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March 25, 2013


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Sorry FMF, you are a RETURNING customer and ALL the companies do this.( there are usually disclaimers on the order form that this is for first time customers only) Checks Unlimited is the one I dealt with and the same thing happened to me.

That is why I try to do all my money transfers via electronic transfer. Yes sometimes you need to write a check for high school events and alike but I have gotten down to maybe 2 to 3 checks a week and church donation is one of them.

Matt -

Even if I was (by your definition) do you think they handled the issue in the proper manner?

But I'm not going to give certain companies my bank account information for electronic payments -- I simply don't trust them.

You do realize your routing and account numbers are printed at the bottom of your check if they want them?

Anyways, I use Schwab for my checking account - they provide free checks so you don't have to deal with these shady check printing companies.

Chuck -

Yes, I realize that. What I meant was I don't like giving access to my accounts -- where companies can withdraw funds as they like (through electronic payments).

"You do realize your routing and account numbers are printed at the bottom of your check if they want them?"

The problem is not so much them having the numbers as giving them authorization to debit your checking account.

I doubt I write 2 or 3 checks a month. I use Quicken to keep my check book and my bank (PNC Bank)accepts uploads from Quicken. I write the "checks" in Quicken, upload the transactions and the bank either initiates an electronic transfer or prints and mails a check for me. If that was not available to me I would simply use the bank's web service to accomplish the same.

It all depends what language was on the order form. If they had a disclaimer about the promotional price only being available to new customers, and the non-promotional price listed, etc, then I would begrudgingly think they were okay (but yes, it would've been much better for them to have confirmed that with you, especially if you indicated you were a new customer and/or paying the new customer price).

The check option I've been using recently, especially as I have a few accounts that I need to get checks for, is Costco. 2 boxes (500) of plain checks for $11-$14 w/ free shipping.


Personally I did not fight them but I did voice my displeasure and told them that I would not be using them again. I am not sure how they stay in business.

As for what you did is a matter of principle to you and you do have valid points. Looking after the small amounts of money will reap you rewards.

"Where do you get your checks?"

The museum gift shop.

Just kidding! Poor customer service - you may be able to get them cheaper through your own bank via account perks. Markup is extremely high on checks so offering them as a free perk with X balance doesn't cost the bank much at all.

Brett --

Nice tip! Costco to the rescue!

Steve --

My credit union gave them to me for free, but I'm not sure Chase would (they didn't for my LLC account). Next time, I'll ask.

About a year and a half ago, I ordered checks from my bank's local branch. One box for $26. I guess I overpaid! I didn't even know you could buy checks from third-party companies. It will probably take me a decade to use up this box, but if checks are still a thing then, I'll try to do better.

I am surprised anyone pays for checks. I used to bank with Schwab, and checks were free. I then switched to a local bank and they wanted to charge me for checks, but after I mentioned this surprised me, they gave me my first box complimentary (these will last me years, as I write maybe 2 checks a year).

As to the new vs. returning customer situation, it is black and white. Either you've used them before, or you haven't. Since you admitted you had, and it didn't sound like they said "unless you haven't bought from us in 2.5 years", this was your error. To just send what you feel is fair payment was silly. You could have easily gone to another company, and been an actual new customer and gotten the deal.

Next time you need checks, check out Seriously. I ran out of checks and use them for the same reason you do. I only write maybe 10 a year. Walmart has very good prices for checks.

Use bill pay instead of checks

I order checks thru my bank, brand name Delux. I believe they are around $25 per box, same as someone else mentioned above. I like the super plain blue ones without the carbon copies or pictures of flowers etc. I only need one box every 2 years or so. Even though I suppose it is a ripoff, it isnt that much so I dont care. Still I can see why you are mad. I hate those companies who try to trick you and who wont say what things really cost....why is this even legal?!?

I use my paper checks for 1) paying tradespeople (plumber, electrician, etc) because they usually dont take a credit card, 2) paying for magazine subscriptions (to prevent automatic autorenew), 3) paying my hairdresser (she doesnt take plastic), 4) random fees for my kids school activies, 5) dmv, car registration, parking tickets, 6) purchasing certain investments that do not have an online option, 7) paying the babysitter, or 8) costco. Everything else is paid for either via credit card (to get points), or via free bill pay thru my bank.

We get our checks free from the credit union. We don't use many but sometimes it's nice to have a record of paying via check instead of cash for school fees and the like. Most of the time I use online bill pay or pay with a credit card or occasionally a debit card (which I have just recently started to use).

I undetstand your frustration with Designer Checks, they should have contacted you about the pricing issue instead of just proceeding but I imagine most customers do not fight back like you do.

I have never paid for checks. Ally Bank will send me more checks free of charge anytime. US Bank sent be a free refill when I asked them. I don't understand why people would pay so much for checks. Perhaps because it is easier to pay than to switch banks.

We get ours free through our credit union. I hardly ever use checks (maybe 5-10 a year,) but sometimes that is just what will work best.

Last time I purchased my checks through Costco. My price for 350 checks w/ duplicates was less than $12 delivered (20% discount for Executive members). You can get 500 non-duplicate checks for the same price. Is the price better than what you can get with a "new customer" deal? No. The annoyance factor, however, is non-existent.

I tried to check the pricing of Designer Checks as a returning customer (through the returning customer offer code) but all you see is a single pricing scheme before having to enter required information and I wasn't about to do that.

If the online service allows you to pay the stated amount at checkout then that is the mutual price agreement among the two parties. It takes a person or a 21st Century checkout system to interrupt the agreement BEFORE the authorization takes place! Either will suffice to preserve the company's intended policy. Sorry but my take is that price agreement trumps policy especially when the company fails to enforce its own policy. Isn't that what a judge would point out before laying out his or her final decision?

I'm surprised Designer Checks with their antiquated checkout system maintains an A+ BBB rating. I will rotate companies next time I buy checks and be on alert to potential bait and switch companies like Designer Checks.

I would have done the same thing. Stupid business practice to mail out the checks before checking on the price change. I rarely use checks and can usually get them for free from my bank because I only order them every 4 years or so. I agree with how you handled it.

I have banked at my Credit Union since 1960 and have never paid a dime for checks - they are FREE.

These days the only checks I write in a year are:
1) to the guy that cuts my hair
2) for my annual subscription to the Sierra Club
3) for my annual subscription to AARP.
4) for my property taxes

I don't understand. They stink because you weren't allowed to fudge the system a little? I would say it's a stupid business model on their end to just ship the checks, but still.

As a returning customer, you did not qualify for the new customer discount and the company should have informed you of such before processing the order. Two wrongs do not make a right.

That's quite a lot of effort. I think you did the right thing by sticking to your gun. They could just refund you if they don't want your business. I use online bill pay for the most part. We ordered a box of checks 5 years ago and are still working through them.

JeffM --

The "stink" part is that they tried to charge me more than I sent in without telling me in advance.


Yes, that is a terrible business practice.

I still have my checkbook and maybe write one check every few years- the last one was to the IRS in 2011 for when I owed a bit of money.



When I went in for a price under the returning customer offer code I was quoted $18.99 for a box of checks with the jesus cross design. Did you ever at any time see the $74.22? I did not see personally see charges that high (before having to input required information). Was your case classic bait and switch?

Wow that stinks but I am glad you were persistent. I probably would have just contested the charge on my credit card.and be done with it.

I am so glad I have USAA as my check writing bank as they send me as many checks as I need for free! You can even get a USAA bank account as a civilian these days I think if you are interested down the road.

Luis --

I got FOUR boxes of checks for $16.50. I thimk the $18.99 is the going rate for ONE box.

I think you did the right thing, you should not be able to just change the price on someone and send the order without confirmation.

I ran out of checks a few months ago and was concerned about how to get new ones. I asked my bank (Compass) and they told me they charge $15 or so but I remember they use to be free. I mentioned this in conversation with my mother at lunch and she said "no way, I'm going to call them right now." Long story short, in less than a 2 minute conversation she demanded I get checks for free and that we have been loyal customers for years. She asked for the representative that she knows very well, and when she got on the line, she said "no problem, I'll take care of it" and that was it. 2 days later, I received 200 checks in the mail.

It's funny to me because at 28, I am still very green when it comes to stuff like that, I was about to purchase the checks, but my mom knew she could get them for free and told me to never pay for checks. She has learned all these lessons over the years that I am now having to learn, and it's sometimes amazing to me the stuff she can pull off. I once saw her talk a guy down on a piece of furniture from $300 to $150 because of a missing knob at a furniture store, he even removed his commission! Picked up the missing one at Lowe's for $3 later. Makes me thing we overpay for most everything generally.

If you have school aged kids, you WILL need checks...
the last 7 checks I have written: State PTA, Local PTA, driver's ed, school for lunch account, scholastic (books), coach for basketball tourney entrance fees, and a 4H club.

I buy my checks from my local branch. nothing "designer" about them. Can't remember the cost but they aren't much!

I don't think you overreacted at all - poor business practice, if you ask me!

I'm surprised that you didn't order checks from one of the four sponsored links you have for checks. I also just noticed that you also have a sponsor for a product that my wife has been using for almost 3 years and that she is very pleased with the results.

Old Limey --

Ha! Those are Google ads and they serve links based on what the content on the site is. Since we're talking about checks, they are serving check ads! :)

FMF buddy, we love the site. But I think you're off-base no this one. What's the moral of the story? "I had to work pretty hard to scam a check company, and they tried to scam me back! The nerve of those people..."

Report 'em to the FTC--this is a deceptive trade practice.

If you have a PMA account at Wells Fargo you get free checks, works pretty well for me.

FMF, I'm glad you got the price you agreed to pay!

I've heard questionable things about the BBB. I'm not sure if I had heard them from the Consumer Union, or somewhere else credible, but the charge was that the BBB is basically a racket - companies can pay for better "ratings" or to get your complaint "eliminated."

I wish I had a source, but this is definitely something to keep in mind as we "research" companies that claim to have a perfect BBB rating.

We're Advantage Members with Bank of America, which means one of the perks is free checks. There are a few things that we still write checks for (1-2 a month), so it's not like we need them all the time either.

This is a case where it really helps to have a personal relationship with your bank (my bank is even a pretty big one, but there's one person there I do all my business there). They've helped me with all kinds of stuff like this with nothing more than a email request from me.

As far as this business practice goes, I guess I've just lowered my standards to where this wouldn't surprise me at all (all things relative, this doesn't even count as shady to me anymore). I would have done the same thing as you, would have expected the long drawn out call you got, and would have expected in the end for it all to work out if I put enough effort into it. But frankly this is why I try to do as little business with these types as possible.

They certainly shouldn't ship the product and jack up the price without consulting you. The cmpany shouldn't have done that. They should have asked you first if you wanted to pay full price and given you the option to cancel.

But you shouldn't expect to get "first time customer" prices multiple times. FMF says: "But since it had been 2 1/2 years since I had ordered checks, I thought I was safe. Surely by now I was a "new" customer" that just seems like rationalizing it." Waiting 2.5 years doesn't make you new. You should know that.

Jim -

Other companies have definitions based on length since you last purchased, so I thought these guys might as well. For instance, cable companies often define a new customer as someone who hasn't had their service in the past year. In other words, I wasn't making the concept up that
"new" sometimes means "in the past but not recently."

Costco and Sam's club have very reasonable check prices.

You *pay* for checks? Unreal. I get mine for free with my bank account.

I dunno. You knew about the returning customer policy. 2.5 years isn't a very long time. Some of us take that long just to get through a couple of boxes of checks (I prefer to use Billpay online and only use checks if there is no other alternative), so it isn't unreasonable that the company treated you as a "return" customer.

You should have just swallowed your pride, and accepted the fact that yes, you did in fact order checks from this company previously, and yes, you needed to pay the "return customer" price. Just my two cents.

This is how I would define a "difficult" customer. Not only he can not read, he also thinks policies (he accepted on the purchase) do not apply to him.

Marcin --

So you'd ship to him anyway and charge him the full amount?

They certainly should have contacted you before printing and mailing the checks, as it sounds like it was pretty clear that you expected the special price at the time of order. That said, I don't think it should be surprising that they wanted to bill you at their rate for returning customers, even though you have slipped through the cracks in the past as to this policy.

I've yet to go through the complementary box of checks from my CU.

FMF--Thanks for this post. I am in a similar situation as I look for new checks. I will know to steer clear of Designer Checks (and probably the other companies I see advertisements for in the Sunday paper).

Thanks to your readers for highlighting Sam's Club and Costco as reasonable alternatives.

Great post, but we all need to move on sometime,and checks are way in the past whichever way you look at it. The way I see it, if one can't afford to buy something there and then with hard cash, then wait until you can. That's what I do at least.

Just saw this post. Went out to Costco and ordered 150 duplicate checks. Total cost: $14.08 including tax, and 30 minutes time which includes faxing a voided check to them for verification. My financial institution wanted $34 for 150 non-duplicate checks. Woo Hoo! Thanks for the tip!!!

I use checks too. My kids laugh. Then I show them the checkbook register. And they laugh harder. Then I go to a bank and ask for a new register or ledger for my checkbook...and they stare at you. "You mean this...?" Young people have no concept of a checkbook and checks. I'd love to get rid of mine, but how do you keep track with money going in & out all the time? I haven't figured that out yet. But I do just buy the standard checks these days.

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