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Don't get stuck with the bill: Use these 7 tips to avoid rubber checks.

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This story appears in the July 1997 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

When customers at Kay and John Pirolli's Summerfield Market in Petersburg, Michigan, wanted to pay for their grocery purchases by check, the Pirollis gladly obliged them. The Pirollis routinely accepted payroll checks and checks for more than the purchase amount. "We knew three-fourths of the people in town, so we weren't that strict," Kay says. As a result, the Pirollis got stuck with more than two dozen bad checks every year. "People would buy a soft drink and a candy bar, and write a check for $25 or $50," explains Kay. "They used us like a bank, and sometimes their checks weren't any good."

In 1994, after a decade in business, the Pirollis established a strict check-acceptance policy. They take checks only for the purchase amount, cash payroll checks only from customers they know, and never accept two-party checks. In addition, employees are required to sign their initials on checks they accept. "No one wants to have their initials on a check that might bounce," Kay explains, "so this way, our employees are careful about cashing large checks from people they don't know well."

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