Thursday, October 07, 2010

In warm October sunshine... the Thames Valley, to address a Wives Fellowship group. Topic was "Celebrating traditional feasts and seasons".Very friendly and charming women - delicious tea. General agreemnent re. the worrying trend of families no longer eating together, crucial need to revive and renew traditions, celebrations of the calendar etc. People love discovering origins of pub signs, nursery rhymes, songs etc, and enjoy swapping info on local customs and recipe idea...

The river was sparkling in the sunshine, and although the day had started wet I soon discarded - and wished I hadn't brought - my too-warm padded jacket. Gardens cool and green, late Autumn flowers blooming.

With half an hour to spare before I was due at the meeting, I nipped into a bank to make enquiries about something that has been bothering me - and bothering lots of others - re. abolition of cheques. Yes, this has indeed been threatened by all the major banks, who confidently announced the eventual demise of the cheque-book in three or four years' time. But they haven't thought it out, and there is still time for them to change their minds.

Look. When I go to local group to give a talk, people want to buy my books, and they do so by using cash or writing a cheque. They can also order books from me by post. And they pay for other things in the same way - eg money is collected for a forthcoming outing or event, with everyone making a modest contribution.

"How will this work if cheques are abolished?" I askd. The man was v. nice and trying to be helpful - I had been ushered into a formal office, given every courtesy. "Well, they could go home and make a payment transfer to your bank account by email." That sounds possible: I could write down my bank account details, and they could then also give me a note of theirs, and also of their name and address just in case the payment never reached't it be easier if the pieces of paper we exchanged could just be used on their own, without the need to go home and do things all over again via a computer? We could even give the bits of paper a"cheques" might be suitable.

Another alternative is for me to give my bank details to all and sundry, urging people to publicise them far and wide so that people could then send me money via computer without the need for me to give the information to each person individually. Maybe I should put my account details on a big website and urge people to pay me that way? That would be a great idea, wouldn't it - as I'd have to make sure the details of my account were full and accurate, name, code-number, accout number, everything...

"Well, there is still time for the big banks to have some fresh thinking and change their minds" he said. Quite. Get writing, everyone. Google for the name and address of the HQ of your bank, and write TODAY.


Elizabeth said...

It sounds like a criminal's dream come true! and a consumer's nightmare! I refuse to give my bank details to anyone. Requests for information often come in an innocuous sounding "consumer survey". I haven't heard anything about abolishing cheques here in Canada, I think it would be a disaster.

Anonymous said...

(Sorry if this is a double post. The initial post returned an error message, and so I'm trying again...)

Cheques are hardly ever used on continental Europe (either by individuals or businesses), and you don't see people being robbed left, right and centre. Electronic transfers (and direct debit cards) are much more efficient, convenient and safe. It is just a matter of time of getting used to the idea of making payments electronically (and I can't imagine doing otherwise).

BTW - all you need to provide is your IBAN, and not passwords, codes, addresses or what else. And no, one cannot siphon money from a bank account using IBAN alone. In fact, businesses (big, small and one-man shows) publish their IBAN openly to enable their clients to make payments easily.

Change is always hard, especially if you're used to doing things one way for a long time. In fact, statistics show that in the UK, the usage of cheques has been declining steadily (the only hardcore fans seem to be the Americans. And your bank did a poor job explaining the merits of it, and what you can do in your situation.