Don’t Do Us Any Favors, Banks

Recent newspaper items, including “Some Consumers Resist End to Canceled Checks” (For What It’s Worth, April 15), report the intention of banks to discontinue the practice of returning canceled checks to their customers.

We are told (by the banks) that this change is really to the customer’s advantage--thus demonstrating at least one thing politicians and bankers have in common: a basic conviction that the people they (allegedly) serve are composed primarily of those who aren’t very smart.

For example, the column quoted a bank’s executive vice president offering one reason why people want their cancelled checks returned: ". . . psychologists and psychiatrists say they just want to shuffle those pieces of paper.” The only “pieces of paper” I want to shuffle are the pink slips of bank employees who would insult my intelligence by quoting such drivel. The column also quotes a Citicorp spokesman delivering another profundity: “All our research indicates customers want an adequate substitute for their checks . . .”


Please inform this Deep Thinker that customers want no substitutes, “adequate” or otherwise, for their checks. They want the actual checks themselves, and the Deep Thinker, and employer thereof, know it perfectly well.

Perhaps most infuriating of all is a sign in one of my neighborhood banks. It appears above a countertop box holding circulars extolling the breath-taking advantages of “check safekeeping.” The signs reads: “YOU WON’T HAVE TO HANDLE YOUR CANCELED CHECKS ANYMORE.”

Only a heart of stone could respond to such touching solicitude. I wish, therefore, to report a medical anomaly: I have a heart of stone. I have also a message for every bank with which I have an account: If you ever stop returning my canceled checks I shall simply close my account and go to another bank. If in turn that other banks do the same thing I shall repeat the process and go to yet another bank--and so on--until I can find no bank anywhere to return my checks.

Until such time I suggest to those banks: Redirect your energies toward devising better ways to check the quality of your loans (remember Penn Square and Continental Illinois) rather than ways of cutting services to your customers and patronizing them in the process by pretending it’s for their own good. And may all your in-laws be bank examiners.


Los Angeles