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June is Keeping Me On My Toes

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After everything that has been going on with our health insurance lately, guess what I got in the mail today? It was my next health insurance bill. That’s not very unusual for this time of the month. The $1,200 showing as due by the first of July was the unusual part. I think my heart skipped a beat.

My eyes scanned that bill as quickly as it could to figure out what the hey was going on. I am supposed to be billed $400/month (roughly). Ah, I found it. I was being charged for three months. Three months! Due by July! Are they wanting me to need the health insurance?

The initial shock wore off quickly and I went straight to the phone. It turns out that their system had a glitch and “randomly sent out three month invoices to some customers.” The customer service rep went on to assure me that the only amount that will be due is a one month payment.

That seals the deal. I will never, ever, give my health insurance company my banking information to automatically withdraw payments. I am also not paying them through my bank’s online bill pay since it didn’t work too well. I am going back to doing things the old fashioned way with writing my own check, paying for a stamp and sending it off in the mail.

As for continuing to use online bill pay for everything else? I’m still on the fence with that. We only send out a few checks a month and I’m thinking of going back to the old fashioned way for all of them. I liked the convenience of online bill pay, but I really miss knowing that my checks cleared the bank. The other option is to get a new bank with a better online bill pay system. I still have to think about it some more.

What an interesting June so far. I guess it’s keeping me on my toes! πŸ™‚


17 Comments

  • Reply Sherri |

    I’ve never used automatic billpay because I’m too controlling. I like to see it being paid. If I automated it, I would still sign in several times to check up on it, so I guess that defeats the purpose. πŸ˜‰ Granted, I don’t have that many different bills, so it’s not too cumbersome to pay them all individually each month. I’m actually too controlling to send it out in the mail either. (Wait for it to post to my account??? That could take a week! Or more! What if it gets lost in the mail!?!) I know, I know, I’m neurotic. I pay all my bills online through the individual vendors’ websites with my credit card (which earns me cash back). I am issued a confirmation number at the time of the transaction and sent an email confirming the payment right after. I like being able to see the payments show up on my card nearly immediately.

    Everyone likes doing something different! If what you used to day makes u feel more at ease, then stick with it. :o)

  • Reply Tamara |

    I like online bill pay. I use Bank of America, which has a fairly featurefull interface, and I have yet to have a problem. (knock on wood) Although sometimes I’ve thought about charging bills to my credit card.

    I never use automatic bill pay, though, I’m too paranoid for that.

  • Reply Matt |

    Normally I would say that paying online is a more guaranteed way of seeing the money go out and paying a bill. But since your bank seems to be having issues matching payments up with where they’re supposed to go I would be hesitant as well. If you are going to stick with any form of online banking the bigger the bank the more likely their system is sound (BoA or Citi would be safe bets but I guess it depends on where you live).

    Good Luck and here’s hoping July is a better month!

  • Reply Mark B. |

    Tricia,

    I use ING for my e-bill pay. It works great and gives you a nice little notation of when the check cleared, etc. I have yet to have a problem.

    However, I do pay my insurance bills with a regular check. I have found that BCBS and MetLife have trouble processing the automatic bill payments.

  • Reply Shareef |

    A similiar thing happened to me with Honda. A glitch in their system pulled out a double payment. They acknowledged the glitch but claimed that ‘the system wont’ let them give the money back’. It caused me to go over a bit. After that, I cut off the electronic payment and did payments over the phone.

  • Reply Brack |

    I, too, use Bank of America online bill pay, and LOVE it… has a ton of features, and is free… I highly recommend it if you are thinking of switching. (also the convenience of being practically everywhere)

  • Reply Cookie |

    I wouldn’t dismiss online bill payments yet. If you have a reliable banking system it’s fantastic and you’ll never want to look back. I’ve been using here in Canada for 5+ years and I have never had a problem. Once a payment is made the company has the money the next business day. Not sure how things work there. You do have the choice between setting them up for automated billing or if you like to pay things yourself just sit down at specified intervals and send the money yourself via online banking. It’s what your comfortable with- almost no one here accepts cheques- only void ones to set up automatic withdrawals. Granted we were the first country to get banking debit cards- 10+ or so years ago making cheques obsolete.

  • Reply muse |

    I also am a bit too hands-on to sign up for ANYthing w/ automatic bill pay. The three that I have no choice over, however, at Tivo, Netflix, and my gym membership. Those had to be done automatically.
    However, nothing else is automatic.
    Back when I had my first car payment (a few years ago), I tried the bank-write-my-check thing. I liked the convenience of it. Except that once I saw that the check hadn’t arrived, and though I worked things out w/ my car loan peeps, I was really frazzled. Turns out there is no guaranteed way for you to know WHEN the bank’s own paper check is written, let alone clears. AND their check #s (of course) are different than your own. It’s just so much easier on my soul to know that I’m writing the check.
    Ah well. Keep up your good work πŸ™‚

    Muse

  • Reply 99k |

    I would give it another try — of course, I can say that because my online bill pay is *fantastic* so easy to use and the user interface is so intuitive and awesome. It shows all pending payments and all paid payments.. I love it. I think it would depend on how many of my payees are electronic or not. I do worry about the ones I know the bank is actually printing up a check and mailing off on their own. All of our bills (power, gas, cable, etc.) are electronic payees except for our water bill, so I schedule that one a week ahead just in case. If I had a ton of non-electronic payees… I might have second thoughts too! Also — don’t forget to try to re-enter payees in case they’ve been added as electronic recently.

    Good luck!

  • Reply john |

    Yeah, the ONLY things I autopay is netflix because it is the same amound monthly. I never give out my bank accound to companies becaue they pull this junk all the time, then say ‘oops’ all the while they get to earn interest on your overpayment, what a deal for them

  • Reply Letha James |

    Have you ever thought about going a credit union. I work for a credit union in my area and I can honestly say that they are great. They don’t nickel and dime you to death with fees. I use the online bill pay with my credit union and love it. The type of error you had is really not the norm. It’s very uncommon. I have been using bill pay for 4 years and knock on wood have never had a problem. So don’t give up on it yet. But, regarding the health insurance…..until you get everything worked out I would also resource to other means to pay that bill until I had the confidence in my bank to get the payment out. Most payments sent out by typical bill payment systems are done electronic. They will send a check if it is a small company and the company is not set up on their end to except electronic payments. Anyway, I hope everything works out for you.

    Letha

  • Reply Sally |

    Sherri had a good suggestion – you go on the individual website and pull your payment from your bank – i.e. electronic payment. The other thing to do is set up an separate banking account (like ING) Get a checking account (no paper checks – also linked to your ING Savings) and get a line of credit (say $1000) Have auto payments from this and transfer the $$ as necessary and never worry about your primary or your secondary account overdrawing. Also you won’t be paying a monthly service charge (i.e.auto insurance) and saving $$ every year.

  • Reply louise |

    I pay my bills online, some are automated some manual but after a mistake that big I wouldn’t trust them again either. I can’t get over the cost of the health insurance, $400 a month! I pay $114 a month in australia for a basic cover for a family of four, I know our health systems are very different, I am curious what you are covered for for that amount?

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    You are right to stay away from automatic payments from a bank account. In Canada, you are basically giving that company permission to take as much or little from your account as they want each month. When there is a problem, you quickly discover how little control you have. I had the devil of a time stopping an insurance payment. I ended the contract, told the bank but the company kept accessing the money, just in different amounts. At my bank I couldn’t put a stop payment for a whole company, I had to put it only for a specific amount. And when that amount was turned down, the company just asked for a different amount and were granted it. Since that time, I have not added any more automatic bank payments.

    That said, I have still have three set up: two are charities and one is the electricity bill. The only way to do equal billing is by automatic bank withdrawal. And this year, our ‘equal’ payments have fluctuated by over $50 a month sometimes so it obviously isn’t working well. I can afford the huge bills in the winter (we are electrically heated) so will be removing that from our bank account.

    I use automatic payments to a credit card (cell phone and Zip – our Netflix equivalent) without any worries at all because you then have the protection of the credit card company and can dispute a payment.

  • Reply Prince of Thrift |

    Like others, I like to use online bill pay. Very few of my bills are automated, even in the online bill pay section. Yes, I could set it up that way, without the creditors finding out my personal banking info. I just like to see the payment is made, and I want to know that the payments are made on my paycheck schedule, not their billing schedule.

    Plus, my direct deposit will be ending come July 13th.

  • Reply Prince of Thrift |

    The only bill that is automated is my car payment, every 2 weeks when I get my check, half the months payment is removed. Of course, as I mentioned that will be ending soon, because I will be working for a family company, instead of a huge corporation.

So, what do you think ?