Calendar Recipe Box Shopping List Address Book
      
 
 

The Problem with Automatic Bill Paying

The Problem with Automatic Bill Paying


Automatic payments are great – until you want to cancel the service.


By Gary Foreman

  Print: Full Page
Text Only
  Email: Article
   Find: More Articles


There is a flip side to the convenience offered by automatic bill payments: Sometimes it can be difficult to stop those same automatic payments. Despite how you might feel if you are caught in this trap, you are not doomed to pay forever once you have closed the credit account which you used to make automatic payments.

The Pros of Automatic Bill Paying
It's easy to see why automatic bill paying is popular. For the consumer it is extremely convenient. No need to write and mail checks each month. As long as you have enough money in the account there's no chance of triggering a late fee. The Electronic Payments Association estimates that consumers save billions by using direct payments.

The companies whose bills are being paid automatically love it, too. They spend less when they don't have to sort, post, and process checks. They're more likely to be paid on time. Also, the customer is more likely to continue paying for the service even if he doesn't use it (no check writing to remind him he's wasting money).

And the Cons….
Like all great systems, automated bill paying is terrific until it goes wrong. And sometimes it seems as if the selling company (credit card company) wants it to go wrong. The longer they can pretend not to know that the customer wants the service stopped, the longer they can charge for it. Some companies are notorious for making it difficult to cancel automatically billed products and services. In some cases, their phones always seem busy.

Credit card companies are not responsible for notifying companies that you want a service/billing stopped. In fact, you can pretty much expect that they will process any bills that are legally presented to them. And even if you have closed the credit card account or have stopped using the card, you will be responsible for the charges.

How to Stop Payments
The Fair Credit Billing Act provides some protection. You need to notify the billing companies in writing that you want the service/billing to be stopped. Be sure to include sufficient information in the letter: account number, how much is being charged, how often, and for what goods or services. State clearly that you want it stopped immediately.

Send the letter via certified mail and request a return receipt so that you have proof it was received. Address the letter appropriately. Check your statement from the billing company for a heading such as "in case of error" or "send inquiries to…." If a statement is not available (and it might not be if you have been paying automatically for awhile), search for the company’s web site and find a “contact us” page that will have its mailing address.

At the same time, send a second letter to the credit card company. It, too, should be sent certified mail with a return receipt requested. Say that you have contacted the billing company in writing and ordered them to stop billing your credit card. Include the company name, the amount being charged, and the product/service that has been cancelled. Keep copies of both letters and return receipts.

If All Else Fails
The letters should take care of the problem but if not, the next step is to contact your state’s attorney general’s office. You can find the listing at www.creditinfocenter.com/repair/stateag.shtml. Send the office a letter explaining what has been done and include copies of earlier letters to the billing and credit card companies.

The final recourse is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). For information on consumer issues call 1-877-FTC-HELP or go to www.ftc.gov, click on the “for consumers” button, and fill out the complaint form.

As to closing the credit card account in the first place, you should be able to do so anytime. This, too, should be done via return-receipt mail. And you need to recognize that even if you close the account, you still are responsible for any balance remaining on it.


Gary Foreman is a former purchasing manager who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website www.stretcher.com and newsletters




Enter your email address to receive delicious, family-friendly recipes, exciting promotions, helpful articles and more delivered right to your mailbox. What could be better?








6 Steps to Stress-Free ATM Use
We all have them. Problem is, too many of us abuse our ATM cards and lose money in the process. Help is here.
View Full Article

Finding a Financial Advisor
With tax time around the corner, now is the time to think about getting your finances in order.
View Full Article

The Benefits of Direct Deposit
Your paycheck shows up in your bank account with this system
View Full Article

Finances and the Family
By FamilyTime
View Full Article

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
We’ve come up with 10 easy ways to make life simpler
View Full Article





Now & Later Baked Ziti
Ziti, sautéed beef and onion, Prego® Fresh Mushroom Italian Sauce and cheeses are combined to bake and serve now or to freeze to bake later.



Piquant America's Cut Pork Chops
These flavorful pork chops are sure winners at a barbecue.



Double Noodle Casserole
Nothing beats sitting down to a hearty casserole, and this one fits the bill. Serve with your family`s favorite vegetable and you have a winner on your hands.



Simple Green Salad with Mustard Dressing
When you want a very simple salad, this one fits the bill. Use whatever greens look freshest and best in the market.



Swanson® Vegetarian Chili
With Swanson® Vegetable Broth, this quick-cooking stovetop chili, chock full of vegetables and two types of beans will fit the bill for meatless meals.


 
Tagged With: money, bills, late fees, cancel, banks
  








 
Simply fill out the required fields to begin enjoying the benefits of FamilyTime.com – it’s fast and it’s free.
* required



 
 
Concerned about privacy? Rest assured, we never sell or share your personal information.
See our Privacy Policy.
//