Tuesday, February 23

Cancelled Checks?

When you go to nearby Switzerland, you’re always met with a vast number of indicators which demonstrate that you’re truly far, far from home.  Like my 1985 Let’s Go Europe book once remarked, “Switzerland looks like Italy with a construction grant.”
So, you boldly step off the curb and onto brightly painted yellow cross walks, and cars stop (even ahead of time) to let you pass by.

There are the always-filled doggie bag posts everywhere you look, and the newly planted tree in front of my brother’s home where the remains of a properly cut stump (vis a vis a 3ft high one) was left for about 4 months (versus 24 years and counting)…

But, one thing Switzerland and Italy have in common are the ways we make payments.  When you go to the USA, nearly everyone goes shopping for shoes or groceries armed with their pen – and their check book. Dry cleaners even prefer them.  Living in Italy, I’ve forgotten how to write them, and finally did away with them altogether. 

Italians write checks (rarely), printing and stamping all over them, “Non-transferable.”  Problem is, even though cashing those stolen checks is harder than trying to pay for your groceries in large bills, your checks still don’t arrive at their intended destination. 
So, what did those uber-efficient Swiss do?  They went one better than the Italians – they didn’t just curb their check-writing habits, they went cold turkey (or cold swiss cheese on rye)…and stopped the practice altogether.

While my brother pondered how he would send money to the only person in the Helvetica nation without a bank account, I wondered if checks shouldn’t just be a thing of the past.  But then again, I recalled my IBAN number (or Swift code).  Mine, just to confuse all and sundry, has actually the letter O mixed in there with the 17 zeros. 

No wonder Italians don’t make payments swiftly. 


Dave514 said...

Totally off subject: Florentinisms


Just for laughs.


Anonymous said...

"When you go to the USA, nearly everyone goes shopping for shoes or groceries armed with their pen – and their check book"...
Really? What part of US do you visit? Because in NYC checks are almost obsolete when it comes to store purchases!

Anonymous said...

Really?! All parts of the US; Born & raised in Los Angeles, Ca, USA & people still at least have the OPTION to write a check for any/all purchases in the US. Even though it's cousin the Debit card is definitely King; checks are still widely used.