Remember the days when you wrote a check for everything? (For those of you not in the United States, that’s a cheque.) Paying the monthly bills (utilities, rent, credit card payments, car payments, etc. etc.) was just part of it. Every time you went out, you carried your checkbook with you, along with an extra pad of checks in case you were running short, plus a pen because they wouldn’t always have one that worked where you were buying something (specifically the grocery store) and, of course, enough forms of ID so that you could prove that yes, you were the same John Holton (or whatever your name happened to be) who was presenting your check to them. Every place had a different list of acceptable ID. The one that almost always got accepted was a driver’s license or a state ID, but there were some places that went further, requiring at least one credit card, and not just any credit card, a national credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express, Diner’s Club, Carte Blanche, Discover, a gas station credit card etc.), retina scan, blood sample, fingerprint… in other words, more ID than you needed to vote. When I sold clothes in college, they had a book by the register of people who were suspected of passing bad checks, and you had to look them up in the book to see if they had passed a bad check, and if they did you had to get a manager who would then tell them their check was no good.
The purpose of putting a shopper through that amount of grief was to convince them to apply for one of the store’s credit cards….
I don’t think Mary and I have written an actual physical check for anything in the last five years, since Mary’s Avon Lady passed away. We pay everything with a credit card, then pay the credit card electronically at the end of the month. I think most people do that now, much to the chagrin of Harland, Deluxe and other companies that used to print the checks…
Linda Hill runs Just Jot It January.