Electronic Checks

I had my first experience with an electronic check today which was a bit different than I remember things. I went to pay for some things I was purchasing and decided to pay for them with a check. Normally, they take your check, place it in the cash drawer and you’re off with your stuff, so I was a bit surprised when the check was handed back to me.

The cashier took the check, scanned it into an imaging device. That device apparantly grabs the image of the check along with the codes and immediately sends it off to the bank (no more check floats, but not a problem since I never did that anyway – the cashier said the money wouldn’t be deducted immediately, but I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be). Then a receipt was printed out which I had to sign which included an ominous statement that had to pay up to 3 times the amount of the purchase if there wasn’t enough funds in my checking account – and my check was handed back to me.

A little research when I got home informed me that the 3 times the purchase price paper I had to sign is part of the California Civil Code that allows retailers to receive 3 times the amount of the purchase in restitution when their aren’t sufficient funds, but it seems to sound worse than it really is. This provision only comes into play when the retailer sues someone whose check bounced – if you the customer makes the payment good before it gets to that stage, there is only a $25 bounced check fee from the retailer (and lots of fees from your bank, so it’s not something you want to do)

It will be interesting to see how this transaction shows up on my banking statement when it arrives and I’m also curious to see how long it takes for the funds to be taken out of my account.

4 thoughts on “Electronic Checks

  1. Sounds like a pretty nifty process they have in place. I haven’t seen anything like that this side of the Atlantic, over here though some banks do offer debit cards linked to checking accounts which is pretty popular. I can’t remember the last time I saw a consumer pay for something with a paper check here.

  2. Yes, I noticed the same procedure at the local Walmart recently. And I did overhear the cashier saying that the shopper’s bank statement would show the transaction as a payment made by check and the # of the particular check.

    However, thinking about it, that doesn’t seem right. What if the same check is used for the same payment method in another store?

    It would be interesting to know what actually shows up in the statement.

  3. Walmart’s been doing this for a couple of years now in Texas, other stores are moving to this practice. The check is just a debit instrument now. We just use our debit card now and dispense with the paper checks. Still carry the check register though to keep up with the debits.
    There are a couple of small business owners who won’t accept debit or credit cards; I suppose it’s because of the fees the banks charge them to use the debits. But they lose so much from bounced paper checks that I wonder if it’s really cheaper for them.

  4. Electronic checks are being used more frequently by the business world. However, personal checks are not even close to becoming obsolete. I own several personal checks websites, and I can say that sales have never been brisker!

    The new trend in personal checks is personalization. People are ordering checks that reflect their passions and interests. People are no longer ordering plain checks from the bank, they are ordering checks that are designer checks with fine art, humorous checks, sports themed checks, anything that makes a statement as to who they are or what they like.

    I’ve had people say they met the love of their life through their personal check. (They both shared the same passion for horses… and he had horses on his checks.) People are always surprised with the comments and subsequent conversations that they strike up when they switch to checks featuring their life’s passions.

    Fun check designs can be purchased online at 50% below the typical bank charges for checks. Huge numbers of consumers are graduating from the plain cheap checks to the fun designer options.

    I know when I’ve had an experience with electronic checks, they still want me to fill out a paper check and then they give it back to me. I don’t see electronic checks eliminating this fun networking option!

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