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The PJ Tatler

by
Stephen Kruiser

Bio

June 5, 2014 - 7:56 pm

Go back to the 20th Century.

The usage of checks as a payment system has plummeted in the U.S. in recent years. In 2000, checks were used in more than 40 billion transactions, according to a recent report from the Federal Reserve’s Cash Products Office. That number is down to less than 20 billion, according to the Fed’s most recent numbers, which are based on a survey conducted in October 2012.

When it comes to American payment preferences, checks run a distant fourth. (At least when you measure the overall number of transactions. Checks are used for about 19 percent of the value of all purchases, slightly higher than debit or credit cards.)

I wouldn’t even mind people using them at the grocery store (much) if they would just manage to get the checkbook out and start filling out the check before everything was rung up and bagged. Instead, it’s always an adventurous trip through a big purse just to find the checkbook after the bagging is done, as if the payment portion of the trip to the store was a surprise.

This is the kind of thing I should be doing from a chip in my head already. And I want my Jetsons hover car.

Stephen Kruiser is a professional comedian and writer who has also been a conservative political activist for over two decades. A co-founder of the first Los Angeles Tea Party, Kruiser often speaks to grassroots groups around America and has had the great honor of traveling around the world entertaining U.S. troops.
Top Rated Comments   
Sounds like a First World problem to me, Stephen.

You lead a hard life.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're upset about a check writer? What about those people who deign to have a conversation with the checker and the bagger? They actually waste time inquiring about the health and well-being of people whose sole purpose is to get Kruiser out of the store quickly. How dare they treat workers like human beings? O tempore! O mores!
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sigh. Your observation skills are rather undeveloped (or you are a very atypical consumer). The check you write to any high-volume retailer these days is run right through a scanner at the register - and then sent through the exact same system as debit and credit cards, just with a slightly different process at the other end.

But I don't worry about, anyway, go right ahead. Just don't get ahead of me in line - I realized a long time ago that I have this invisible psychic zone around me such that anyone ahead of me in line will inevitably have trouble with their transaction, whether it is finished with check, plastic, or pretty-printed toilet tissue.

Yup, even cash payers - I have had several times where the register drawer locked up on the poor cashier, and took two managers and a call to the District IT department to get unlocked.) Never happens to me, just to the people in FRONT of me.

Wups, except the one time I was apparently having a very "powerful" day, and the transaction servers for the entire city went down... Probably because I had several non-optional, non-delayable purchases to make on that shopping trip.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (44)
All Comments   (44)
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Respect your damn elders!
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
It should also be noted that it is always women of a certain age who do these things. I have observed that people under the age of 35 or so (male and female alike) use their debit or credit cards to pay for virtually everything, rarely handle cash, and probably haven't seen their checkbook since throwing it in the back of a drawer on the day they opened the bank account.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only thing worse than the check lady is the lady in the convenience store who gets the total and it's $18.63 or whatever. But she can't just hand the cashier a $20 bill and take the change and go, now can she? No, she has to peel off a ten and a five and three ones and then rummage through her little change purse to count out five dimes, two nickels and three pennies. And then she looks so damn proud of herself because she was able to provide exact change, completely oblivious to the fact that other people are waiting in line behind her.

Actually, I think the lady that does this in the convenience store is the same lady that writes checks at the supermarket.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
OH, this happened to me last week. I was just trying to buy one thing for a missing ingredient in a recipe I was making. And this lady in front me is standing there while her stuff is being rung up. Then, she gets told the total and then pulls the purse off her shoulder and starts rummaging around for a bit and pulls out a checkbook. Then, starts poking around in her purse looking for a pen to eventually be handed one by the clerk. Then, starts casually filling out the check. At this point I couldn't help to start fuming. I mean jeez, it's the 21st century, get a debit card already.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh... and I miss counter checks! Nothing like knowing your bank account by memory.

When I inherited our family farm this year, I went down to the bank to add my name to the operating account. I thought I must have had the wrong number - it was only 4 digits. Nope, we've had the same operating account since 1902 and it's still the valid number.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
The lady in front of you was most likely my sister. She is 46 years old and developmentally delayed. She is also very good at calculations. When our public schools were preparing her for the "real world", she learned how to use and manage a checkbook and her own bank account for the last 28 years. She has had very few issues over the years and we even put her photo on her checks for added security. Unlike cash, it makes it much more difficult for her to be defrauded.

While some new technology things she picks up very quickly, other things - mostly those that are abstract - don't make sense to her. We have been reluctant to transition her to a debit card. Debit transactions tend to be too invisible to the user and difficult to track in fraud situations.

When we are finally able to persuade her to learn how to use a debit card, she will still be delaying you because she will still be writing down every transaction in her check register before she leaves the line. She's probably more responsible about that than most of us.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting comments all as well as the article. But the simple question is; Why does it bother you that this customer pays for her purchase with a check? What business is that of yours? For a website which attracts so called conservatives and libertarians who espouse concepts such as individualism, individual rights, liberty, and self management you all are beginning to sound a lot like liberals and progressives. Maybe you would be happier if she pulled out her EBT SNAP card? If you are in that big of a hurry go through the self check out lane.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
My first world problem is worse! I was recently in line and the lady in front of me had to break up all of her purchase into separate transactions so that she could use coupons, and then there were several problems with "could she use these coupons at the same time even though she was breaking them into separate transactions" discussion, which then required a manager to arbitrate. More than once. By this time, I was stuck - I had my stuff on the belt, there were two or three large carts behind me blocking me - and although the other lines were moving, they were long and full of big carts as well. And I had the knowledge that even if I were to put everything back in my cart, push the old ladies out of the way and get into another line - it would quickly come to a stop. Because, like RealityObserver - I am a magnet for this stuff in lines.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Finally, someone else is bitching about this besides me. Really, has a cashier ever said, "OK, that's $86.73, but for you, no charge." Have the damn check filled out and just put the amount in when the time comes.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
We love you Kruiser, but really...

PS Usually the issue in the US is getting the check approved. Here my problem is that I always forget that you bag your own groceries.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
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