Monday, September 17, 2007

People Are Too Stupid To Write Checks

One movement that I fully support, possibly more than I support eliminating animal cruelty, is the near-total elimination of checks. Not checks such as those than can be found in check marks, not those that can be found in "checks and balances," and not the cereal called Chex, but those infuriating wastes of time known as paper checks.

I want to see those things go away more than I want to see homelessness or the human immunodeficiency virus eliminated. Unless you're using them to mail a payment to a creditor, there is absolutely no reason why anyone would still be using checks in 2007. If you're going shopping, leave your checkbook at home, because whipping it out is an automatic signal for everybody who has ever existed to center their most passionate hatred directly upon you.

This is because, almost without fail, anyone who writes a check in a modern retail enviroment is a complete fucking incompetent. Even if this person is normally a highly intelligent person with a respectable, lucrative career and an advanced college degree, as soon as the binding on that checkbook creases, they instantly become the world's most clueless retard. Everyone can see this, and everyone else automatically understands this. No one can explain the phenomenon, but everyone can identify it. The cashier, the people in line behind you, even your own companion — be it a friend, a spouse, or your four-year-old child — begins to think you're an idiot.

This is 2007. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to still be writing checks in retail stores that take cards in 2007. Credit machines are a common facet in just about every retail store, and almost every credit machine can read a debit card, especially if that debit card has a credit card logo on it. Of course, people have a fuck of a time figuring out the basic principles of the whole debit versus credit system. If I was The Count, I still couldn't count how many times a day I watch someone punch their PIN into the keypad at the register and then ask the clerk, "Do I need to sign anything?" NO, YOU FUCKING MORON!! WHEN HAVE YOU EVER NEEDED TO SIGN THE RECEIPT AFTER YOU PUT YOUR PIN IN THE MACHINE?!? You do this all the time; one would think you'd have figured this out by now. You're fucking forty-five years old. You make upwards of $60 thousand a year, and you're dumber than a burlap sack full of third-graders. I should be doing your job because you're a fucking cretin.

Don't even get me started on the intricacies of the technology. This blows minds of even people who work on computers for a living. They swipe their debit card, and the system has an error and declines the card. Immediately they get all indignant. "I know I have money in there!" Like I'm going to judge you. Dude, I'm not here to judge you. I'm here to take your money and give you shit. That is the extent of my relationship with you. So I tell them to try it again and use the credit option and it'll go right through. They operate on two separate networks, and the credit network is more reliable than the debit network. I'm assuming it's because the credit card companies have more money to pour into maintenance and a keener interest in having it done. This fucking baffles people. Okay, the debit network is the Cirrus or Shazam or whatever network your card uses. The credit network is VISA and Mastercard and Discover and such. They're two separate networks, and they use two different lines somewhere along the routing. If one is down, the other will work. Still, this confuses people. Apparently people think that if they use the credit option with their debit card, they're going to get a credit card bill. Seriously. I have to explain to people nearly twice my age that it still comes out of their bank account, it just processes on a different network. Jesus Christ, you'd think someone who's been on the planet nearly twice as long as I have might have picked up on simple banking concepts like how to use a debit card, but I suppose they were too busy watching American Idol and belching "Get 'er done" at each other while I was busy learning things like how my bank processes transactions.

Anyway, as I said, this is 2007, and there's absolutely no reason for people to still be writing checks in a modern retail environment because there are credit / debit machines just about anywhere you go. Not only are cards more convenient, but they're fairly more secure, more businesses trust them, and they're faster than checks. Although, aided by the Check 21 Law, check screening technology is quickly catching up to credit cards so that businesses can know if it's safe to accept your checks before you can even leave the store. The days of floating a check until pay day are over, so you might as well use a card and live within your means.

The only people who should still be writing checks are the ignorant and the elderly who are too slow, too stubborn, or too skeptical to use modern electronic conveniences, and those are pretty much the only people who still are. The elderly aside because I can't really fault them for not wanting to adapt to new technology when they're eighty fucking years old, it's the incompetents whom I can't stand when it comes to writing checks. Elderly people get a way with a lot of stuff due to the assumed natural deterioration of the human body and brain, but when you're in your thirties or forties and you're living in a world where information is literally hurling itself at you, wanting to invade your brain, there's absolutely no excuse for people to be such fucking idiots.

You see, I'm the type of person companies would want to run their cash register, because I don't naturally assume the good in people. I automatically assume the bad. My outlook is that if someone isn't consciously trying to take advantage of you, it's because they're just that fucking stupid. Either way, with every person who approaches me I'm invariably trying to figure out what is their angle. So whenever a person pulls out a check, it's like a warning sign that they're trying to scam the company because the company has no way of knowing that a check is going to clear until it does. Even if it clears the prescreening, all that can actually determine is that they have enough money in their account at the moment. If the check they right in Place A makes it to the bank before the one they've just written in Place B, then they might not have enough to cover it. Knowing that card transactions set the money aside right away and checks set the money aside whenever the bank receives the check, I'm skeptical when someone chooses a check over a bank card. Like, if they know they have the money right now, why would they just use a card? They must know something I don't know.

I think the problem came in when banks decided to hold the stores responsible for a check not clearing instead of the person who wrote the check, leaving the store to track down and prosecute the person who wrote the check because, let's face it, if you bounce a check for a purchase, you've just stolen merchandise from that store. Why even bother with the facade? If you know you're going to bounce a check to get something, just have the intestinal fortitude to walk in and take it. Right? At least you won't be wasting my time and that of everyone behind you in line while you assfuck around with the most time consuming of all financial transactions because you're too pussy to admit that you're a criminal. (I realize that people and banks can make errors that result in the unintentional bouncing of a check; this is directed toward those who deliberately bounce their checks, or try to float them. You know who you are.)

I have never understood why the bank doesn't just prosecute the person who bounced the check. I mean, they have all their money at your institution. You have all their personal information. You know where to find them. Why should the store clerk be burdened with verifying addresses and phone numbers so the store can track these people down when the bank already has all this information at the ready?

Anyway, you would not believe the incompetence that abounds when dealing with checks. People will hand you their check and be utterly dumbfounded when you ask to see their ID. Jesus Christ, did you just fall off he banana boat yesterday, pal? You're forty years old; you had to have been writing checks for twenty years now, haven't you figured out by now that you need to present a photo ID when writing a check? Sorry, no, a better question would be: Why haven't you figured out by now that you need to present a photo ID when writing a check? Now the police are comfiscating ID cards when they issue traffic tickets to ensure that you show up in court, so we get a barrage of people asking if we can accept a traffic ticket as a form of identification. What the fuck? Does it have your picture on it? "Well it has my name on it." Dude, you could have picked that up from your buddy down the street for all I know. Just because you know that it's your name doesn't mean I do. Quite frankly, I don't care either. I don't care if you don't get what you wanted. Stop being such a dumbass. You're too fucking stupid to write a check.

I had someone the other day try to hand me a prewritten check from someone whose name is Christina when this person was quite clearly a Todd. I laughed in his face. I can't accept that. "Why not?" BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT A FUCKING WOMAN!! Remember when I said that I automatically assume that people are trying to take advantage of me? When you are a man who comes into a store with a woman's check, my Spider Sense starts tingling. When the check is prewritten over the amount and you want to get cash back, my scam-o-meter is off the fucking chart.

This is when the begging starts. "Aw, come on, man. I live with her. She's my fiancée. I have court records to prove it. You want me to go get them?" What the fuck. I entertain the guy. He brings back. . . a fucking traffic ticket. Jesus fuck! How is this in any way proof that you know this woman? "Well it has her address on it." SO DOES THE FUCKING CHECK! HOW DOES THIS PROVE ANYTHING BESIDES WHERE SHE LIVES?! "Well, look at the address on my driver's license." IT'S NOT THE SAME ADDRESS!! YOU ARE, LIKE, THE WORLD'S MOST INCOMPETENT CON ARTIST!!

What the fuck is wrong with people, that they don't understand how writing a check fucking works? For all I know, this guy could be her bitter ex-boyfriend who lifted her checkbook right before she kicked his dumb ass out. For all I know, he could have pulled her into a dark alley outside a downtown night club and smashed her face in with a brick and stolen her purse. There's a good chance that he was telling the truth and everything was completely legit, but who the fuck is this guy to just assume that everyone in the world knows who he is, who this Christina person is, and what their living arrangement is? Not only do I not know these people from Adam and Eve, but I don't care to. Most importantly, WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T CHRISTINA JUST GO TO THE STORE HERSELF?! How did these two ginormous wads of tard ever figure that this scheme of theirs would work?

So, yeah, besides the fact that checks are a phenomenal pain in the ass for everyone involved from the check writer, to the store clerk, to the store owner, to the bank, to the people who have to wait in line while the idiot tardfarts around with the complicated form of five essential blanks demanding difficult information such as "date," "amount of sale," and "signature," this is just one more reason why checks just need to go away. People are just too fucking stupid to write checks in public, and they're getting more stupid with each check they pass. It's an interesting paradox, because you'd think that the more they write, the more comfortable with it they'd become until it's nearly as effortless for everyone involved as using cash, but somehow complacency sets in and they start thinking that everyone knows who they are, why should they have their photo ID ready? They know their check won't bounce, so why is this clerk fuck asking their phone number, just in case?

In fact, I am so passionate in my hatred of everything relating to a checkbook that I don't even own checks with my current account. I use solely debit or, on rare occasions, cash. I even pay all my bills online so I can circumnavigate the less reliable practice of sending a check through the mail and not knowing if it got to its destination and processed on time until I get the confirmation a half a month later on the next billing statement. Checks are a thing of the past — a relic. The only people who still use them are the elderly, idiots, and scammers. For everyone else, welcome to the 21st Century. Evolve or die.

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