Supermarkets Tell Shoppers To Leave Checkbooks At Home

Back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and ATMs didn’t exist, if your cave-dwelling ancestor wanted to get cash in a hurry and didn’t want to deal with bank lines, he’d go to the local supermarket. There, the friendly high-school student at the checkout counter would allow him to write a check for the amount of cash he needed, and give him the cash in return. Today, however, the only people who actually still use those services are characters in a GEICO ad, so it should come as no surprise that some supermarkets are finally giving up on the practice.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Whole Foods is testing the check-free waters in California and Arizona, and the Fresh & Easy chain has already stopped taking checks. “Supermarkets used to be a repository of checking, cashing payroll and personal checks, but in an age of direct deposit and debit cards, that’s not something that is relevant to their customers anymore,” Mac Brand, a food industry consultant whose name we hope is real, told the Times.

Supermarkets, of course, are more than happy to drop a form of payment that slows down lines and leaves them more exposed to fraud than cash and cards. But at least some shoppers may not take kindly to the change. Since many supermarkets also cash payroll checks, customers who use supermarkets as a lower-cost alternative to check-cashing stores may be forced to find other options. Seniors, who have been slow to switch to debit cards, may have a hard time, Consumers Union’s Gail Hillebrand said. Those consumers may just have to switch stores. “Grocery stores are a dime a dozen. If the Albertsons where I shop stopped accepting checks, I would just go to Vons,” one shopper told the Times.

Grocery stores taking check use off shoppers’ lists [Los Angeles Times]

(Photo: mrbill)