyone write a cheque in a store in a very long time.

The main place I've been using cheques is with contractors doing work on my house and to send VOID cheques to various institutions to establish pre-authorized payment from my bank account.
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Betelnut

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2011, 10:36:29 AM »
US here.

I do write checks for some things--to my daycare provider primarily but also to my daughter's dance school.  I don't want to charge those items and I haven't even asked if they take debit.  I guess I'm assuming that they don't.  I also write a monthly check to my church for my pledge.  I probably write 5-6 checks a month, mostly to the daycare center. A lot of small businesses don't take debit cards.

As for paychecks--direct deposit is the best, of course, but most places still offer the option of getting a physical check also.
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Venus193

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2011, 10:54:00 AM »
US here.

The only things I write checques for are rent and medical co-payments.  The latter could be put on my ATM card or credit card, but I track them through my checque register for tax purposes.  Landlords in NYC do not typically set up online payment because consistent late payment is one thing they can hold against you.  They also can have your checque in hand and delay depositing it if there is an issue regarding your tenancy.

I pay my other bills online and use the debit card in stores if I need to have cash on hand for miscellaneous small stuff like lottery tickets or anything that costs less than $10.

Ruelz

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2011, 11:00:16 AM »
Also a canuck:

Pay from large companies is generally direct deposit.  You can pay most bills on-line.

However, I use cheques all the time.  I pay some bills by cheque.  School fees/sport fees always by cheque...lessons by cheque...
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Yvaine

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2011, 11:02:31 AM »
I'm in the US, and yes, they're going out of fashion. Most places, you can still pick whether to get your pay in a check or via direct deposit. I get mine direct deposit through my job, but used to get a check, probably longer than most people out of sheer inertia. I switched after getting some (gentle, polite, but still pressure) pressure about it.

Re: paying with personal checks, a lot of places have stopped taking them. I think there's a stereotype that people write checks specifically when they don't actually have the money yet, because there's a delay before the money comes out of your account and some people take advantage of this to "float" checks when they'd be declined if they used their debit card. But a lot of customers, particularly older or less tech-savvy ones, see checks as more secure or just never got around to switching to electronic means.

The only thing I use a check for is the rent. I do this because my landlord is a private citizen, not a company, and just doesn't have a card-scanning machine at hand.  :)

Slartibartfast

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2011, 11:10:54 AM »
US here -

Checks can be really useful in certain situations:

- direct person-to-person money exchange when you want a paper trail (buying Girl Scout cookies, paying an acquaintance back when it's a larger sum of money than you usually have in cash, paying club dues, etc.)

- small-time vendors who don't want to set up accounts with credit card companies (craft fair vendors, bake sales, and the like)

- mailing money (much safer than cash, and again, paper trail)

- when you have to go through a third party (Alice giving Bob the check to get it to Carl since Bob will be seeing Carl soon, etc.)

- when you're caught by surprise and have an expense larger than the amount of cash you're carrying

They really are on the decline here when it comes to retail, and most restaurants won't accept them anymore.  I use my credit card for almost everything - the only thing I need checks for is my HOA dues, and that's only because I don't feel comfortable leaving cash in the communal mailbox.