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Paying Up

Paying Up

I’ve noticed that companies that bill me, from auto to department stores, credit cards to insurance, often use non-first class letters (“pre-sorted,” etc..) which slows down delivery in a postal service already slowing down even it’s fastest delivery. The due dates are often with ten days of my receipt, which means  you have to pay the bills immediately and get them back into the molasses mail system. If you’re on vacation, or a business trip, or ill, forget about it. (AT&T duns me before its bills are due, reminding me that “it’s only three days until we should receive your payment.”)

Then you’re offered the “opportunity” to have funds withdrawn automatically every month from your bank account. This, of course, reduces the expense of billing conventionally and using the mail system, and ensure a certain “float” when the funds are collected even earlier. It also means that it’s easier to be overdrawn if you’re not careful.

I realize a lot of people prefer strictly electronic funds transfer, and I do it on some of my accounts where it makes sense for me. But I object to the “game” being played that’s as obvious as a ham sandwich. (It reminds me of Poland Spring when they reduced their water bottles from five gallons to four but told me it wasn’t a price increase, only “easier handling.” Do they put something in their water that’s supposed to make people into idiots?)

And one more thing: I have two accounts with the same organization in many cases: mortgage, auto, local taxes, gas, electric, water. They all have requested that I make out two checks, not combine them, and mail them in separate envelopes because “their staff isn’t prepared to handle combined payments” even when I indicate two different account numbers. At one point, one car was paid up three months ahead while the other was three months in arrears!

So now I’m paying people and also doing their failure work. As our educational system declines, so will the difficulties for consumers increase.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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