Convenience chain Kum & Go has announced that it will stop accepting checks—in all of the 11 states where it has stores—as of July 1, reports CSP Daily News. This is one of those difficult moves that sounds good in theory. It should play very well with the vast majority of its shoppers who both do not use checks and who also resent waiting in line behind someone who does. But that minority of check writers is likely to be both vocal and angry about a store refusing to accept what is still a legally valid way to pay in the U.S.
"We find that checks result in slower customer service and they also lead to greater complexity in our stores," Megan Elfers, Kum & Go director of marketing and communications, told The Gazette of Eastern Iowa. "Check-paying customers represent a really small but valuable set of our customers. They are less than 1 percent, but we absolutely understand this will be a difficult transition for them."
Although many have long predicted the demise of paper checks in the U.S.—and it is true that they are unlikely to last beyond the next 10-20 years—as long as bills continue to arrive on paper inside envelopes, paper checks are likely to survive. But bill-paying is very different than paying for items in-store, especially in a convenience store, where cash is still king.
Depending on the region, though, this move may not cause as much of a shopper loss as might be expected in other retail sections. That's because it is going to be harder to find convenience stores that will accept checks in the very near future. Checks come with quite a few difficulties. The check-writing process itself is slow, but the verification process makes them far slower than payment cards or cash. And the verification process is based on detecting earlier frauds so first-time check-bouncers will almost always get a green light. That means the higher incidence of fraud with checks makes them truly not worth the effort.
Some convenience chains—such as Road Ranger and Kwik Trip—still accept checks, but the Kum & Go move will likely provide political cover for them to reconsider. Again, it's a regional issue, with CSP Daily News reporting that "many c-store chains with locations in larger markets such as Chicago, New York and San Diego have stopped accepting personal checks."
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