Paying bills by cheque has become a risky business

11 February 2011

We all know the days of the cheque book are numbered. With credit and debit card transactions now the front-runner in payment methods.
The Payments Council (the organisation funded by banks and other payment service providers to set up the strategy for payments in the UK) has decided to abolish the cheque by October 2018.

However, it seems many companies are taking steps to get rid of them now, with everyone’s favourite credit card provider MBNA leading the way.
The card giant appears to be pushing back the posting date of card statements, but bringing forward the payment due date. This means making a payment by post is a race against time. Paying the bill by cheque has become a risky business.
After receiving a late payment charge for a payment posted in line with the five working days MBNA highlights, I mentioned this to a member of the call centre team, who confirmed that reducing the time window was company policy and then suggested I set up a direct debit.

Well, I could but I'd prefer to pay off everything in one go when I receive my bill each month. I’d rather not have to set up a standard regular payment to top up a minimum payment; a process that seems designed to start building the outstanding balance.
I could pay the money at a bank but that still requires four working days and I won't always be in a position to do this. I could pay by phone but the button pushing, inane music, long hold telling you that someone might be free in three to five minutes is an experience I'd rather avoid.
Paying by cheque kept me in control of managing my money but it appears the likes of MBNA want to take this control away.
I can't rely on second-class post anymore or I'll continue to risk late payment charges, even if I comply with the five working day guidelines. Last time I complained about this the £12 fee was refunded but the telephone operative made it clear that MBNA did not feel obligated to do this.
The cheque is being slowly strangled by a firm that was only too happy to fully embrace the  credit card cheque. But then using the credit card cheque put MBNA in control of your money, not you and that's what it wants.