Wednesday, February 25, 2009

One Bad Apple

A sure-fire way to get Hubbie on a soapbox is to talk about Americans and their checkbooks.

Most countries did away with paper checks years ago. It is a system they view as archaic and impractical. Americans, for some reason, cling to their paper checks like a baby to a binkie. We insist we are on the cutting edge of technology and lead the world in innovation, yet millions of American refuse to leave the dark ages of checks behind.

I recently sold one of my sewing tables on CraigsList. The list price was $30. The lady showed up, and we chatted agreeably about crafts and the housing market. Everything was fine until she pulled out a $20 bill and said she didn't have enough cash to cover the rest. Could she write me a check?

Everything my parents warned me about taking personal checks screamed in my head. Don't do it!! But. I wanted the damned table out of my house, and I did not want to fool around with trying to schedule a time for her to come back. I'd had a hard time selling it, and I was afraid she would not come back.

So I smiled, told her it would be fine, how I usually wouldn't do this--you know the routine.

Fast forward to a month or so later. We get a letter from our bank with a photocopy of the check. Are you surprised to hear that it bounced?

I'm not. It would have been too good to be true if the woman had actually turned out to have been honorable. It's not like I have never bounced a check before, but that's not the point.

The point is that she has fucked it up for all the other CraigsListers I will deal with in the future. Once bitten, twice shy. I have no problem having faith in the system until someone mucks it up. It was only ten dollars, but I won't let it happen again.

As for the lady? I have to admit it gives me great pleasure knowing that her bank likely charged her a $35 overdraft fee. So my $30 table actually cost her $55. I know I am out the ten bucks, but I actually feel better knowing that I indirectly stuck it to her for writing me a bad check.

10 comments:

Gypsy said...

About the only thing I write checks for is my mortgage, but that's only because I mail it in. I've been using the same book for months and months.

Shame on that lady!

tysdaddy said...

I still have a checkbook, and occasionally write checks to local businesses that know me, but everything else goes on the debit card. It's just safer . . .

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

W.T.F?!?

Dude. We should roll her house...

K-Mom said...

I don't even know where my checkbook is...that's how long it's been since I wrote a check.

Joe said...

uhmmm... but if the check bounced and the bank didn't pay it, she wouldn't get the overdraft fee, right? I dunno... banking makes my brain hurt sometimes.

I write MAYBE one check every couple months. Wife writes 3 to 5 every month, damned if I know why. I RARELY, if ever, carry cash either. I use a debit card about 99.7% of the time.

Deb said...

That's just bad. Why does it make me think it's not the first time she's bounced a check? It sounds like she planned it that way...though the person I am makes me wish it was just an honest mistake.

A Free Man said...

I know, we don't even have a checking account down here. Everything is either cash or debit card. It's kind of nice actually, because I was crap at balancing my checkbook.

hereinfranklin said...

When I'm at the grocery store and the person in front of me pulls out a checkbook, I literally want to scream. In fact, I think there should be an anti-express lane for people who write checks.

Patois said...

Now this is where I revert to a 13-year-old vengeful girl and start having a bunch of catalogs and "free" stuff sent to her address.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

I am in constant amazement, as we travel around the smaller towns in the US, just what exactly you are able to write a cheque for.

It's kind of charming in a "simpler time" sort of way, but ultimately as modern as a butter churn.