When BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme was contacted by a listener who wanted to find out if post-dated cheques are honoured by banks, Julie Ball investigated.
A cheque is a bill of exchange payable on demand
Stephen wanted to pay for a training course and gave two cheques, one dated immediately and one post-dated, for payment later.
Unfortunately the recipient cashed both cheques at once and Stephen became overdrawn. He contacted his bank, the Halifax, to ask it why it had paid the money out, and he was told the bank did not honour post-dated cheques.
Stuart Cliffe of the National Association of Bank Customers said they do get a steady trickle of complaints for this popularly held misconception.
And he confirmed that post-dated cheques are not honoured because a cheque is a bill of exchange payable on demand.
Therefore if it is post-dated, it is not payable on demand, so is not technically a cheque.
According to William Hedley in Bills of Exchange and Bankers, "the document is an ordinary bill of exchange payable at a future time and therefore can be endorsed or negotiated in the usual way."
That includes it being refused.
Gemma Smith of the Association of Payment and Clearing Services (Apacs) told the programme that the clearing service technology is not date sensitive.
It checks only the signature, amount and security details printed along the bottom of the cheque.
Ms Smith advised that if this does happen to you, you should call your bank, explain the situation and hopefully they will deal with you sympathetically.
The programme also contacted a number of other banks including HSBC, HBOS, Barclays and Nationwide who all confirmed that they do not accept post-dated cheques.
Details of this are either in the front cover of your chequebook or in the terms and conditions of your account.
So if you are hoping to defer a payment, do not do it with a cheque.
You can use online banking, a standing order, or arrange a date of payment with your telephone bank service.
But do not put pen to paper in that cheque book unless you trust the person completely.
BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 6 March, 2004 at 1204 GMT.
The programme was repeated on Sunday, 7 March, 2004 at 2102 BST.