HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
April 2, 2007, Herald Journal

Paying for convenience

By KRISTEN MILLER

As if I don’t pay enough for bills the way it is, now I have to pay a “convenience fee,” to pay by phone or on the Internet. How convenient for me!

Yes, I’ll admit, I pay most of my bills online and I tend to not pay them until just days before they are due, but I shouldn’t be reprimanded for not mailing in a check.

It is convenient to pay online or by phone instead of mailing a payment in and using a stamp, a check, and dealing with the possibility of it being late. But come on, isn’t it convenient for the payment collectors as well? They don’t have to open envelopes, type the information into the computer, and it’s one less check to cash. They should be paying me a “convenience fee,” or at the least, not charging me.

Sometimes, paying online isn’t convenient at all. One credit card company doesn’t work with Internet Explorer anymore. WHAT? Why not?

So the site wasn’t functioning when I went to pay my bill. Nowhere did it say, “Sit Not Available.” I spent 15 minutes on the phone pushing numbers one, three and five before actually talking with an actual breathing person. Then, even they couldn’t help me out and I was transferred to the “online” department.

After giving all my account information again to this second person, they told me they were no longer available on that particular browser. What if I didn’t have another browser to choose from?

Oh, OK. Thanks for the convenience and saving me time by informing me of this change beforehand.

I’m sure they did inform me somehow, probably in fine print on my statement or on an additional piece of mail that resembled something of junk mail and was tossed away before it was even opened.

A little advice to anyone with a web site. If a company changes Internet browsers, indicate that on the site, or maybe have “Site Not Available,” instead of it looking like the site is still up and running, but I just arrived at a “scheduled maintenance period.” Because anything, otherwise, just isn’t convenient for me.

I am fortunate enough to live in the “thousands of dollars in debters” generation, so paying bills is my fort´e. Yup, that’s what I do in my free time. In fact, I love going to the mailbox and finding out what bill I get to pay next. I hope the satire was found in that statement.

That’s alright. That’s just a result of paying for a higher education, buying a new car, and having my own place to live.

Yes, and I also could’ve lived without those cute, black sandals, but they were too good of a deal to leave at the store.