05:42:32 am on
Saturday 13 Jul 2024

Writing Cheques
Matt Seinberg

How many of us still have to write cheques to pay some bills or give a friend some money? I find it a pain to do that, enter it in the register and keep the chequebook balanced. I prefer to pay my bills on line through my banks payment service, or sign up for automatic payment withdrawals from the service provider.

Cheques are more convenient for once-in-a-while payments.

There are some doctor's offices I only go to once or twice a year, so it's not worth setting them up as a payee at the bank. The gardener prefers a cheque and I pay most magazine subscriptions by cheque as well.

I recently gave a friend of Melissa's a cheque for a concert meet and greet they are going to in June; they still didn't deposit it a month later! I told Melissa to remind her friend's mother to deposit it and she said they did it last night. Now let's see how long it takes to present itself and clear.

Do you remember the days of having to wait 7-to-10 days for a cheque to clear? Now, it usually happens within three days. If you send an electronic payment, the deduction is instantaneous. I like to use Paypal, as possible, which links to my chequing account. With Paypal, you can send money to pretty much anyone as a "Friend," for almost no charge. If a business is getting the money, Paypal levies a transaction fee.

Selling on e-Bay.

I sell things on e-Bay, so two fees are involved. The first is the “Final Value Fee” that e-Bay charges on each sale. Then Paypal takes a cut when the buyer pays for the item. For a $70 sale, I can clear about $64 after all the fees. Although many people don't like the fees, it's still the easiest way to sell your unwanted crap in the house or make some extra money by selling pretty much anything.

I sell sports jerseys as a sideline on e-Bay; with luck, I can double my money after paying the fees. There isn’t much work involved. The hardest part is setting up the initial listing, packing it up and going to the post office. One other nice thing about selling on e-Bay is it offers discounted rates from the USPS.

Before e-Bay, there was your local newspaper "For Sale" section, which listed pretty much anything you wanted to buy or sell. Then you had to deal with people in person, haggle over the price and hope that someone didn't come to your house to rob and kill you.

I sold a couple of cars through the newspaper and even one through Craigslist. I had a couple of responses and the first one to show up got the car after some haggling. I still got the price I wanted.

My daughter, Michelle, has her debit card linked to her chequing account and we recently had a problem. She sent a cheque to a college for the application fee. Instead of depositing her $50 payment, the school debited $200! How they did that I have no idea, but when Michelle called to find out what happened, they said it was the deposit for her acceptance to the school. The only problem was, she wasn't accepted yet! Somehow, after a couple more phone calls, the charge reversed and it hit her account a couple of days later.

It turns out the $200 debit caused the account to overdraft and she was hit with a $34 fee that wasn't her fault. When she called the bank, she found out there wasn't anything they could do since a courtesy refund had issued in February.

When I got home from work, I called the bank and got a very nice young man on the phone; he listened to the story and noticed the debit and the credit. He said he would refund the fee. He put me on hold and every two minutes he came to apologize for the wait; he said he was working on it.

At one point, he said that he had to talk to a supervisor to get it done, since his system wasn't allowing him to do it. After a couple more holds, he came back to tell me it was done and thanked me for my patience. I thanked him for his help. I hope I get a survey so I can give some positive feedback.

When in doubt, don't pay by cheque.

Use your credit or debit card. Shred your cheque book, today.


Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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