Let me start off by stating I understand the frustration when Mary signs a check and then is asked to sign another piece of paper. Why doesn't the store want to take my check? It isn't good enough for them any longer?
On the contrary, most stores presume that is will be just fine; sadly, enough people has floated checks that haven't made it to payday or just outright written bad checks that now many stores policy is to run the check through a computer and make sure the money is the account.
I do this with items that I sell on eBay, If you send me a check I will call your bank to make sure the funds are in there before I even consider depositing it. That is why I think checks have gone the way of the VHS tape. Their usefulness is gone beyond personal nostalgia and the minor usefulness.
The debit card has many more pros in my opinion
1. Debit cards are free from the bank > Checks cost
2. Debit cards are easy to carry around > Checks are bulky
3. Debit cards use less paper > Checks waste paper, recycled or not
4. Debit cards are fast > Checks take time to write
5. Debit cards require no personal info beyond your name > Checks have name, address, phone, license info and more
6. You either have the money or you don't > Bad budgeting can cause issues with multiple checks written.
The only time I use a check anymore is when I give money to a person who I can't give cash to. Otherwise everything is done via debit card from my account. The process is immediate and allows me to keep up to date on my bank balance within 2-3 versus a written check that can take up to 7 days or more for the company or person to cash. When it comes to money, immediacy is very comforting.
Due to this convenience, now stores are implementing this Tele-check/First Data option for use to keep their own fraud down and streamline the process. As someone who works in the cash office of a retail store I can honestly say I loved the day we implemented the ECA option for checks. I don't have to manually register the checks and the store has less of a chance of "losing" a check by the cashier giving it back or misplacing it. The fewer checks that go through fewer hands, the better.
Some banks have not set up a system with Telecheck and those checks then are deposited manually. And if you have had troubles writing a check, most stores with give you a receipt with contact information or you can go to the chexsystem and order a report on your check writing history. You can also call Telecheck at 1-800-697-3170 and they will give reasons for not taking some checks.
For myself, checks have been replaced by the debit card, just as vhs tapes are replaced by dvd discs. Although I don't use the same system to pay to play, I still use the same system to record, I still have my checkbook register to keep my finances in order.