Used for centuries, end of lifed October 31st 2018 - The Cheque
December 17, 2009 3:55 AM   Subscribe

They were first known as "Praescriptiones" and used by The Romans from around 100BC 1. Employed by Perisans of the Sassanid Dynasty during the third century, they were then known as "Saqqs". They have been found in Egyptian ruins dating from the 12th century, about the same time as The Knights Templar bolstered their use by issuing written instruments, redeemable for cash to pilgrims bound for holy land bound. Even so, it took another five centuries for the cheque to be adopted by England.

Closely related to Bills of Exchange, cheques were originally issued by Goldsmiths, who allowed depositors to issue negotiable claims - cheques - against gold held on deposit. Later codified by successive acts of Parliament, cheques have remained largely unchanged for centuries. In fact the last big innovation we've witnessed with cheques was the introduction of magnetic ink some 53 years ago.

However with the rise of electronic payment systems cheque use has declined sharply, to the point where The Payments Council, the organisation responsible for operating the UK's interbank payments systems, will retire cheques effective 31 October 2018 .

Pensioners and others critical of bankers were unimpressed by the move, while banks supported the idea, citing the high per cheque processing cost.

1 as documented by Durant in The Story of Civilization, Vol 3, Caesar and Christ.
posted by Mutant (43 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
The backlash from pensioners is inevitable, but we mustn't listen. Remember, they're the same people who want to bring National Service and make us all eat overcooked meat and mushy carrots.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:15 AM on December 17, 2009


Awesome post. Thanks, mutant.

FWIW, Wikipedia has a fairly good article on negotiable instruments, which covers the basics of "negotiation," i.e. the process of transferring one of these instruments from one person to another, which constitutes the main part of their function.

Since the he gave one of the better answers, I'm assuming the OP had this recent AskMe in the back of his mind when formulating this post.
posted by valkyryn at 4:18 AM on December 17, 2009


Here in Jay-pan-land there are no checks (cheques), only direct bank transfer and a very robust and frequent use of cash, sometimes in surprisingly large amounts.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:20 AM on December 17, 2009


Great post, very interesting subject.
I've visited Pingyao which used to be one of the centres of banking in China and has some museums on the history of paper money, bills of exchange etc. as they were used in China's early, very developed, commercial economy. Can't recall the exact details now so had a quick look around the 'net and see that there were 银票 yinpiao and 交子 jiaozi being issued back in the Northern Song (which is also claimed to have seen the first paper money) which are sort of analogous, I think.
posted by Abiezer at 4:26 AM on December 17, 2009


One of those Egyptian checks is still open and has been accruing a 30% interest rate for 900 years.

But they got killer frequent flier miles and a personalized tote bag.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:29 AM on December 17, 2009


Not far behind, the elimination of cash.
posted by digsrus at 4:49 AM on December 17, 2009


As a recent transplant from San Francisco to London, I do have to say that they are much further along over here on the way to a cashless society.

Checks aren't used for anything. Your rent is payed by a standing order as are utilities and other ongoing transactions. Debit cards are used everywhere - a restaurant for example will have waiters who carry around those little wireless machines where you enter your card and PIN and it verifies your transaction instantly. Its all done in front of you so no kid-disappearing-with-your-credit-card-into-some-back-room like they have in the States.

I still carry cash but mainly for small transactions like grabbing a coffee or a newspaper or milk at the corner market.
posted by vacapinta at 5:08 AM on December 17, 2009


Great post, Mutant thanks!

I can see why it'd make sense to abolish cheques, but I'd have two concerns: 1) pensioners who can't/don't want to bank online, and 2) the kind of organisation to whom I still pay cheques (and I use direct debit/standing order/bank transfer where I can), i.e. small charities and membership organisations who can't afford the infrastructure to take debit card payments, and for whom receiving bank transfers is a pain because of lack of dedicated personnel to deal with it.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:17 AM on December 17, 2009


So I know the US is backwards in this department so I know I'm coming off as an ignoramus here but I just don't get how you can expect to carry on everyday life without checks. How do you pay the landlord? If I go to my bank's website and enter an electronic payment, it will result in the bank printing out a check and mailing it in an envelope to my landlord, so I just skip that step and mail it myself. But how would this transaction work in the UK? Would I need to know their bank name and account number, and then go to my bank's website and key in a payment? Doesn't giving out your bank account number to everyone represent a serious security risk? (Here at least if I had someone's routing number and account number I could go to town making all sorts of fraudulent payments from their account.) What if I don't know any numbers, and just have their name, what then?

And don't even get me started on the huge number of people in this country that still write checks at the grocery store. They aren't all geezers or luddites either; for whatever reason some people seem to prefer this method even though I'm sure they've all got at least a debit card and likely a credit card as well.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:21 AM on December 17, 2009


If I go to my bank's website and enter an electronic payment, it will result in the bank printing out a check and mailing it in an envelope to my landlord, so I just skip that step and mail it myself. But how would this transaction work in the UK?

That's pretty hilarious. Do they use carrier pigeons to carry the check? The bank-to-bank transfer system in the UK sends the money using this thing called "electricity". It's actually been revamped relatively recently so payments to accounts held by different banks now happen within a few minutes rather than taking 1 to 3 days. So I log on to my internet banking, send a payment to, say, my girlfriend's account at a different bank, and five minutes later she can log on to her account and see the transfer has arrived. It's cool.

To pay rent in the UK, you'd usually log into your online banking, and set up a "standing order", that's an automatic payment that goes to another account on a set date every month. They can be set up to continue indefinitely or stop after a set number of payments.

Doesn't giving out your bank account number to everyone represent a serious security risk? (Here at least if I had someone's routing number and account number I could go to town making all sorts of fraudulent payments from their account.)

The only way to make fraudulent payments would be to use their debit or credit card, and for that you'd either need the physical card (if paying in person) or the card number, security code (not the PIN, but a 3 digit number on the back of the card) plus name and address (if ordering something on the internet). There's not really anything you can do fraudulently using just the bank account number and sort code.

What if I don't know any numbers, and just have their name, what then?

You ask them for their account number and sort code.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:32 AM on December 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


So I know the US is backwards in this department so I know I'm coming off as an ignoramus here but I just don't get how you can expect to carry on everyday life without checks. How do you pay the landlord? If I go to my bank's website and enter an electronic payment, it will result in the bank printing out a check and mailing it in an envelope to my landlord, so I just skip that step and mail it myself. But how would this transaction work in the UK?

You can also just give your card number/details in person, and sign a sheet to agree that they can deduct £X on the first day of every month (or whatever). It's really easy, and I think people who complain that "pensioners can't do online banking" are muddying things, as you don't ever need to use a computer at all. People who use checks are kinda weird and backward, like those people who insist on measuring things in yards and fluid ounces.
posted by Sova at 5:37 AM on December 17, 2009


Oh, and for the non UKers, the difference between standing orders and direct debits is:

Standing orders are when I SEND money to another account. They are automatic, monthly payments. The are amount is set by me, and they are essentially the same as me manually making a bank transfer every month.

Direct debits are when a company TAKES the money from my account every month (or quarterly or whatever). Kind of like an automatic debit card payment. The amount can be the same or it can vary (e.g. with an electricity or phone bill which might vary with usage). There is a "direct debit guarantee" which says that if there are any fuck-ups with direct debits (e.g. misplaced decimal places meaning £400 is taken out instead of £40), you will be immediately refunded in full. Direct debits can also be cancelled by me at any time (through online banking or in a branch or whatever) should I wish, although with bills, the company who is billing you will obviously want you to keep paying some other way.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:40 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Several of the recent comments upthread (concerning direct debit and bank transfers) from UK people hold true for Japan as well, and I have to say, after 14 years here of not having to scrawl out checks for this bill and that bill, and putting them in envelopes and sending them here and there have been just fine with me. What a pain in the ass, all those checks. They're time-consuming and wasteful, and just stupid, really.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:47 AM on December 17, 2009


How do you pay the landlord?
Same way as I pay my mortgage, life insurance, homeowner's insurance, taxes, electricity, mobile phone and internet bills: by direct debit or standing order, as other commenters have mentioned. (This is in France, by the way.) It's terrifically easy, quick, and reliable. Plus I can cancel standing orders whenever I want/need to. And they're free.

Would I need to know their bank name and account number, and then go to my bank's website and key in a payment? Doesn't giving out your bank account number to everyone represent a serious security risk?

Yes, you need to know their bank name and account number. You can then go to your bank's website and enter in a one-time payment, or enter a recurring payment, which you can cancel at will. Giving out your bank account number is only dangerous in countries where doing so means anyone with your account number can access your funds — this is not the case in Europe.

Here in France, to automate payments, we have things called RIBs (pronounced reeb), relevé d'identité bancaire, or "bank ID statement". On the RIB are the bank's name and your name, along with four different codes: bank (national), agency (local), account (personal), and a "key" (sort code). Each RIB you give out for making an automatic payment can only be used in conjunction with a (one-time) written and signed authorization to your bank. For a single payment, this authorization includes the amount and the fact that it is a one-time payment; repeat payments will not be authorized. For direct debit, the authorization says something along the lines of "Tax administration/Company/Person X has the right to withdraw from my account. I reserve the right to cancel this authorization at any time, without notice. I am responsible for any penalties incurred with regard to the recipient if this results in non-payment of funds due." (There are pre-printed authorization forms available, I've never had to write one myself.) With a RIB, only funds you authorize in writing can be taken from your account. Any random Joe or Jane who, say, steals a RIB, can do precisely nothing with it.

I speak from experience: my wallet was stolen two years ago (yep, just before Christmas). In it were cash, my debit cards, ID, and a RIB. The only thing I lost was the cash — my wallet was later returned to a lost and found station with everything else still inside. Debit and credit cards here are secured with chips and can only be used when your PIN is keyed in. Since there's basically no such thing as credit ratings (by law, mortgages cannot be more than 33% of your net income; you have to provide proof of income and divulge other debts when applying for credit) and, as you can see, you can't easily access someone else's bank account, there's very little incentive for stealing someone's identity.

What if I don't know any numbers, and just have their name, what then?
Ditto what EndsofInvention said, modified for France: you ask them for a RIB. I can print out RIBs by logging into internet banking; my bank has also supplied me with a nifty credit-sized plastic card that has my RIB info on it so that I can just write it down if needed.
posted by fraula at 5:47 AM on December 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bravo on this. I support this notion specifically so I never again get stuck behind someone at the supermarket paying by check.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:53 AM on December 17, 2009


Do they use carrier pigeons to carry the check?

Oh, it gets worse. My bank (Bank of America) just spent god knows how much money upgrading what must have been tens of thousands of ATMs with optical scanners and OCR software, so now when you want to deposit a check you just slide it in and it figures out the rest. Before that you had to manually key in the amount and presumably a local branch employee was required to later verify/finalize the transaction, but with the new ones it posts instantly. (I presume a human is still involved at some point for verification, though possibly that human could be some offshore slave labor since it has the scanned image of the check.)
posted by Rhomboid at 5:55 AM on December 17, 2009


Also, it's kind of funny to hear these concerns about banking security. Dudes are paranoid about this kind of stuff here.

To add to enlightenment for the US folks (I transplanted here 3+ years ago), when you initiate a new bank transfer to someone you also use a little keycode generator. It kind of looks like a calculator. You stick your card in it, verify it's yours, sync it with the online system and it spits out a numeric code that you put into the online form. Sounds complicated but it's pretty easy peasy and adds an element of security.

For online banking,
When I want to log into BofA:
1) Username
2) password
3) state
(They also have this little picture passcode thing but that's just to tell you that you're on a secure website. It's not to verify that you are you.)

When I want to log into NatWest:
1) Customer number (your birthday followed by a 4 digit number)
2) Randomly generated prompt asking you about your PIN - ie what is the 1st, 3rd and 2nd numbers?
3) Randomly generated prompt asking you about your Password - this is yet another password and it is longer than your PIN and again asks in the form of "What is the 4th, 2nd and 7th characters?"

I seriously had issues just logging into my account for the first year but at least I never worried about security.

Also, I have not used a check since I moved here.
posted by like_neon at 5:55 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


2) Randomly generated prompt asking you about your PIN - ie what is the 1st, 3rd and 2nd numbers?
3) Randomly generated prompt asking you about your Password - this is yet another password and it is longer than your PIN and again asks in the form of "What is the 4th, 2nd and 7th characters?"


Yeah its such a pain in the ass to log into my NatWest account.

But the brilliance of the password fragments questions is that if someone somehow intercepts your logon (keylogger, looking over your shoulder etc.) the info they gain will likely be useless for the next logon.
posted by vacapinta at 5:59 AM on December 17, 2009


Oh, and another thing on this whole pensioner issue: M&S don't accept checks. M&S! If the customers of M&S are savvy enough to get by without checks when buying their knickers, I have a hard time believing anybody is too old to learn.


Mutant, The Daily Mail reckons checks were invented by the Romans. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt, but you know, they're usually pretty good with factual reporting.
posted by Sova at 6:04 AM on December 17, 2009


But the brilliance of the password fragments questions is that if someone somehow intercepts your logon (keylogger,

Plus, all my online banking password fragment questions use 0-9 or a-z drop-down menus so even a keylogger would be useless.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:10 AM on December 17, 2009


Oh and in terms of account numbers and sort codes (which is sort of like a routing number) the only thing I can tell they are good for is receiving money. It doesn't help in accessing the account really. At least, not that I know of. I can barely remember how to get a hold of my own money.

Just one more thing about bank security here. When you get a new card the card comes in one envelope and the PIN comes in a different envelope (which I've had come days later) and the PIN is on a little secure carbon copy thing you have to first pull away the paper tab and then scratch with a coin. And then you can change your PIN right away at an ATM.

I love the chip and PIN system here and it has allowed me not to carry any cash for weeks. They just need to make them more available in taxis, like in all the other european cities I've been.
posted by like_neon at 6:17 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love the chip and PIN system here and it has allowed me not to carry any cash for weeks. They just need to make them more available in taxis, like in all the other european cities I've been.

Yeah the only thing I use cash for really is the bus. Just this morning I was fantasising about Brighton getting an Oyster card equivalent for the buses.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:23 AM on December 17, 2009


Now, at last, I know what all those rappers were talking about when they mentioned earning "fat saqqs" of cash.
posted by Eideteker at 6:36 AM on December 17, 2009


London resident here, and I've written a *lot* of cheques recently, which include:

* My singing teacher. Standing order wouldn't work for him, since I see him at irregular intervals.

* Craft fairs, where the bigger traders have PIN machines, but the smaller ones don't

* Antique markets, ditto

* Places outside of London where not everyone takes cards and there sometimes isn't an ATM for miles

Also, come to think of it, a lot of my students pay me in cheques. For a student, writing someone a cheque and saying "don't pay it in till next week" is an easy way of making sure they don't go too badly overdrawn. What are they going to do?
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:49 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


all my online banking password fragment questions use 0-9 or a-z drop-down menus so even a keylogger would be useless.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:10 AM


'Fraid not; this is well within the abilities of the better keystroke logging software. Modern snooping software tracks mouse clicks and on-screen objects too; it would have to be a graphically based and randomized on-screen keyboard to be protected from those. If the logger is taking screenshots it still may be able to get your password off an image-based keyboard, but that would probably require effort on their part to put together the results.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:04 AM on December 17, 2009


Huh. I live in the US and I pay my rent by direct bank transfer. Didn't realize it was weird.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:11 AM on December 17, 2009


If I go to my bank's website and enter an electronic payment, it will result in the bank printing out a check and mailing it in an envelope to my landlord, so I just skip that step and mail it myself. But how would this transaction work in the UK?

Canada also does it the UK way. Printing checks is archaic!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:29 AM on December 17, 2009


I'm in the US, and have finally gotten to the point where the only che(ck|que) I need to write is to my lawn guy once a week. All of my other bills can be paid online.
posted by mrbill at 7:32 AM on December 17, 2009


i too, never use cheques here in London. i have like a batch of 200 somewhere underneath my bed, and haven't used more than maybe ten in my 7 years here?

that said, i'll still be a bit nostalgic to see them go. what will i ever use my carefully practiced signature for now?

what i'll be really impressed with though, is when i can use an international billing address to buy something from the US via a (global) internet site. hellloooooooo 21st century?

sorry, that's just a seasonal gripe of mine. sigh.
posted by wayward vagabond at 8:52 AM on December 17, 2009


Yeah I don't think I've ever seen someone pay for their groceries by cheque (here in Canada). I'm not sure they'd even accept it.

That's actually something I thought only happened in movies, I'm kind of embarrassed to say. People really do that?
posted by mannequito at 8:57 AM on December 17, 2009


People really do that?

Two days ago, at Publix. In the express lane. Ugh.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:22 AM on December 17, 2009


When I was a kid and we didn't have much money, my mom would often make ends meet by writing "bad" checks.

Say Thursday at midnight her paycheck was deposited. If we ran out of food on Wednesday, she would go to the market and write a check after 2pm. Even if it were deposited that afternoon, it would be registered as a Thursday transaction. Since banks count credits before debits (or did at that time anyway), the checks would always clear and we would always make it through the lean week.

I remember when Wal-Mart started scanning checks to see whether the money was in the account. They billed it as speedy-check-writing, but it was clearly to stop bad checks. I don't know what we would have done if we were still eking out the same living.

I think this move could be hurtful to a lot of vulnerable people.
posted by jefficator at 10:26 AM on December 17, 2009


And I'm sorry but I just don't like giving creditors my bank account information. You are handing them all the power and ensuring that they will get their money at your expense.
posted by jefficator at 10:27 AM on December 17, 2009


Last week I needed to write out a very large cheque for a deposit on a house. I couldn't find the chequebook, and when I did, the last butts told me I hadn't written a cheque in six months, and then the next one was a year before that. That's how often I need cheques in New Zealand. Almost all funds are transferred electronically. Some retailers here, notably petrol stations, don't even take cheques any more because they have such a high fraud rate.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:33 AM on December 17, 2009


I'm in Texas (Austin, not a big metro area) and I rarely write checks any more. Rent and occasionally money to friends (e.g., paying back for concert tickets bought en masse), and very occasionally something medical, but everything else accepts credit or debit cards on has online payments. When we lived in suburban New Jersey, the apartment complex management company let you pay online but they charged $25 for the privilege, which made it worthwhile for me to walk down and pay rent with a check.

It took me more than a year to finish out my final checkbook from New Jersey after I moved to Texas. The other thing I never use any more is stamps, which were mostly for paying bills; I'm still using the last stash I had from before the price went up, whenever that was. I just use two stamps because it's cheaper than the hassle of getting new ones.
posted by immlass at 11:43 AM on December 17, 2009


Don't get me wrong, I'd like nothing better than to chuck the checkbook. But I have three major problems with electronic payments as they exist currently, for me.

1. Often, there is no way to authorize that an institution only take a certain amount, at a certain time. Once they have the info there's nothing to stop them from taking as much as they want. And most businesses I deal with, this isn't going to generally be a problem. But what about their backend systems? I'm not in a position to see how secure they are, nor am I prepared to calculate the odds they'll have a billing error someday (the most likely bad outcome). If accidentally more money is withdrawn than is supposed to be, it's my problem. I have to sort it out and I don't have access to the money while it's being resolved. And, what if I want them to stop but they won't? If we did transfers as a "push" instead of a "pull", no problem.

2. Timing. I don't always want to pay on the same day, depending on circumstances. A lot of systems don't allow me to choose when I want something to be paid.

3. In the states, a lot of institutions want to charge me extra for the convenience. Sorry, but I'm not going to cough up extra dough to make your job *easier* by not pushing around paper. Reminds me of the surcharge for touch-tone dialing instead of pulse. The phone company actually preferred DTMF because it didn't tie up the switching equipment as much.

Credit card payments for me solve the security problems. It's like an escrow company. I understand that the systems available elsewhere in the world allow payments to be initiated by the payer rather than payee which seems to be a really good thing.

I just don't want to get into a situation where I'm overcharged and that money's just *gone* until I fight to get it back. A credit card, no problem--there's a buffer there and there's always the dispute resolution, etc. But a company holding more of my money than they should be is really not going to be nearly as motivated to give it back quickly as I am to get it back quickly, and as such will often not exactly move mountains on behalf of your piddly little account (little to them, possibly quite large to you!) I want their mistakes to be *their* problem, not *my* problem.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 2:10 PM on December 17, 2009


WRT point one, that shouldn't be necessary. In my country we distinguish between an "automatic payment" and a "direct debit authority". Direct debit allows another party to debit your account, and I agree that's bad, but you can always use an automatic payment instead. With automatic payment, a fixed amount set by you is transferred on a schedule set by you -- the other party can't change it and can't access money from your account.

WRT point two, my bank lets me schedule one-off payments via its internet banking service.

It seems like retail banking services in the US really need to catch up with the rest of the world.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:24 PM on December 17, 2009


It seems like retail banking services in the US really need to catch up with the rest of the world.

They will as soon as they figure out how best to screw us while doing so.
posted by cairnish at 3:47 PM on December 17, 2009


Why should they innovate when they can just keep on issuing 27% APR credit cards and rearranging the order that transactions post in order to line up multiple simultaneous $39 insufficient funds fees like some kind of sick game of Uno.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:18 PM on December 17, 2009


As a recent transplant from San Francisco to London, I do have to say that they are much further along over here on the way to a cashless society.

It might interest you to know that the system in the UK is considered to be archaically backward in places like Asia, NZ & Oz.

Paying stuff like rent by automatic transfer has been standard in this part of the world for decades [way, way before the internet was widely available].

Moving to the US was like going back to the dark ages.
I have to pay my rent with a cheque every freaking month???
What are these places that cash cheques about [who does that anymore]?
What's with all the filling out forms and standing in queues?
Electronic funds transfer - hello! hello! anyone there?

Seriously America - you did well with a decimal currency, even if you forgot to put numbers on the coins, but pounds, feet and ounces? No universal healthcare? Banking stuck in the 1950's? Creationism? No sick leave?

When did the modern world start to pass you by?
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:44 PM on December 17, 2009


twoleftfeet: One of those Egyptian checks is still open and has been accruing a 30% interest rate for 900 years.

Breakfast at Milliways, here we come!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:49 PM on December 17, 2009


When I was a kid and we didn't have much money, my mom would often make ends meet by writing "bad" checks.

Say Thursday at midnight her paycheck was deposited. If we ran out of food on Wednesday, she would go to the market and write a check after 2pm. Even if it were deposited that afternoon, it would be registered as a Thursday transaction. Since banks count credits before debits (or did at that time anyway), the checks would always clear and we would always make it through the lean week.


You can actually do something similar with debit card transactions (or could when I was a student anyway which, admittedly, was about 7 years ago now and this may have changed post Chip and Pin).

Basically we spotted that a lot of big places where speed-through-tills was a concern didn't do "live" transactions. Up to a certain cash limit, they'd verify your identity but the actual money-exchanging transactions would be queued up and done as a bulk transaction at something like 1:30am in the morning the next day. Thus shaving precious tenths of a second of your time at the till.

So, if we knew that one of us was getting paid at midnight, we'd go into a supermarket and shop until we were just below that store's live transaction point and then pay by debit card, safe in the knowledge the payment would go out after money had gone into that account (and thus avoiding a fine for not having funds in the account to cover the debit transaction).

I used to know the live transaction limits of a whole bunch of shops by heart - they were all around the £20-30 mark. Only one I can actually remember though is Iceland (a supermarket chain here) as we used to do it at the branch next to my house a lot - that was definitely £20.

To be honest I suspect a similar situation still exists in various shops - I know that most rail companies do something similar at busy stations as often if I pay by debit for a ticket I notice that the actual payment doesn't come out until early the next day.
posted by garius at 3:44 AM on December 18, 2009


Rikitikitavi: In the states, a lot of institutions want to charge me extra for the convenience. Sorry, but I'm not going to cough up extra dough to make your job *easier* by not pushing around paper.

Funny, it's exactly the opposite here in the UK - you can often get a decent discount by paying by direct debit and/or going "paperless". Of course, people are whining about that, too.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:22 AM on December 18, 2009


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