Banks are bullying older Australians out of using cheques

Article published 18 May 2022

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We all know that cheques are slowly disappearing.

Once a common form of payment, cheques are now responsible for only one in every 500 payments in Australia.

For those who are used to physical banking, business as usual is getting harder, with online banking and electronic transfers replacing traditional withdrawals, deposits and payments in cash and by cheque.

But while the use of cheques is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, it seems it’s not rapid enough for the banks.

As the cost of issuing and processing cheques increases with every bank customer shifting to online banking, banks are intentionally speeding up the demise of the cheque.

One CPSA member reported how frustrating just getting a new cheque book is when the old one is used up.

Her bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, seems to have adopted a tactic of deliberately frustrating its elderly, cheque-writing customers, into going online.

If this CPSA member had a local branch to go to, getting a new cheque book would apparently be easy. Collecting a new cheque book in person would be swift, or so the bank says. It takes a week from asking for a new cheque book to be ready for collection.

But this member lives regionally with the nearest bank branch too far away for someone with mobility issues.

This member was told it would take five weeks for her new cheque book to arrive! Note that collecting in person takes a week, so popping a new cheque book in the mail apparently takes four weeks at the Commonwealth Bank.

Really? With such blatant incompetence it’s a miracle the bank is still in business.

Once the new cheque book did arrive, there were so few cheques in it, this member decided to order another cheque book straight away to make sure she wouldn’t run out.

For those relying on cheques to pay rent, water and electricity bills, this shoddy bank behaviour is a nightmare.

It’s all very well to suggest people should get someone to help set up online banking for them. It’s all very well to point out that online banking is so much more convenient than traditional banking, but the reality is that ‘online’ is and always will be an alien concept to many older Australians.

Banks need to accept that trying to bully and frustrate these older Australians into online banking will not work. It will only cause older Australians misery.

The only tip we can give to cheque users is that you can reduce the number of cheques you write by setting up direct debits from your credit and debit cards by phoning your energy company, water utility and such like.

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