If you are following me on Twitter, you may have seen this post:
This week my naive-ness about how to handle bills came back and bit me in the butt. This past summer was my first time in my own apartment – meaning I was in charge of paying bills; dealing with apartment complex, electricity, and internet companies; and keeping track of everything. Flash forward to Wednesday, I received a call that a summer bill was “never paid.”
I know these business people just wanted “their” money, but it’s hard not to think of them like these bozos pictured above – corrupt and looking to steal money from the little (wo)man. To prevent the craziness that I’m going through with this company, learn these five bill tips:
- Your bill? Your name; you pay – My roommate and I lived in the same apartment this summer, so we split the bills. I used my information to set up accounts with each company, she used her bank to pay the bills, and I paid her back. BIG MISTAKE. If she would have missed a payment, it would have reflected on my credit score.
If you want to split bills with a roommate, that’s great! But if you put your name on the bill, it is your responsibility to pay.
- Document EVERY.THING. – When you first set up an account with a company, my advice is go buy a notepad. Write down the date you set up the account, every time you make a payment, any time you receive new information regarding your account, and any employees you speak with. You don’t have to write down every time you log in, but keep an eye on the activity in your account. If you choose paperless updates with your account, pay attention to the updates. Keep all documentation for seven years, including bank statements, billing statements, paperwork for your account, information in package they send you, etc.
- Problem? Call them – If something looks fishy in your account (no matter how small), contact your service provider. Chances are it won’t be a short phone call. You may be put on hold for some time and transferred between different departments while they try to figure out what to do with you. If your call drops, call them back.
Get your story straight because you may have to tell it more than once. Be honest with your service provider. Stay calm and be kind, especially when you’re frustrated.
Side note: Julien Smith’s article What to do while you’re waiting on hold gives great advice about how to deal with waiving fees.
- Step up your game – If one person can’t help you, ask to speak to another representative or their supervisor. If it is a big deal how poorly they handle your calls, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. It is a drastic step that can prolong your problem, but don’t be afraid to speak to someone because chances are someone else is going through this too. Whatever you do, avoid the “Screw it – I’ll pay up” mentality – even if you feel like doing this:
- No response? Follow up – If someone in the company says they will get back to you in a certain time frame and he or she doesn’t, contact them with a follow-up email or phone call. It doesn’t hurt to give them a little reminder that you are paying them and can take your needs elsewhere. Just don’t spam them.
I hope you turn into this guy in any struggle you face. Celebrate your victories!
I was stuck on hold a lot during my ordeal, so enjoy these articles on what to do what you are on hold with a service provider. Funny: 20 Things To Do While You’re On Hold (Spark Notes); Serious: 8 Things to Do While You’re On Hold (The Nest).
Do you have bill advice? Help! I need it! Please leave stories of your struggles, comments on my post, or advice below.