First, account numbers. I used to have a calligraphic button that said, "Here at First National, you're not just a number -- you're two numbers, a dash, three more numbers, another dash, and then another number followed by several letters!" It's true. And it keeps getting worse. One of my bills has a 28 digit account number, which I have to write on every check. Twenty eight. Credit cards only have 16, why do these clowns need 28? My phone bills used to be simple, they were my 10-digit phone number. Then they were the phone number followed by a 4-digit number. Now, after the Verizon buyout, it's a 15 digit number followed by some letters, none of which are your phone number. WTF? All my bills ask you to "please write your account number on the check," and I understand why: if the sorting machine drops the check on the floor, they want to know who to charge.
Next, there seems to be a plethora of morons who send out perforated billing statements where the perforation is just mere millimeters shy of the fold, so that it rips on the fold, not the perforation. Then the statement is too big to fit in their pre-sized envelopes. Some statements the perforation is stronger than the actual paper. I don't know how they accomplish this, but I have ripped more statements this way.
Then there is the "Save a stamp - sign up online and pay there" accounts. I don't do this for two good reasons. One, I used to do this with Sprint and my previous cable company. Both had this problem where they didn't charge my account, and racked up late fees, and even cut off my service once. I said, "Dude, *YOU* are the idiots who forgot to charge me!!!" Sprint got so bad, I canceled automatic bill payments, and that still hasn't been sorted out. Sometimes they charge my card, sometimes they don't. It's insane! Next, most companies now won't let you use a credit card, they want access directly to your checking account. No. Way. One decimal slip on my $200 electric bill, and you've wiped my account. One of my friends went through this nightmare which just compounded problem after problem. The short story is, instead of $136, he got "deducted" $1360 by Pepco. It bounced, and they charged him a late fee, plus a bounced check fee. So did his bank. Meanwhile that froze the account, and other checks bounced. Hilarity ensued. The last reason is they will bill me whenever they like, and I can't plan around that. My previous cable company used to charge me from the first of the month until maybe the 17th, and then if it was past the 12th, they tacked on late fees. Want to know another stupid issue? Those companies that charge you for the "privilege" of paying online. My god, what gall.
I hate loans. I only have one now, for my house. I have had MANY loans over the years, partly because of this "loan rollover hell" my previous mortgage companies did. In less than two years, I had five different mortgage companies. This ended with our first refinance in 2001, and we've had the same one ever since. But add to that a student loan and two car loans, and I have seen many, many loan companies. Some bill you monthly, which I like. But then some do this "statement book" thing which I think is stupid. I have to remember to fill this thing out at the end of the month. I feel like I'm living in 1972, or some other era with food stamps. They want me to use automatic billing. Yeah. I bet they do.
The last complaint for the night is this weird phenomena where I don't get a bill for that month. It's always the same two bills, too: cable and power. Then the next month, they hit me with a late fee. I have to be on my toes and remember whether I paid the cable or power for that month, and write them my own statement, check, and mail it off. This started around the same time they wanted me to switch to online payment, so I am sure this is intentional.
I can't wait until I am rich enough to have someone do this for me. Of course, you have to make sure you hire the right people. Robert Haft, former owner of the Dart Group, had his card declined in our book store back in 1987. The irony was he owned the book store chain, and his secretary had made the purchase for him for Robert ("Bobby") to pick up at the store later that night. "Oh dear," said the secretary when we informed her the owner of the company's card was declined, "I must have forgotten to pay that one. Here try this one!" The second one worked, but my boss made a big deal to all the other managers about the first one being declined. No wonder the Haft Empire eventually crumbled.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000153.html