August 13, 2022

When the finance trade introduced that cheques can be phased out by 2018 there was uproar.

Such was the outpouring of opposition that two years later, the Funds Council was compelled to reverse its determination and promise to maintain the favored paper cost slips for so long as they had been wanted.

However Cash Mail readers at the moment sound the alarm over fears that corporations are as soon as once more attempting to kill off the common-or-garden cheque.

Signal of the occasions:  Readers have sounded the alarm over fears that corporations are as soon as once more attempting to kill off the common-or-garden cheque

Lockdown restrictions induced utilization to plummet within the pandemic, and now a surge in financial institution department closures means prospects are working out of locations to deposit them.

It comes after financial savings establishment NS&I attempted to cease posting its treasured Premium Bond prize cheques, solely to retreat after a Cash Mail marketing campaign.

Final week, Cash Mail Editor Victoria Bischoff raised considerations in her column that cheques had been more and more being seen as out of date by tech-savvy people.

Since then, now we have been inundated with emails and letters from individuals who repeatedly use them to pay native companies, donate to charities and ship as items to kids and grandchildren. 

Some individuals write greater than a dozen cheques a month — and lots of say they’re reassured by how a lot safer it’s to pay this fashion, reasonably than on-line the place cash can disappear on the click on of a button, or by conserving masses of cash of their houses.

Cheque utilization peaked in 1990, when 4 billion had been written, in response to banking commerce physique UK Finance.

In 2010, greater than a billion cheques had been paid in. However this fell to 185 million in the course of the pandemic in 2020, a 32 per cent decline on the earlier yr.

Barclays says the common variety of cheques written by its private prospects is down by 44 per cent in contrast with earlier than Covid-19 struck in early 2020.

At the moment, not one of the Excessive Avenue suppliers presents a chequebook to prospects as normal. Those that need one should make a request.

Some new cellular banks, reminiscent of Monzo and Starling Financial institution, don’t supply a chequebook in any respect.

But regardless of making up simply 1 per cent of all funds, cheques stay very important to 1000’s of individuals.

Landlord Anthony Gianni, as an example, was grateful he had his chequebook to fall again on when repaying his mortgage final October. Anthony, 66, had tried to ship £176,000 electronically to his lender’s HSBC account.

However after checking the identify and account particulars, employees at his native Santander department informed him they couldn’t verify that it belonged to the mortgage agency.

Anthony, who lives in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, says: ‘They mentioned I may nonetheless make the switch but when it didn’t go to the precise account, they won’t have the ability to get the cash again. 

There was no approach I may undergo with it when the danger was on me.’ The one approach he may ensure the cash went to the lender was to ship a cheque.

He provides: ‘It could have taken just a few extra days to clear however not less than I knew that solely Rosinca Mortgages may money my cheque.’

Santander says accounts might not be verified if the identify doesn’t match the account quantity or the place there was a major mistake in both.

Company accounts might not be authorised both as not all are arrange for the Affirmation of Payee safety verify.

‘Cheques really feel safer than on-line’ 

Janice Chapple, from Honiton in Devon, fondly remembers studying the best way to write a cheque within the Fifties, when she was 14.

Her faculty had put aside a double lesson to show the youngsters the place to position the strains and fill in any gaps so the recipient can’t add any further zeros.

Janice, 73, says: ‘Cheques had been used to pay for every part again then.’

The previous postwoman says she all the time stored a clean cheque in her purse for any emergency. 

She says: ‘We didn’t have financial institution playing cards. When you had been on vacation and in need of cash, you would go into any financial institution department and write them a cheque. 

‘They might name your financial institution for a £2 price, describe what you appeared like and take you thru some safety questions, then hand over the money.’

Janice nonetheless makes use of cheques to pay her window cleaner, cellular hairdresser and podiatrist, and to ship cash to charities. She says: ‘It feels safer than on-line funds.’

Compelled out through the again door

The Funds Council, which was made up of shops, transaction corporations and banks, introduced in 2009 that it could be phasing out cheques inside 9 years.

Vincent Saunders, 70, was one among many who wrote to the federal government on the time in protest.

He says: ‘Sure issues can be inconceivable with out cheques. Everybody thinks know-how is foolproof, however they don’t realise how fragile it’s.

‘I needed to pay for an costly cruise by cheque just a few years in the past when the cardboard machine didn’t work, and a invoice within the financial institution when the know-how was down.’ Vincent, who lives in Troon, Ayrshire, says the primary time he purchased petrol for his automobile, aged 17, he paid the £1.43 by cheque.

The previous technical creator says he prefers to not enter his particulars on-line or give corporations his bank card particulars, which might be cloned.

He and his spouse write one another cheques to take to the financial institution department to get money. He additionally makes use of them to assist associates financially by swapping money for a postdated or undated cheque which might be deposited when they’re prepared.

He provides: ‘I hope cheques can be round till I’m in my grave.’

But for the reason that begin of 2020, banks have closed no fewer than 1,268 branches, in response to the buyer group Which?

Some 163 have shut thus far this yr, with 235 scheduled for closure by the tip of 2022.

Morgan Vine, head of coverage on the charity Impartial Age, says: ‘As we transfer in the direction of a cashless society, older individuals who don’t really feel comfy with or assured to make card funds or use on-line banking should not be forgotten or financially penalised for utilizing cheques.

‘Transferring to extra digital types of cost reminiscent of contactless playing cards and on-line banking dangers older individuals being left behind.

‘Companies ought to do every part potential to offer prospects with alternative to stop this from taking place.’

Delayed: The Payments Council, which was made up of retailers, transaction firms and banks, announced in 2009 that it would be phasing out cheques within nine years

Delayed: The Funds Council, which was made up of shops, transaction corporations and banks, introduced in 2009 that it could be phasing out cheques inside 9 years

Extra blanket refusals

An growing variety of companies are refusing to just accept cheques on grounds of value.

Milk & Extra, the most important milk supply service within the UK, informed prospects final yr that they have to place all orders on-line and pay by debit or bank card solely.

When Cash Mail requested 20 of Britain’s greatest insurers, fewer than half mentioned they nonetheless settle for cheques as normal.

The Publish Workplace and Esure refuse this cost technique, as does John Lewis, which says prospects pays over the telephone in the event that they don’t wish to log on.

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Hastings Direct will solely take card funds, as it’s a ‘digitally targeted enterprise’ and buyer transactions are consistent with that.

A spokesman says: ‘Cost card or direct debit processes present our prospects with certainty about when monies can be taken and guarantee their insurance coverage cowl is maintained always.’

Direct Line and Churchill say a small minority of their prospects pay for his or her insurance coverage by cheque, however that is by exception solely.

Axa says it doesn’t settle for cheques for dwelling and motor cowl as a result of it wants the cost on the time of organising a coverage.

But different corporations, reminiscent of Saga, Aviva and Ageas, are capable of settle for them.

Simply two of the 5 largest telecoms firms permit cheque funds for all providers.

Sky prospects can’t pay their payments by cheque, nor can these with BT Sport, Cellular or TV.

TV Licensing will settle for a cheque provided that you pay the £159 price in full. You possibly can pay month-to-month or quarterly by direct debit.

You might be able to pay your vitality invoice by cheque — but it surely may value you extra.

The present value cap for individuals who pay by month-to-month direct debit is £1,971 a yr, primarily based on typical utilization. 

However when you pay by money, cheque or quarterly direct debit, annual funds are capped at £2,101 — an additional £130.

Regulator Ofgem says that is to replicate the extra prices suppliers face to course of these funds.

EDF prospects can pay an additional £100 a yr for his or her invoice in the event that they don’t pay by month-to-month direct debit, whereas E.ON prices £130 extra.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, says: ‘The variety of cheques being written could also be declining however they continue to be a vital cost technique for a lot of older individuals for whom they’re their traditional and most well-liked approach of shopping for items and providers, as has been the case all through their lengthy lives.

‘Many individuals nonetheless depend on cheques as a trusted cost possibility for his or her family payments, in addition to utilizing them for a spread of different functions. 

They continue to be an necessary a part of the funds panorama. It’s vital that vitality firms and different monetary providers proceed to just accept them as cost with out charging extreme charges for processing them.’

Readers have their say 

There are lots of in my age group unable or disinclined to make use of the web, so I proceed to make use of cheques as typically as I can with a view to cease this cost technique dying out.

V. D., through e mail.

Council tax, telephone, water and electrical energy payments are paid by cheque out of precept. I simply need freedom of option to pay how I wish to.

H. F., Devon.

The entire [electronic payment] system collapsed in Specsavers the opposite day, so the one answer was to pay by cheque as I didn’t have sufficient money on me. I don’t write that many cheques however they’re all the time standby.

M. C., through e mail.

Writing cheques is alive and nicely for me. I hate the concept of on-line banking, and phone banking much more so. 

I feel errors might be made too simply. Furthermore, how good should it’s to obtain a cheque within the put up along with your birthday card.

S. C., through e mail.

I nonetheless use cheques wherever potential, as I’m involved that if we lose them, how will our much less IT-savvy inhabitants handle to make funds? 

Use of the debit and bank card doesn’t meet all of the wants of customers and there are such a lot of scams on the market.

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S. B., through e mail.

I’m 77 and can be completely devastated if the banks had been to discontinue cheques, as was being touted for some time. 

I nonetheless have a coal hearth and I depart a cheque for the coalman within the cellar so I don’t want a big money sum available to pay for it.

I additionally use cheques when procuring by put up if I can, which suggests the funds should not taken out of my financial institution till the corporate has despatched my order.

E. C., by e mail.

As an ‘older couple’, my spouse and I nonetheless use cheques frequently and can proceed to take action, regardless of the fixed strain from our financial institution to make use of a cellular app or log on. 

We really feel extra answerable for our funds by conserving to the outdated system.

D. P., through e mail.

I’m slightly over 70 years outdated and like to write down a cheque when paying for costly gadgets. I’m not a whole dinosaur, as I take advantage of on-line banking when it fits me.

S. P., through e mail.

My husband and I avoid web banking and nonetheless rely closely on cheques. Previously month now we have issued eight between us, which is greater than now we have paid on our playing cards.

H. J., through e mail.

I’m 74, pretty internet-savvy and nonetheless trip bikes. I all the time assume that utilizing cheques is safer than financial institution transfers.

R. H., Suffolk.

I reside in rural North Devon the place we solely have use of a cellular financial institution as soon as a fortnight for an hour, so for me cheques are a necessity.

P. H., through e mail.

The benefit of cheques and money is that they minimise the prospect of somebody monitoring how you’re utilizing your cash and the ever-increasing chance of scams and fraud.

R. M., through e mail.

At almost 92, I sometimes must resort to writing cheques as a result of I don’t have money in the home. 

Due to age and previous lockdown restrictions, I’ve not visited cashpoints.

M. A., through e mail.

My late mom was housebound in her final couple of years and she or he reimbursed me month-to-month by cheque for her procuring. 

Ought to I would like the identical care sooner or later, I would want a option to reimburse the individual purchasing for me — and it’s unlikely to be by utilizing aggravating web banking.

J. B., through e mail.

Funds altering with the occasions

It used to take 5 working days for a cheque to clear however because of know-how rolled out in 2019, now you can entry the funds as quickly as the following day, relying on who you financial institution with. 

Many suppliers, together with Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays and NatWest, additionally permit you to take an image of the cheque in your smartphone and deposit it into your account through the cellular banking app.

A UK Finance spokesman says: ‘Cheques stay a valued technique of cost for a lot of prospects and the trade continues to speculate considerably to facilitate their use.’

Nevertheless, Dennis Reed, from the marketing campaign group Silver Voices, says he worries that banks try to section out cheques altogether.

He says: ‘Banks used to ship out chequebooks frequently, however now it’s a must to request them and they’re much smaller. In addition they cost charges for small companies — it prices me 70p to deposit every membership cheque.

‘They’re taking part in the lengthy sport by discouraging utilization so in the future they will flip spherical and say we now not want them.

‘There could also be solely a small quantity of people that use them repeatedly however they’re those who depend on them.’

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