August 11, 2005

Small peeve of the day.

Why is there always that one company that sends out its bill so it arrives just after you've paid a stack of bills and before you accumulate another pile worth sitting down with so that you're always paying that one company's bill late? Either they need to pick a better day of the month for the bill to go out or they need to give longer lead time. (This has been bugging me for years!)

30 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I have given up and turned by bill paying over to online banking. Once I got it set up, as long as I keep some bucks in the bank--which isn't easy on my 9-months academic salary!--I don't even think about the due dates.

Elizabeth said...

that sounds like I have a cold-"my bill paying"; sorry.

Paul said...

Me Too! There's one that's been setting out there for a week because it came the day I sent out 5 others.
If they can't see when I plan to pay my accumulated bills, the heck with them, they'll wait. They should know.

Paul said...

Of course, I've been meaning to do what Elizabeth did for years now....I, ah, haven't found the, ah, time.

Matt said...

Online banking really makes that easy--takes maybe 3 minutes to pay the first time and 30 seconds after that. I get a bill, set it up for payment 2 business days beforehand, and toss it, all in the span of about 2 minutes. (And you can make it even easier by setting up certain fixed-cost bills--cable, phone, internet--to be autodeducted from the checking account.)

ploopusgirl said...

I love the way you think every company in the world should synchronize their bill-sending so as to make your bill-paying an easier process.

bill said...

ploopusgirl, you say that like it's a bad thing. Most of these companies sending us bills are either selling us something to make our lives easier or providing a service to make our lives.

If their customer interaction adds complication, then who needs them? Someone else can do the same thing for less hassle.

Gerry said...

Oftentimes, there is more than one billcycle. Not every customer gets billed on the same day. Sometimes, it is broken up at random. Sometimes, it is by region. Sometimes, it is by rate plan.

You may want to contact the company in question. Sometimes (albeit not often) you can get which billcycle you are on changed. How willing they will be to do it will depend on the company's policies, if they have multiple billcycles, if they are not doing it by rate plan, and how elegantly their billing system handles billcycle changes (not all do it well at all).

ploopusgirl said...

No, Bill, I never said that companies should not make every effort to make our interaction easier and more pleasant: they should. Expecting that every company you choose to do business with synchronize the time they send out their bills is asinine and selfish. Companies do make our lives easier by providing online bill-pay so that people can pay their bills whenever they damn well please. These companies also provide services that we use in every day life, most of which make life easier: phones, cars, and like shelter? Ann's whine is the same kind of whine I encounter on a daily basis in my place of business: people wanting to take absolutely no responsibility in the service that is provided for them. You're provided with a service and the opportunity to pay for this service whenever you like via online billpay, but you're still unhappy because we happen to send our bills out on the 21st, while your bank, mortgage company, and insurance companies send out their bills the week before? That's too damn bad. If you're so concerned about paying all the bills at once, hold off until the "odd" bill arrives and then begin writing out checks! Or.. use online bill pay.

And so completes my pet peeve of the day.

bill said...

that's a fine pet peeve. However, it is a bit of overkill. Having someone mention a minor annoyance - and it was labeled a “small pet peeve” - and then castigating that person as selfish and whining and refusing to take responsibility kind of misses the humor of sweating the small stuff of daily life.

You know what annoys me? When you twist open an Oreo and the creamy filling separates. Call me selfish, but if Nabisco can’t design a cookie so all the filling stays on one half leaving me with a plain chocolate cookie, then they can just burn in hell.

knoxgirl said...

Elizabeth and Matt are right--definitely look into online banking. It takes a little time up front to set it up, but it's SO much easier in the long run.

I don't use automatic bill pay because I am on a very tight budget--and I'm not organized enough--but my bank allows me to schedule and pay bills online.

bill said...

Gerry - great suggestion. That should have been my first thought as long time ago I worked for one of the big card administrators. Of course, trying to navigate phone menu hell to get to someone willing to do this opens its barrel of pet peeves.

Dale B said...

Most of my bills arrive via email and I never see a paper bill. For the few remaining paper bills, I stick the envelope in my briefcase the day it arrives. First thing in the morning at work, I pay any bills in my briefcase or in my email, either on the web or with snail mail if the web isn't available for that bill.

I don't use auto-pay because I prefer that I decide when and how much gets paid.

If I were to put the bills in a pile to pay all at once, the pile would get buried out of sight well before I remembered that I was supposed to do something about it.

Freeman Hunt said...

I pay my bills on the phone. Costs $0.50-$1.00 per transaction, but I don't care because it is fast and convenient. Takes about 10-30 seconds per bill. Other bills I have automatically drafted to my credit card (which is paid off in full every month) to earn rewards (bonds).

I gave up on paying bills through the mail because I always forgot until the due dates.

Sanna said...

Save time and e-pay them. All I do is schedule the payment online. My credit union offers the service free, and even snail mails the paper ones for me.

Freeman Hunt said...

A bit off topic but has to do with bill paying: Just last week our company received a check from a customer in one of those envelopes that the Post Office puts things in when they are damaged in transit. The customer's check and envelope the customer sent it in were burned! We are hoping that a post office didn't burn down somewhere.

AJ Lynch said...

Geez Ann:
With those two blog groups competing for you, I figured you didn't have any bills.... just a bunch of coupons to clip.

Coolout said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kim said...

A question for the on-line bill payers: can you set up these services so that the bank notifies you that a specific bill (e.g., a credit card bill) is due but holds payment until you have a chance to look it over? As the victim of credit-card theft, I've learned to scrutinize first, then pay. (The purpose of paying bills on line would, in this case, not be as much for convenience as for minimizing paper.)

Timothy K. Morris said...

Kim: depends on the bank. Shop around for the best deal. For one thing, if you have a cooperating employer, many banks offer free online bill paying (not to mention free checking and free ATM access) if you have your paycheck deposited electronically.

I set up all my reocurring bills (Utilities, mostly) on my bank's bill pay system. Not autopay. I pay the credit cards, which are mostly non-reocurring bills, via the issuer's online payment systems.

Sanna said...

Kim,
Mine is set up so none are paid automatically; I authorize each payment, because I like to look them over first. My bank just has the address and account info stored and uses it when I schedule the payment. Once it is set up it takes all of 10 seconds to pay a bill.

Kathy Herrmann said...

Hmmmm. Ya know, a lot of companies will let you choose your billing date if you ask them.

nina said...

Ann: it's your cell phone service provider, isn't it? I bet it is! (I share your pain in this.)

Ann Althouse said...

Nina: Yes!

Charles said...

Actually it's ingenius. By being off cycle, your bill lays around, there is a chance it is not paid or after the late date and you get to charge a couple of dollars as a late fee! Capitalism at its best.

Now if they had just devoted all that brainpower to their actual product...

chuck b. said...

Regarding online banking: I use it for (almost) everything, but it bothers me a little bit that I don't know when the bill really gets paid unless I follow up.

With checks, I knew the bill got paid when the cleck cleared. But w/ online banking, the money leaves my account immediately, and the bill gets paid...when? I have to either trust the bank mailed the check like they said they would or I have to follow up. I pay all my bills immediately when I receive them, so there's no question of missing the deadline, but I still fear that one day I'll find out a check never got sent.

Ultimately, I gues the banks want their customers to use online bill pay because it's cheaper for them than processing checks (right?) so it's in their interest to make it work well.

On another note, it surprised me a little to learn bank doesn't wire the money; they cut a check and mail it just like I would.

Alice H said...

I pay everything the first of the month - if a bill doesn't get to me by then, it gets paid next cycle. Somehow this still manages to work out where I never end up owing a late fee.

I had a on online bill-pay check disappear once - I contacted the bank, they took care of contacting the receiving company and somehow taking care of the late fees.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Yes, one of the big frauds of online bill pay services is that some banks make money on your float. That is, they take your money immediately, and then they mail a check to the biller. You would think that every bank would do an electronic transfer, but such is not the case as it would reduce profits.

dbp said...

Hi Prof Althouse,

Late fees are a big part of credit card company profits.

These companies have people whose job is to maximise penalties and fees. Certainly, choosing what day to send out a bill can have a big impact. The best time being when you are likely to pay late and incur a fee.

I have an MBA and I know how these people think.

Ann Althouse said...

DBP: Exactly. If I used Alice's 1st of the month approach, I'd be constantly paying the finance charge on my biggest credit card bill, even though I always pay it off in full. Actually, I arrange my bill paying sessions around the due dates for the credit cards, because it can easly cost me $40+ to get that in late! It's the pesky cellphone bill that comes in just after that that always gets me.