Cheques: inefficient, costly and slow, but still a delight

Published on 9 May 2011 in , , ,

Recently I received a cheque in the post. It was royalties for the two books I’ve published for the Amazon Kindle.

Blankety Blank Cheque Book & Pen

Photo by Bill McIntyre. Creative Commons licensed.

It was all very exciting. And great. And I waved it around a lot and went “Wahoo!”.

Then I put it down on the table and left it there until I had chance to pay it in.

I don’t live nor work particularly near a branch of any bank or building society. Colliers Wood is completely bank free, and White City has, well nothing. True, there’s various branches nearby in Wimbledon, Morden, Tooting and Shepherds Bush but as I don’t often pop to them, it means I have to do a special visit.

Hence it took me a month to finally get round to visiting Morden’s tiny branch of the Nationwide Building Society to pay it in. Then I got home, spotted that Amazon had changed things so that UK publishers can get money paid direct into their bank accounts, and shoved in my bank details. Two days later I got an email telling me another months worth of royalties had been deposited.

It didn’t seem anywhere near as exciting. There was no rustling of envelopes; no confused look as I opened it going “What on earth is this?!”; and no whoop of joy as I realised someone had given me money. It was just a click, another click and a “oh, that’s nice” and then I got on with my life.

Direct deposits just aren’t the same, especially not at birthdays. This is no doubt why, if my parents ever bung me some cash in celebration, they put it in my bank account but send a fake “cheque” in the envelope, from the “Bank of Mum and Dad”.

Of course, we all know cheques are inefficient and costly. Amazon knows this, which is why they won’t send cheques out until £100 worth of royalties have been accrued (recently increased from £75). In contrast, for a direct bank deposit they will send it out once you’ve got a measly tenner. It’s a no-brainer.

But with efficiency, maybe we’re losing a little part of the surprise and delight that makes life worth living.