- The Washington Times - Monday, April 8, 2002

For several years, I've written and sent checks to people without ordering the checks from a bank or check-printing firm. Instead, I've done it using my PC, a printer and some remarkable software that has recently been released in a new version.
VersaCheck 2002 Premium Plus, which retails for $80 in stores and online from www.versacheck.com, offers total freedom in check creation, while aligning the finished product with bank standards. (Your bank won't necessarily tell you this, but there's no requirement that you have to buy checks from them in order to use their services.)
Starting with a choice of size the large business format or the personal wallet style VersaCheck 2002 offers a wide range of templates for checks that are filled in by hand as well as those you fill in and print from the screen. This latter, of course, is a feature found in programs such as Intuit's Quicken, QuickBooks and Microsoft's Money software, but those publishers want to sell you their printed checks, again at a substantial price and, one imagines, a nice profit for the software firm.
The difference with VersaCheck 2002 and this is key is that the program does the printing, the filling-in if you want, and prints checks on paper that comes in the package (enough for 150 checks) and can be bought at just about every major office-supply store. Want to change the way your checks look? Has your telephone area code or postal ZIP code been revised? Switch banks lately? Any or all of these can be altered quickly and easily with the VersaCheck software, and this means there is virtually no waste of checks.
How artistic you want to be with a check depends on your interest and ability. You can add logos for yourself and your bank, as well as background pictures (the new program features a very nice American flag picture). You can print checks with your signature (scanned in), or you can sign them manually if desired. The finished product incorporates "microprinting" as a security feature, and when using paper from G7 Productivity Systems, the program's publisher, other security features are incorporated into the blank paper, making for a finished product that's almost indistinguishable from the bank-sold product, except the cost is 50 percent to 80 percent less.
If you want VersaCheck 2002 to do the filling-in for you (something those with less-than-perfect handwriting might appreciate), you need to create an electronic "checkbook," which is an on-screen register in which you record payments and deposits. This data can be easily exported to those other financial programs Quicken, Money and QuickBooks so that you or your accountant can work with the data as needed.
In this new version, setting up a checking account and designing a check are both easier than in previous editions. The interface is much more graphical, meaning the program walks you through the necessary steps in order to create the account, enter the special coding for the routing and account information printed on the bottom of the check and select the various fonts you want for your name and address, as well as that of the bank.
You can use either an inkjet or laser printer to produce your checks, and they will be acceptable to your bank. At one point, checks had to be printed with magnetic-sensitive ink for the bank's check readers; today, most banks use optical scanners that can read checks with any sort of printing, magnetic, inkjet or laser.
It's a very impressive program overall, and gives consumers and small businesses the same power that larger corporations have, and then some. For example, the VersaCheck 2002 Premium Plus software lets you send and receive "electronic" checks via the Internet or e-mail. Your recipient can print out the check and deposit the money in his account easily; in the reverse, you could send an invoice via e-mail and get payment almost instantly.
Given the hassles of using the U.S. Postal Service (far greater in Washington, D.C., and environs since September 11) and the pending first-class postage rate increase to 37 cents in July, sending and receiving payments via e-mail makes a lot of sense. This software, and a feature called Qchex.com, make it possible. (If you have what's known as a "merchant account" to accept credit cards, VersaCheck 2002 Premium Plus has a built-in "terminal" that lets you process, and record, those payments.)
This is a program you'll want to get. It's an investment that I believe will pay off well for years to come, especially when you don't have to wait for checks to come in the mail, or for the cost the bank slaps you with.

Write to: Mark Kellner c/o The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002. Send e-mail to [email protected], or visit the writer's Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk back to Mr. Kellner live every Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. EST. on www.adrenalineradio.com.


LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide