Check, please

Every Thursday, my mom would pick my sister and me up from school and we’d head to the Pathmark in Linden to do the weekly grocery shopping. My dad got paid on Fridays, so she would write a check. She knew the money wouldn’t come out of the family checking account before my dad deposited his paycheck.

This was back in the 70s, before plastic became a popular form of payment, so it was either check or cash. No one got impatient as my mom filled out the check when the cashier totaled her order. Today, it’s a different story.

The other day I was in line behind a woman-about my mom’s age-writing a check for her groceries. It was taking a long time as it seemed that the cashier had actually forgotten how to process a check she hadn’t seen one in so long. The crowd, including me, was becoming a tad restless.

It got me to wondering how long checks would be around. While there are still some customers who prefer writing a check to swiping their debit card, I honestly could not remember the last time that I had been behind someone writing a check for their groceries.

Is the check dead? Not yet, but some grocers may wish it were. The actual cost of a check transaction can be quite high compared to other forms of payment when retailers factor in the cost of handling banking deposits and processing checks returned for insufficient funds or fraudulent activity.

But while it may be tempting to stop accepting checks, retailers also have to factor in the impact it will have on the loyalty of some customers. If you won’t take their check, the supermarket down the street just might.

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