Things I’ve Learnt From Ravelry . . . No. 2

7 February 2012

After yesterday’s post, a number of you told me that you write a “thank you” note after an interview or have received one.  I can see my sending a quick email (as that’s usually the method used for job applications nowadays) saying how much I enjoyed meeting them, looking forward to hearing from them etc, but from what I’ve read it’s common to send a printed card in the USA.  Though I did like Lynne’s comment that she sent a card after applying for a job, but as the job involved having the skill to make a good one, I think that was a great idea.

The next thing I’ve learnt from Ravelry (and this subject comes up time and time again) is that in the USA it’s still quite common to use cheques.  After one such discussion, I searched the house for my cheque book and looked to see what usage it had had recently.  I last issued a cheque two years ago, and in the three previous years, I’d issued three – all to the same organisation, which now takes direct transfers.  Most people I know under the age of 40 (and many older than that) don’t own a cheque book and I’ve worked with people in their 20s who have never seen a cheque.  I believe the UK is phasing them out in the next year or so, and Australia is talking about doing the same. 

It looks as though in the USA, people are likely to use internet banking to pay the frequent bills – utilities, rent, mortgage etc – but not to pay the window cleaner, repay money to a friend, buy from Ravelry destashes.  Some people have even mentioned using cheques in shops but I doubt whether the person on the check-out at a supermarket in Sydney would know what to do with one (I’m not even sure if they’ll take cheques any more). 

There appears to be a fear about giving your banking details to someone else which I don’t quite understand.  Every bill I ever receive, whether from a utility company or the electrician, has the details printed as most companies prefer that method of payment (cheaper, more convenient).  Every time I issued a cheque, I gave someone not only all my bank details, but a copy of my signature.  And as one person said to me, I’ll give people my telephone number but that doesn’t mean they can bill their calls to my account.  All money I receive, whether from work, the tax office, friends, comes direct into my bank account. 

I’m not sure why other methods of payment haven’t yet taken over in the US but I think their banking systems are different from those in Australia and Europe.  Would be interested to hear why the difference?



  1. Apologies for the wrong date on this. Should be 8th February. Tried to change it, after publishing the post, without success. I’ll presume nobody cares!

  2. Probably not (the date I mean).

    We have a cheque book – it came with the home loan in 1991 (not the same cheque book we now have obviously). I don’t need to check our cheque book – I know when I wrote my last cheque and the one before, and the one before that, and so on! I have two nieces and one nephew living in country NSW – we send money in the form of a cheque for birthdays because, being so far away, we have no idea what they have or want. So I’ll write one next month, one in September and one in December and that’s probably the extent of the use of our cheque account for 2012!

  3. Yep, since last June (approx) cheque guarantee cards no longer exist, so really cheques are very little used. I the probably the last time I used one would have been to a small craft business at a fair, but I think these increasingly use Internet eg PayPal via an iPad or something!

  4. Well, as I am an American and have always been one, and live in the US, I’ll take this on.

    The reason we still have checks is because we have no mechanism to easily deposit money electronically into someone else’s account. Even when my husband pays our bills online, the credit union sends the party a paper check.

    We rarely use checks too, but there’s no way they could get rid of them right now. (Some) people still get paychecks written on paper. Not everyone has a bank account, particularly poor people.

    Usually when we go to the store, we use our debit card, or we go to an ATM and use our debit card to get cash which we use at places where using a debit card is inconvenient.

    Clearly, our banking system is in the dark ages. But most Americans don’t know this. Most Americans have never been out of the country, and those that have, have only been to Mexico or Canada. Most of us simply don’t know how backward we are in this respect. I have heard no one talking about reforming or updating this aspect of the system.

    Sorry. (Oh no! I’m apologizing for my country! Don’t let any Republicans know!) ha ha

  5. We use cheques for daycare bills, birthdays, payment at craft stalls – the ones that don’t take credit cards – and for setting up direct withdrawals for bills. (Canada)

  6. Interesting topic.
    I work in the US Banking industry so my perspective is skewed. Hmmmm. Well, here’s my 2 cents worth.

    Essentially checks came first so they are well established.
    Until recently (so long as nothing fraudulent was involved), from a merchant’s perspective, checks were a less expensive way to receive payment (and sometimes they still are less expensive).

    However, as noted, not all merchants accept checks now-a-days.
    But if you need to pay your mortgage or utilities, don’t have online access, your credit card is maxed out (or languishing unpaid), or just “don’t wanna” use e-banking, you can still mail in a check to clear the bill. (And yes, in the end, that check will still clear electronically.)

    Mostly I will offer to write a check because I am aware of the cost to the merchant to accept Credit/Debit Cards/Paypal.
    If they’d prefer I give them a check, I will. Most particularly if it’s a smaller, local merchant.

    Credit and Debit cards are convenient and quite useful. And they can be very costly to the merchants that accept them due to the fees assessed by the industry.
    The “bonus” points/services/rebates often paid to the cardholders just for using their cards result in larger credit card processing fees for the merchant.
    That “cost of doing business” cycles back into the cost of the product/service. (Irony abounds.)

    In my opinion, check-use in the US has not been retired because they still work and better options have not been entirely established. Oddly enough, checks still have a generally positive (albeit slow) reputation and they can be a less expensive payment option.

    Yes, we have a long way to go to make any form of payment “safe” and protected from the dishonest people in the world. I rather doubt it can actually be done.

    However, I do believe that check use is dated. (Pun intended.) There are a lot of changes and new technology options (and likely more regulations) on the banking horizon.
    We’ll look back in another 10 or 15 years and realize that checks in the US were retired or morphed into something else and we missed the change. But I’m hoping that the costs will be equally shared, will be reasonable, and will not make me think “Greed happens”.

    I’ll stop now. If you made it this far down, thank you for reading.

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