On Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, I lived my normal life and tried to pay for everything with checks. Almost obsolete thanks to the digital world of credit and debit cards, I speculated whether I’d be able to make very many purchases with them and if things would run smoothly. I had multiple stacks already thanks to paying rent, so I figured, “Why not?”
My first instinct was to go to the grocery store. When I worked at Kroger way back in 2014, we had the occasional elderly woman write a check for her groceries, but I wondered how things have changed since. Would most stores still accept it if I tried?
I ventured to the grocery store, bought a few random things and made my way to the register. To my surprise, the cashier didn’t even bat an eye when I stood there, line forming behind me, and wrote a check for my $12 purchase. She took the piece of paper out of my hand, ran it through her processor, and gave me my receipt. And that was it — I was on my way without any problems.
After that, though, things went a little bit downhill.
I went to Starbucks for some coffee and ordered my drink, and the man at the register told me my total. I whipped the checkbook out of my purse, and before I could even start writing it out, he stopped me.
“I’m sorry ma’am, I don’t think we accept checks,” he said. He was visibly very uncomfortable. I apologized, paid with cash and went on my way.
Just like at Starbucks, everything else was a dud.
The employees at Taco Bell and Speedway both looked incredibly confused and slightly irritated, and I ended up using other methods of payment at both places. Whether these businesses really do take checks or not, I’m not sure of. They may not, or the employees that I ran into may have just been confused.
Checks are dying faster than I thought, thanks to the rise of technology. According to Bloomberg, Americans went from writing between 40 and 60 checks on average per capita in 2000, and were down to less than 40 as of 2015.
Electronic payments are easy. They clear much faster, require less effort, and are better for the environment. Banking apps such as Chase allow people to send money to each other, as well as money transferring apps like Venmo, for no cost.
Checks are just cumbersome and cost money people to pay money.