I do not have a PayPal account.
I eschew making payments over the Internet.
I don’t like $100 bills. My upper limit for currency denominations is $20.
However that doesn’t mean I’m anchored to checks.
I prefer electronic phone transactions as long as the processor doesn’t make me pay for the privilege of doing so — or force me to go online to set up an automatic transfer instead of allowing me to do so over the phone.
I pay all other monthly bills except PG&E and the City of Manteca by automated phone transfers. I don’t do it via PG&E because the last time I checked they had a processing firm that charged $5 for the privilege unless I do automatic transfers. The City of Manteca has a system in place but it is only for exact amounts. I prefer to pay $100 a month even if I owe less for budgeting reasons and end up with a month once in a while when I have a positive balance.
In short, if I’m not charged processing fees I will make electronic payments. As a result my use of checks has plummeted along with outgoing mail.
While I’m part of a trend — the Federal Reserve reported in 2012 they were processing 23.5 million checks a day down from three times that amount 20 years prior — I’m not ready any time soon to toss out my pen and shred my remaining checks.
There are several reasons for that. I’m not thrilled about the concept of being charged to pay in cash. Some stores rightfully add a charge to cover what banks charge them to process ATM transactions — although it is often larger than the cost — it is part of a disturbing trend that those who have come of age in the Era of PayPal miss. The push for consumers to give up paper checks and currency to reduce banking costs and such is coming with a price that we’re paying — a charge to use our own money.
How many times do you see someone swipe an ATM at a 7-Eleven for a $2 item? Their bank account is dinged for the privilege of making that cashless transaction.
I also want a physical receipt. Electronic payments with phone transactions are fine as you get confirmation numbers. But if I drop $65 at Barnes & Noble I don’t want the receipt sent electronically to my email. The reason is two-fold. I don’t want to lose it in all of the email garbage I get or not receive it due to some fluke. I’m not ready to trust a computer — or the people operating a computer — 100 percent. The other reason it is always nice to have a receipt on you in case someone like a security guard checks to make sure you paid for items that you carry out of a store without a bag.
If you think this is about your convenience, the next time a clerk asks if you want a printed receipt or one sent to your email tell them you want both. Most look at you as if you are nuts. One had to check with their manager to see if they could do it. The reason they don’t want to do both is they eventually want to do away with spending money on cash register receipt paper. It’s about their bottom line and not the convenience of the customer.
It is nice to be able to withdraw cash from my bank account 24/7 without having to drive to a bank between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday with extended hours until 6 p.m. on Fridays as was the case 40 years ago. But then again back then you didn’t have to pay to use your own money.
Some may consider not going whole hog with cutting edge payment technologies is a stance that makes you a Luddite.
Far from it. I dropped my home land-line phone 12 years ago. It didn’t make sense. I was spending money on something I didn’t need. The drive to the cashless society is being led by people who ultimately will profit from it. To oppose them is not to oppose the advance of technology but to oppose the creation of a system where it costs money to spend your money once you’ve been weaned or forced to stop carrying cash.
If you don’t think that’s possible then talk to some temporary workers or those who labored at the chain of McDonalds in Illinois who were paid with debit loaded cards instead of by paycheck until a state agency intervened.
It saved the franchisee tons of payroll related costs but every time the worker used the card to access their earnings they were dinged a transaction charge. It’s the same concept of making you pay for the privilege of paying.
Twenty-five cents each time you buy something turns into a lot of money if you are making minimum wage. And if you’re getting the cut of millions of such transaction charges a day it turns into a lot of money as well.
The cashless society — in short — is a nice way of saying the goal is to take more cash from the consumer.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.