Out of checks - can I use a shoe?

I just read Cecil’s column regarding writing checks on whatever you want. I have recently become indebted to my roommate because I have not had any checks with which to pay the bills. But because I have no checks, I can’t pay him either.
To get to the point, I was wondering if a bank, by law, must take a check that he accepts from me. For instance, if I were to write it on the bottom of a shoe, and he brings it to the bank, would the bank have to accept? Would it help if I included my account number and routing number (despite what it says in the column about not needing either)?


As a point of information most banks will allow you to take a blank “fill in the blanks” generic counter check to withdraw money from your account if you run out of checks so your inability to pay your roommate based on “lack of checks” shouould no longer be a problem, even temporarily.

Well, ifit’s a written and signed

1 Unconditional
2 Promise or order
3 To pay a fixed amount of money that
(a) is payable to order or to the bearer
(b) is payable on demand at a definite time and
© does not state any authorized undertaking or instruction by the person promising or ordering,

voila! you have a negotiable instrument. add your bank’s name as drawee and you have a “draft” (a check is a kind of draft).

But the “drawee” can refuse to accept or dishonor your shoe/check…any check, not just a shoe.

>> But because I have no checks, I can’t pay him either.

That sounds like a bad excuse to me. It is your responsibility to pay and your responsibility to find the way to do it. “The dog ate my checkbook” cannot take the place of your honoring your obligations. Go to the bank yourself and get the cash or find any other way to pay.

Regarding the specific OP, yes, the bank can refuse to pay any check on any grounds. They can just say they have doubts about the validity of the signature or anything else.

I have been printing my own checks for many years now and have only had a couple of instances where the payee had a problem. The last case was my renewal to a magazine and they sent my check back. I sent it to them again telling them they had accepted them in the past and I was not about to have checks printed just for them. They could accept it or just cancel my subscription. They accepted it.

How do you print your own checks? Is it with a computer program or did you just design your own and print them up?
What did your bank say when they saw the first check? Did you need to clear it with the bank first?
Is the layout like a regular pre-printed bank check?

Just curious

kitty, I see you are in Germany and My bank account is in the US so probably zero of what I can tell you is wroth anything to you but anyway. . .

There are (accounting or financial) programs out there which will allow you to print your own checks.

I started printing my own checks in the good old days of DOS with a nine pin dox matrix printer. I copied the layout of a preprinted check as close as I could (it took many hours but I dodn’t have a life then) but it was still very obvious the check was home printed. The special digits at the bottom, I designed the font myself.

When I upgraded to Windows and an inkjet printer I had to do all the work over again. In MS-Word97 I designed the check and I needed the special bank font. I found a sample on the Net and a program that allowed you to design your own fonts and so I built the font. (As you can see I still did not have a life).

So, I can print blank checks or print them already filled out which I like better. I also designed a background pattern which I print in very light blue and is a repetition of my name in tiny print. It makes the check look almost “real”.

Now, if I had some dollars in the bank my checks might be worth something.
When I

As sailor says, printing your own checks is not that useful due to lack of equity at the bank. But printing Bill Gates’ checks on the other hand…

Here’s a story about a guy who received some get-rich-quick junkmail that had a “sample” $95,093.35 check of how much he could make in a few weeks. He deposited the check and the bank took it! The story is pretty interesting and in it he covers what items must be present to make something a valid check.


But I thought that the printing of the account and transit numbers at the bottom had to be in some special magnetic ink.

Once upon a time, banks were in the business of carrying out their customers orders. They are now in the business of giving orders to their customers. Banks will accept or refuse whatever they want to accept or refuse. They have to keep their customers only happy enough to discourage them from switching banks. Once upon a time, banks charged ordinary users 10c per check and there were no other service charges. Once upon a time, when interest rates were much higher than current rates, they gave you toasters or other tchockes for just opening an account. Now they charge you monthly fees as well as fees ranging up to a few dollars just to withdraw your money. (Granted, there have to be 2 or 3 banks involved before the fees get that high, but the cost to each one is negligeable.) And switching banks is getting harder and harder because of the concentration in that industry. I used to have an account in a very pleasant banks called Seafirst (the Sea being Seattle) and now I have an account in a very unpleasant Bank of America. First they reduce services and then start charging an arm and a leg for the few services they still provide. Bill Gates is a minor league monopolist by comparison.

No longer. You can print checks from your computer on regular ink; banks can read the routing numbers even if they’re not magnetic.

Most banks will not accept a check that doesn’t have the routing numbers at the bottom, and probably won’t accept anything that can’t go through their check reading machines.

There are quite a few checkwriting programs available. I don’t use them simply because the cost of blank check forms is a lot higher than having them printed.

>> I don’t use them simply because the cost of blank check forms is a lot higher than having them printed.

I don’t understand why you need “blank check forms”. I use plain paper

As opposed to now, when my bank gives me free checking and no other service charges? As with any other product or service on the planet, you need to shop around. Some banks will give you better deals than others. Sometimes the same bank will even give you a better deal, just for the asking.

If you are printing your cheques in colour, as you say, then I am skeptical that even with plain paper they are costing you less than pre-printed cheques. Buying new (or even refilling old) ink cartridges ain’t cheap.

FWIW, I’ve never had to pay for cheques. Every bank I’ve ever used has given me a hundred free ones with each new account, and if I ever run out they send me another hundred with no fee. There were also no account or transaction fees, except for money orders, wire transfers, and using other banks’ ATMs. Maybe these sorts of banks aren’t available everywhere, or maybe people just aren’t doing enough research before choosing a bank. <shrug>

I once heard a story about two farmers. One wrote a check to the other for an amount owed on a cow. The other farmer took him to court saying he had not been paid. The court ruled he had been paid.

Since I am no expert I decided to hunt for a cow/check cite and found this.

You can draw money out of your checking account without using a check, so your excuse isn’t very substantial .

Psychonaut, please don’t hold out on us – what bank is it? The free market doesn’t work if we don’t have options and knowledge of those options.

When my bank, Crestar, was bought out by Suntrust, they instituted all kinds of minimum balance rules whose violation was punishable by monthly “account maintenance fees.” Bah. Finally, I found out they they did offer one kind of account – a “self-service” account – that didn’t carry such fees, but if I ever used the services of a teller or called them on the telephone, they would charge me $2.


The Wells Fargo account I have has no fees provided I have direct deposit of my paycheck into it. They charge for using other people’s ATMs though.

In Dictionary of Misinformation, Tom Burnam noted that a frustrated taxpayer in Oregon once sent a tax check to the IRS cast in plaster of Paris and weighing several pounds. The IRS couldn’t think of anything else to do, so they apparently just shrugged and cashed the check and had it returned to the taxpayer’s bank, which processed and cancelled it by hand.
I once wondered if you set a magnet on top of the magnetic numbers along the bottom of the check–would it keep the bank from recording it (and presumably deducting the amount the check was drawn for, from your account)?

As far as I’m concerned, the free market doesn’t work in any case, but if you must know, I’m currently using President’s Choice Financial. I switched from Canada Trust (where I also was paying no fees, though that was because I had a student account) after I heard that PC Financial’s no-fee savings account had a 4% interest rate. My two previous banks, at which I also paid no fees, were Royal Bank and Sherwood Credit Union. (Those were several years ago, though, so their fee policy may have since changed for all I know.)