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Old 06-28-2021, 08:58 AM   #21
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Automate everything I can. The only downsides of potentially overdrawing or overpaying (which can easily be resolved, imo) are vastly lower probability than the risk that I might accidentally forget to manually pay something sometime, especially when travelling. And the time saved in not having to do that makes it a no brainer.
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Old 06-28-2021, 08:59 AM   #22
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I'm just venturing into this world. I recently started making payments (free) via phone for my electric bill and my credit card bill. It's an ACH transfer from my checking account, and I get to control when it happens and can verify the amount, of course. I would never want to allow a company to take whatever money it thought was right, from my account. They make an honest mistake, and it's your time and energy that is used to correct it, if it is possible to do so. Not worth the risk, imho. I still pay my Verizon phone bill with a paper check in an envelope, but they are getting weird about it for some reason, so I may change that also. Verizon has auto-deduct for free, I think, but charge something for all 'push' payments, with possible exception of third party bill payer website (I think). I do not want to pay a fee for the "privilege" of sending money to a company.
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Old 06-28-2021, 09:07 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by John Galt III View Post
I would never want to allow a company to take whatever money it thought was right, from my account.
Every bill that we have on autopay sends the statement first, usually 2-3 weeks before the payment date. I've got plenty of time to review the bill and contact them about any errors before they process the payment so the sort of mistake you're thinking of really can't happen unless you fail to check the bill.
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Old 06-28-2021, 09:40 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by disneysteve View Post
Every bill that we have on autopay sends the statement first, usually 2-3 weeks before the payment date. I've got plenty of time to review the bill and contact them about any errors before they process the payment so the sort of mistake you're thinking of really can't happen unless you fail to check the bill.
Same here.

I have everything I can on autopay including direct debits drawing from our bank account, but over here you can cancel a direct debit instruction easily, without even informing the company you have done so - they get the notification from the bank that the arrangement has been cancelled, but I always inform them ahead of time of the cancellation.
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Old 06-28-2021, 10:52 AM   #25
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So I have one horror story from Peco electric in Pennsylvania.

Set up automatic deduction for my electric bill, was supposed to be 70.00, they took out 700 and gave me hell when I said that I wanted my money back. Told me I would just have a credit and kept asking me why not simply let it ride (they said it a bit differently) on the bill until the credit was used up.

I do use online bill payer but no longer do the "automatic" payment option, takes me all of five minutes to log on and schedule payments.
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Old 06-28-2021, 10:53 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by disneysteve View Post
Every bill that we have on autopay sends the statement first, usually 2-3 weeks before the payment date. I've got plenty of time to review the bill and contact them about any errors before they process the payment so the sort of mistake you're thinking of really can't happen unless you fail to check the bill.
nope. see above. my experience was with a utility company. now I will admit it was a number of years ago.
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Old 06-28-2021, 11:40 AM   #27
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So I have one horror story from Peco electric in Pennsylvania.

Set up automatic deduction for my electric bill, was supposed to be 70.00, they took out 700 and gave me hell when I said that I wanted my money back.
So they sent a statement that said your bill would be $70 but then they actually drew out $700? Yeah, I guess there was nothing you could have done to prevent that as it was an error that happened after the statement was issued. It sucks that it happened but what's even worse is the hassle they gave you about fixing it.


Thankfully, I've never had an issue. The only one, which I mentioned earlier, was my own fault. I failed to review the e-bill from Comcast. There was an incorrect charge on there and I didn't catch it so it kept getting charged month after month. Totally my fault though.
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Old 06-28-2021, 11:40 AM   #28
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I automate many but not every monthly bill. Most are ACH from my bank account, something I began doing back in the early 1990s with my mortgage payment. One is a paper check mailed out because they add a charge for other methods such as CC.

Two monthly payments I don't automate - my health insurance and CC. With the HI, I have had some minor issues with switching companies so I don't want to have any automatic pipeline to my bank account. I simply sign into the HI's website and pay the bill with a few clicks. My CC is with the same bank as my bank account, so online bill-pay is very simple, with a few clicks. I often adjust the day I pay the highly variable bill, so I want to retain that control.

My non-monthly bills are not automated except for one - a small annual charge I pay with my back-up CC. I do this so I won't forget to keep my back-up card active. The other non-monthly bills I pay manually, many through CC, some through ACH, some with paper check (I now write maybe 8 checks a year).

All of my bills except for 2 I still get on paper to review and often make notes. Printing those common monthly bills is difficult due to color, paper size, and formatting. The ones I don't get on paper are the few short ones which rarely (or never) change from month to month within the year, so I will print out the January one for my records.
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Old 06-28-2021, 11:58 AM   #29
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I have had every bill possible paid by automatic deduction from my checking account, for over 20 years. Water, electric, natural gas, cable, cell phone, and everything else possible.

I always check the amount deducted, and there has never once been an error of even a penny. On the contrary, paying by automatic deduction has saved me several thousand dollars in stamps over the years, not to mention envelopes and possible late fees and credit dings.

The only problem I had was immediately after Katrina, when Cox Cable decided to be ever-so-charitable and suspend automatic deductions because we might need the money for something else. Plus, their offices were closed due to the widespread devastation. So, I had to wait until they re-opened several weeks later, and then drive down there and hand them a check. I know it doesn't sound that awful but at the time everyone's nerves were on end and cable was my only connection with the outside world. Nobody else suspended automatic deductions, thank goodness.
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Old 06-28-2021, 12:56 PM   #30
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Like many others have said, we've automated every payment possible beginning as soon as the provider has allowed. All our utilities, all our insurance, all our medical premiums, internet, cell phone plans, and streaming services are automated along with anything else we can. All our dividends/cap gains are direct deposit, and all our investment/bank transactions are done online as well. If there are "cons" we've yet to encounter them.

Most of ours are bank drafts (DW prefers over automatic deductions), some automatic deductions, and a couple are CC payments. We write checks so infrequently we both have to stop and think first, where are our checks? And then how to fill them out and where to send them?
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Old 06-28-2021, 01:53 PM   #31
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I have everything I can going automatically to a cash-back credit card. I get an alert for every charge, so I will know it happened and know more or less what each bill is supposed to be, and check either paper or electronic bill when I get it.

Until recently I was still manually schedule my credit card payment, but I decide it was just an annoyance and there is always a risk I might forget, despite the multiple reminders.

I finally decided to automate the credit card payment on all my credit cards. they send me a reminder about it a few days before and I keep an eye on my credit card charges throughout the months (for budgeting), so there should not be any surprises there.

I "age" about a month's worth of expenses in my checking account he credit card is paid from, so the bill would have to be twice as much as usual for me to overdraw the account, and since I keep an eye on it, and that the due date is weeks after the statement closes, I feel like I have enough warnings and checks that I can deal with any one-offs
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Old 06-28-2021, 02:09 PM   #32
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I've paid the following automatically through my checking account for 20 years now. No issues.

City water sewer garbage.
Electricity
Natural gas
Landline
Cable/Internet

1200 less stamps, 1200 less address labels, 1200 less checks & no involvement with the USPS
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Old 06-28-2021, 02:16 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by bclover View Post
So I have one horror story from Peco electric in Pennsylvania.

Set up automatic deduction for my electric bill, was supposed to be 70.00, they took out 700 and gave me hell when I said that I wanted my money back. Told me I would just have a credit and kept asking me why not simply let it ride (they said it a bit differently) on the bill until the credit was used up.

I do use online bill payer but no longer do the "automatic" payment option, takes me all of five minutes to log on and schedule payments.
thanks - this is the kind of thing that worries me... how often does something like this occur? And while 700 isn't going to change anyone's life... what if the decimal place was even further askew and PECO took 70,000?
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Old 06-28-2021, 02:19 PM   #34
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When we went full time RV travel nomads in 2005, we went completely electronic billPay. Even income taxes. It was so liberating not having to deal with bills in the mail anymore!!!

Only property taxes remained in the dark ages.
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Old 06-28-2021, 02:26 PM   #35
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I automate every payment that can be automated, including monthly Sustainer gifts to charities..
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Old 06-28-2021, 02:54 PM   #36
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Automate everything and Im several months ahead on bills. If we ever have an emergency or traveling, no worries at all. I figure out a level pay amount for bills that don't offer a plan. It works out great!

I pay as much as possible on a credit card to get travel points. I love Chase Sapphire for the flexible points. I havent payed for an airline ticket in 10 years
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Old 06-28-2021, 03:30 PM   #37
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We auto-pay all bills using the Fido 2% card. That card and two others (Amazon 5%, AMEX Blue) are auto-paid by bank debit. I don't do anything except monitor the flow and balances. I get notified of all CC charges real-time. But I still glance through the statements out of habit. We get no paper statements or bills in the mailbox. Not even insurance EOBs. Property tax is the only thing I pay with the bank's bill-pay functionality. We auto-pay health insurance premiums to our former employers using bank debit (no CC option). The one check I write every year is $5 to renew my alarm permit with the local police dept.
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Old 06-28-2021, 03:36 PM   #38
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I go back to "CheckFree" (anyone remember that?) in the mid-eighties.
Everything is on autopay except credt cards, which I pay electronically but want to know the amount and be able to time the payment.
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Old 06-28-2021, 08:19 PM   #39
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Quote:
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What are people’s thoughts on automatic payment of bills - like utilities, cell phone, cable, etc?

I like the convenience but maybe I’m missing a key downside? I do watch the bills each month before they’re paid to avoid surprises.

What do you do?
we've been doing auto payments for years with just one error and that was a failure of the vendor to send the monthly request to the bank. we get an e-mail 2-3 weeks ahead of the auto-payment. makes travel very EZ.
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Old 06-28-2021, 08:52 PM   #40
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Back in 2017, my 86-year-old dad (who lives alone, his-wife/my-mom passed away over 20 years ago) fell and required hip replacement surgery. He was suddenly and unexpectedly away from home for about 3 weeks, either in the hospital or in a rehab center.

I had to scramble to make sure his bills got paid. While I was at it, I set up autopay for most of his routine monthly bills such as electric, gas, and cable/internet/phone. This made his bill paying easier for the next several years, and it would be useful should be ever end up sidelined like that again.

Fast forward to last April, when he needed his other hip replaced. Unlike in 2017, this was planned, so he made sure to pay any of his other non-auto-pay bills in advance. Autopay would handle the rest, or so I thought.

While laid up, I was reviewing his mail and his bills, including the autopay ones, and found that one of them (his gas bill) had a large outstanding balance even though he was on a monthly budget plan which withdrew the same small amount from his bank account for 12 months until the gas company reconciled the difference around September. After I returned home, I found the online account I had set up in 2017 and saw that they had failed to take any money from his bank for about 9 months! He never noticed this in his bills because he never paid any further attention to them after I had setup the autopay.

I called the gas company to ask why they stopped taking money out and they told me they emailed him to let him know the autopay feature had an expiration date around September of 2020. Some time in 2018 he had stopped using the email address I used to set up his account, so he never checked it (he has a different one now). I still had the login info for it so I checked it out and found it among the hundreds of unread ones (mostly junk). It's not like he uses his email often anyway.

But I also saw in the online profile that I could use a different email address for login purposes from the one used to receive emails. So, I switched the latter to my email in case any emails like those appear again. I get confirmations of his monthly bills getting paid, which is fine.

I guess complacency can sometimes result from making things too easy.
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